Coffee: the language spoken worldwide

What’s more important: to drink your daily cup of coffee or to make love?

For monolingual globetrotters, it may be a question of which is easier to pronounce.

‘Love’ in languages on each continent

amor               Spanish           America

Liebe               German           Europe

upendo           Swahili            Africa

ask                  Turkish             Middle East

pag-ibig           Filipino           Asia

You may have to set aside your carnal desires (or hire an interpreter, or gesticulate wildly, or crack open a phrase book, c’mon….or travel with your loved one), but at least you should be able to get your caffeine fix when the travel bug bites.

‘Coffee’ in languages on each continent

café                 Spanish           America

Kaffee             German           Europe

kahawa           Swahili            Africa

kahve              Turkish            Middle East

kape                Filipino            Asia

The word for coffee starts with the same sound made by 3 letters: K, Q, and C

kaffe menu
Copenhagen cafe. Photo by Martin Kaufmann


kaffe               Swedish

kahvi               Finnish

koffie              Dutch

kawa               Polish

ka-feh             Hebrew

kava                Ukrainian

kaféo               Greek

kophe             Russian

kope               Hawaiian

kia-fey           Chinese

koohii             Japanese


qahwah           Arabic

C (hard)

café                 Portuguese

caffè                Italian

ca phe             Vietnamese

coffee              English

Sea-faring merchants in the 1400s-1600s managed to bungle their way through their lovers’ names in every port and improperly pronounce or spell the source name for “coffee”.

Traders exchanged bags of coffee along with the name for their commodity, swapping Ks for Qs for Cs at the start of the word and Vs for Ws for Hs for Fs for Phs in the middle.

Pretty much except in the motherland of Ethiopia, where it’s still called Bunna. Home is where the heart is, and to thee we stay true.