Is coffee countable or uncountable? When do we say “a coffee” “coffee” or “some coffee”?

Coffee can be countable and uncountable. It depends on the context. Most of the time these are interchangeable in common usage. “Would you like some coffee?” (Referring to the substance, uncountable). “Would you like a coffee?” Is really short for “would you like a cup of coffee” and refers to the cup, (countable).

aroma aromatic coffee

But if you’re visiting someone in their home, asking for “a coffee” might sound a little rude, as if you were treating your host as a waiter. In a friendly setting (as opposed to a commercial one), I’d recommend asking for “a glass of water”, “a glass of orange juice” or “some orange juice”, “a cup of coffee”, or “a cup of tea”. For brand-name drinks or mixed drinks with standard names, it can be said: “a Coke”, “a Pepsi”, “a Fanta”, “a martini”, “a Boilermaker”, etc.

  • Do you want to grab a (cup of) coffee? Do you want to grab a cup or a cuppa? *The verb “to grab” is another way of saying “to have/get” something. Shall we grab lunch? Let’s just grab a quick bite. 
  • Do you want to get a (cup of) coffee? Do you want to get a cup or a cuppa?
  • Do you want to have a (cup of) coffee?
  • Would you like to grab a (cup of) coffee?
  • Are you up for a (cup of) coffee this weekend?
  • Let’s have (some) coffee sometime!
  • Let’s grab (some) coffee sometime!
Would you like some coffee? uncountable because it’s referring to the substance
He ordered a coffee. countable, because it’s referring to a cup of coffee

Using countable and uncountable nouns

When using countable or uncountable nouns, pay attention to articles and adjectives! Some articles and adjectives can be used with both countable and uncountable nouns. However, others can be used with only countable or only uncountable nouns.

Used with Countable Nouns Only
a a doctor, a pen, a meal, a class, a college
many many cups, many books, many libraries, many flights
few few questions, few tables, few apples, few holidays, few countries
a few a few questions, a few problems, a few issues, a few issues
Used with Uncountable Nouns Only
much much money, much time, much food, much water, much energy
little little trouble, little equipment, little meat, little patience
a little bit of a little bit of confidence, a little bit of sleep, a little bit of snow
Used with Countable & Uncountable Nouns
the countable the monkeys, the schools, the teachers, the boats, the bananas
uncountable the cheese, the machinery, the luggage, the grass, the knowledge
some countable some tables, some stores, some grapes, some cities, some nurses
uncountable some time, some news, some bread, some salt, some mail
any countable any forks, any socks, any bathrooms, any waiters, any beliefs
uncountable any advice, any soap, any transportation, any gold, any homework
no countable no magazines, no chocolates, no pilots, no rings, no markers
uncountable no trouble, no grass, no scenery, no money, no furniture
a lot of countable a lot of animals, a lot of coins, a lot of immigrants, a lot of babies
uncountable a lot of help, a lot of aggravation, a lot of happiness, a lot of fun
lots of countable lots of computers, lots of buses, lots of parties, lots of colleges
uncountable lots of cake, lots of ice cream, lots of energy, lots of laughter
enough countable enough plates, enough onions, enough restaurants, enough worries
uncountable enough courage, enough wisdom, enough spaghetti, enough time
plenty of countable plenty of houses, plenty of concerts, plenty of guitars, plenty of
uncountable plenty of oil, plenty of sugar, plenty of cheese, plenty of space
word   with a countable noun?   with an uncountable noun?   examples 
few, fewer fewer students; few cars
little, less, least less food; little time
many, several several books; many changes
much much pleasure; much sleep

Author: Carolina Duran

Carolina is a Marketing professional in London. She is passionate about writing, and design. Originally from Spain, Carolina focuses on topics such as English Grammar and Culture, Marketing, and General knowledge. As the creator of this blog she hopes learners will join the community, contribute and enjoy learning English together.

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