Disclaimer: this question is not about brewing.

I am from India. Every time I go to a coffee shop and order an espresso or Americano, knowing fully well what they are, I get a prompt ‘there’s no milk or sugar in it’ from the barista. What’s the story behind this? Have Indians ordered the said coffees because they cheapest one on the menu and then complained / threw away? I have observed this on the two opposite ends of the country and across brands including airport and railway station coffees!

  • Welcome! If you take the tour and browse our help center as well as a few of the existing questions, you'll quickly notice that we accept many aspects of coffee - including customs. You made an interesting observation here!
    – Stephie
    Dec 17, 2017 at 8:22

1 Answer 1


I am South Indian and a coffee fanatic; and each time I order an espresso, the coffee shop staff member will be sure to say,

there is no milk in it.

They don't say 'no sugar' in my town because it's probably assumed that we will add sugar separately anyway.

This happened again recently in a new coffee shop in the neighborhood, so I asked the employee why they always say like this -- and he had some free time and was kind enough to explain why:

Not every client knows what is an espresso or Americano. They may order it as a fresh experiment. Now, the famous South Indian Filter Coffee and even a generic cup of coffee that you order in your typical Indian tea/coffee shop or download from the coffee machine in a hospital or railway station always has milk and sugar in it. So customers might expect it here and get a bad surprise for a high price: it has actually happened in the early days of our old shop and we were scolded for not warning them it is a black coffee! It's to avoid such confusion we routinely tell clients that the espresso/ Americano contains no milk, and that sugar will be served separately.

Note: I have seen this more often in smaller cafés. For example, in outlets of a major coffee company like Café Coffee Day, employees in this city will not usually tell a customer that their espresso/ Americano doesn't have milk or sugar (unless you specifically ask for a description), because it's generally assumed that if you order an espresso or an Americano in a specialist place like Café Coffee Day, you definitely know what you are asking for!

  • Welcome to the site - we love to have another self-proclaimed coffee fanatic around! Please take a moment for the tour and browse our help center to learn more about the site - and you'll even get a badge for it ;-)
    – Stephie
    Dec 17, 2017 at 8:56
  • Thank you. It's so great that coffee has its own Stack Exchange community @Stephie! Dec 17, 2017 at 9:00

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