Café Behavior

Escola Caravela » Portuguese language » Café Behavior

Coming to Portugal as tourists, we may not have much need to deal with many domestic issues. We usually limit ourselves to a few tasks. For example, we want to learn from the locals about the city we visit, use local transport and, of course, visit cafes and restaurants. It is about the behavior in a cafe in Portuguese that we will talk today.


To begin with, let’s replenish the vocabulary on a given topic. Among the drinks you can find uma bica (espresso), um café (coffee), um chá (tea), uma água (water), leite (milk), um sumo (juice). If you add details, then, for example, “água” can be fresca (chilled) or natural (not chilled), “sumo” – com gelo (with ice), “café” – com leite (with milk) or com açúcar (with sugar).

As for food, for breakfast you can order um pastel de nata (national cake), uma tosta (toast), um croissant (croissant), uma sandes (sandwich). Of course, the menu is much more diverse, but we will focus on these meager options so as not to overload the article with information.

Condicional Presente

In this topic, we need a special grammar – Condicional Presente, to give politeness to speech. To keep it simple, we simply add the ending “-ia” to any verb. However, you may also hear or use the Pretérito Imperfeito form of the verb when we change verb endings in the following way.

Verbs ending in “-ar”
ele, ela, você-ava
eles, elas, vocês-avam
Verbs ending in “-er” and “-ir”
ele, ela, você-ia
eles, elas, vocês-iam


Queria uma bica e um croissant. (I’d like an espresso.)
Podia dar-me a ementa? (Could you give me a menu?)
Gostava de comer um pastel de nata. (I would like pastel de nata.)

This rule allows us to avoid using the indicative mood Imperativo, which is formed according to a much more complicated pattern than Condicional. That is, instead of saying “give me a bill”, we rephrase this expression and use Condicional: “Could you give me a bill?”


To describe the quantity, we do not have to use numerals (one, two …). It is enough to know the general concepts – muito (a lot) and pouco (little). In this case, the ending of these words changes depending on the noun they refer to. For example:

Não como muitos doces, porque tenho alergia. (I don’t eat a lot of sweets because I’m allergic.)
Depois de tomar um café, bebo muita água. (After taking coffee, I drink a lot of water.)

Adoro pastéis de nata, mas como poucos.(I love pasteis de nata, but I don’t eat much of them.)
Não posso pagar a conta, porque tenho pouco dinheiro.(Can’t pay the bill because I don’t have much money.)


Often waiters may ask how good everything is: “Tudo bem?” If there are no complaints and comments about the service and the order, then you can limit it to the following phrase: “Sim, tudo bem.” (Yes, all is well.)But there are times when expressing your dissatisfaction or opinion is important to help correct defects. To do this, learn a few new adjectives:

doce (sweet), salgado (salty), amargo (bitter), picante (pungent), cru (raw), seco (dry)

So, using the word “porque(because), we can explain our dissatisfaction:

Não gosto de pastel de nata, porque são muito doces. (I don’t like pastel de nata because it’s too sweet.)

Não consigo comer este croissant, porque é amargo. (I can’t eat this croissant because it’s bitter.)

O prato é terrível, porque a carne está crua! (The meat is raw!)

You can also ask for “livro de reclamações(book of complaints) if you don’t like the cafe so much that it’s not enough to tell the waiter. Every company in Portugal should have such a book.

Meal time

We can visit cafes at any time of the day, but to describe what we like to eat for a particular meal, we need to know the following nouns:

o pequeno-almoço (breakfast), o almoço (lunch), o jantar (dinner)

The preposition “a”, which merges with definite and indefinite articles, will help us to show the regularity of actions. Namely:

Tomo café ao pequeno almoço e ao almoço todos os dias.(I drink coffee for breakfast and lunch every day.)

Ao jantar como sandes porque é leve.(I eat a sandwich for dinner because it’s light.)
Account and payment

Here we learn that the bill in Portuguese is “a conta” and it can be “junta(common) or “separada(separate) if you come to a cafe with a friend or in company. To ask how much a dish costs in total, just say: Quanto é? (How many?)

You can get the following answer: “São … euros e … cêntimos“. (… euros and … cents.)

If you offer a large bill, the waiter may ask, “Não tem mais pequeno?” (Don’t you have any less?) If you don’t have any payment without change, the waiter will hand you your change and say, “O seu troco.” (Your change.)

Of the payment options, you can be offered: em dinheiro (in cash), com cartão (with card), por transferência bancária (via bank transfer).


These words, expressions and grammar rules will be useful to you not only in a cafe or restaurant, but also in a store and even on an airplane. You can politely ask for help and win over a person in any situation. A conversation about payment and change is useful in any institution.

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