The Israeli version of a cappuccino (or latte) is called הָפוּךְ hafuch. This is the word used in the tagline of this website, since we use the idea of a coffee house as the basis for our online learning environment. הָפוּךְ literally means “turned over” or “upside down,” perhaps due to the way that it was originally made in Israel, by adding the espresso on top of the milk in an upside down fashion (though the meaning of הָפוּךְ in this context is debated). Either way, this is the most popular way to serve coffee in Israel.

I know that not everyone drinks coffee, and it took me a while to get used to it. It is, after all, an acquired taste. Either way, as we await the end of the Coronavirus, or at least an improvement in our ability to deal with it, many of us have a lot of time on our hands. It’s my hope that you will take what time you have to sit down with a nice cup o’ Joe and pick up some Hebrew in your spare time!

Let’s consider some words and phrases that are relevant to coffee houses in Hebrew and things you might order or eat there.

The place itself is called a בֵּית קָפֶה, literally a “house of coffee.” When you sit down, a מֶלְצָר “waiter” or מֶלְצָרִית “waitress” (or, better yet, a מְאָרֵחַ “host” or מְאָרַ֫חַת “hostess,” who has probably just seated you) will bring you a תַּפְרִיט “menu.” While you are רַק מִסְתַּכֵּל or רַק מִסְתַּכֶּ֫לֶת “just looking,” they might offer to bring you a כּוֹס מַ֫יִם “cup of water” (but that is unlikely in Israel).

Once you’ve decided what you want to eat, you קוֹרֵא(ת) לַמֶּלְצָר “call the waiter” and say, “הֶחְלַ֫טְנוּ ‘we have decided’” and “אֲנַ֫חְנוּ רוֹצִים לְהַזְמִין, בְּבַקָּשָׁה ‘we would like to order, please.’” You and your friend then order your קָפֶה הָפוּךְ “upside-down coffee,” making sure to mention that you want it פַּעֲמַ֫יִם “twice” so that your friend doesn’t get left out! Oh, and you want yours בְּלִי סוּכָּר “without sugar,” while she will have hers עִם “with.”

Enjoy your coffee, and don’t forget to maintain social distancing even when you get back to that coffee house!

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