Ordering and Customising Like a Local at Starbucks Japan | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan
Starbucks Japan Woman drinking

Ordering and Customising Like a Local at Starbucks Japan

By Luisa Seftel Oct 26, 2022

Are you planning your next trip to Japan? As the borders are finally open, many tourists hope to visit the rising sun’s land as soon as possible. As we all love eating good food and relaxing with a delicious beverage while we travel, small branches and big chains, like Starbucks, may come to mind. Starbucks Japan is famous for its unique seasonal drinks and expanding vegan and vegetarian menu. So let’s learn the most commonly used Japanese phrases to order and customise your favourite beverage. 

How to Order Your Favourite Drink at Starbucks Japan

Starbucks Japan How To Order

Photo credit: Canva

Starbucks is a worldwide famous chain where the barista asks you for your name as you order. Interestingly enough, at Starbucks Japan, they don’t. So be sure to remember your order or ask one of the friendly staff members.

When you enter, they do not greet you with a typical “いらっしゃいませ” (irashaimase) like at the conbini; instead, they say the following to make it more personal and friendly:

こんにちは/こんばんは!お待またせいたしました!” (Konnichiwa/Konbanwa! Omataseshimashita – Hello/Good evening! Thank you for waiting)

Depending on the daytime, reply to them with “Konnichiwa” (hello) or “Konbanwa” (good evening) and then start your order. Let’s say you would like a grande sized White Café Mocha with ice; then your sentence would look like this:

グランデサイズのホワイトカフェモカをアイスでお願ねがいします.” (Grande-saizuno-whitokafemokawo, aisude-onegaishimasu.)

So when you order at Starbucks, you ask for your drink in the following order: Size, beverage name, hot/ice.

The staff will then ask you if you would like your drink to go お持ち帰り(=omochi-kaeri) or for here 店内 (=tennai). If they ask you, just use “お持ち帰り/店内で” which sounds natural; it’s okay to drop the “お願ねがいします” (onegaishimasu) at the end. 

How to Customise your Drink

Starbucks Japan Cup

Photo credit: Canva

At Starbucks, the dream of customising your drink comes true, as there are so many syrup flavours and milk types to choose from. Even changing the amount of foamed milk is free! So why not get a bit adventurous and change your drink at Starbucks in Japanese like a professional? Especially when you have allergies or dietary restrictions, knowing how to change your drink of choice in a foreign language is quite helpful.

So let’s keep working with the White Café Mocha example from before. When signalising to the staff you want to change something, use this concise and helpful word あとは…(ato wa…=also/and then). So after you say the magic word “ato wa”, you can change the amount of syrup or milk, for example. Adding more of something, you use the word 多おおめ(ome), so フォームドミルク、ホイップクリーム、シロップ、ソースを多めで “(fomdo-milku/howipukurimu/shirupu/sosu wo oome de =please add more foamed milk, whipped cream, syrup, sauce) or 少すくなめ(sukuname) for less.

Milk-wise, Starbucks has a lot to offer, so changing is very easy. First, let’s go through the most used milk alternatives that Starbucks Japan has to offer:

  • Soy milk, ソイミルク (soi miruku)
  • Almond milk, アーモンドミルク (amondo miruku)
  • Oat milk, オートミルク (oat miruku)
  • Low-fat milk, ていしぼうにゅう (teishibounyuu)
  • Fat-free milk, むしぼうにゅう (mushibounyuu)

So depending on what kind of milk you would like to customise, you can say following: ミルクはソイミルクに変かえてください”!(Miruku wa soi miruku ni kaetekudasai! = Please change the milk to soymilk) or another option is “ソイミルク変更でお願いします” (Soi miruku henkou de onegaishimasu = change to soy milk please). 

After customising your drink, the staff member will hand you the receipt, and a special milk card or an extra receipt (if you changed the milk from regular cow’s milk to soy, for example) . Keep that and walk to the counter, where you can pick up your beverage and hand the additional card/milk receipt to the barista. Enjoy your drink!

Starbucks in Japan – A Recap 

Starbucks Japan has a lot to offer, like its seasonal frappuccinos, sakura-flavoured drinks and time-limited sweets. Did you know that the first Starbucks store opened in Japan in 1996? It was the first non-smoking café in the whole country, so was especially popular among the younger generation. We hope that this Starbucks guide will accompany you on future visits.

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