Berlitz doesn't help....

Oct 20th, 1999, 01:10 PM
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Berlitz doesn't help....

Most of Europe seems even more addicted to caffeine than the US is (not to mention tobacco, but that's been done to death). I have two different medical problems that make caffeine a very serious problem for me, but sometimes I really want a cup of something hot to drink (fizzy water gets tedious).

How do I ask for decaffeinated tea or coffee (I give up on trying to explain decaf'd colas) in Italian, Spanish, and French to make ABSOLUTELY SURE I won't be slipped some caffeine by someone who doesn't believe me or thinks I'm being a snippy American? Some one has told me that she learned to ask for "infusions" in Paris -- will this guarantee no-caffeine herbal tea? A few decades ago, "Nescafe" meant the same as "Sanka" in some hotels, but in others it just meant instant coffee. Suggestions?
Oct 20th, 1999, 03:45 PM
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Portia: In Spanish, "descafeinado".
Oct 20th, 1999, 03:46 PM
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Cafe Decafeinado (or un decafeinado) is the Spanish phrase for decaf, but I would recommend you bring your own instant decaf packets (individual envelopes) just in case.....
Oct 20th, 1999, 03:55 PM
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P.S. If you'd like it brewed rather than their giving you the Nescafe packets, ask the waiter if they have "descafeinado de cafetera". It will be the expresso machine kind. Most of the good restaurants now serve "descafeinado de cafetera".
Oct 20th, 1999, 04:42 PM
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French is a little different in Quebec, but growing up in Montreal we always drank "tisane" (any type of herbal tea) pronounced ti-ZHAN
Oct 20th, 1999, 07:36 PM
Bob Brown
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In French, my only clue is from a Berlitz phrase book that says
une cafe decafeine

ang kahfey daycahfayeenay phonetically speaking. As you can deduce, decafeine is French for decaffeinated.
The same book agrees on the herbal tea phrase listed by our for Montreal dweller.
My German coach has departed for other lands, but if I were in Germany I would ask:
Gibt es Kaffee ohne Koffein?
(Geebt es kahfay owneh kawffeen)
The o is like the a in paw.
or Gibt es Kaffee dass koffeinfrei ist?
or you might try
Ich moechte eine Tasse koffeinfreien Kaffee haben. The phonetic version in my Berlitz book makes me not trust Berlitz, because what they list doesn't sound anything like what my German coach had me saying. They may not be totally correct, but I think they would deliver the idea.
Depending upon where you are, many German restaurants can handle English.
Ask for it like you usually do.
If they don't know what it is, just write down the phrase for them. The operative word is koffeinfrei.
Koffein = caffeine and frei = free.
Herbal tea is Kraeutertee. Kraeuter is like in Kroyter. And tee rhymes with day. And koffeinfrei can apply as well to tea.
I hope this helps a little. At any rate, you don't run a risk of saying something that would get you arrested.

I have a similar problem to yours, so I don't take chances. I survive on water and apple juice when "over there".

Oct 20th, 1999, 07:50 PM
Bob Brown
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OOPS. Told you my German coach was gone.
The word is spelled Koffein as stated but pronounced with the ein sounding like the pronoun I with an n on the end.
Oct 21st, 1999, 03:53 AM
Mary Ann
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Another alternative is to just take and carry with you single serve decafinated tea bags/coffee bags and order hot water. Another alternative may be lemonade.
Oct 22nd, 1999, 10:08 AM
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Portia: in French ask for "café décafféiné" or "café sans cafféine".
You might also ask by the leading decaf brand in wide parts of Europe: "Kaffee Hag".
Oct 22nd, 1999, 10:27 AM
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Portia: I think I read in the most recent TimeOut-Paris, that the way to order decaf in France is to order "un Hag".
Oct 22nd, 1999, 11:34 AM
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Portia, if you have a health problem with caffeine, either carry herbal tea or ask for camomille --sounds the same in all languages, and you can smell it before you drink. I've been served coffee with caffeine many times when I've asked for decaf, in the states and abroad. But I just lay in bed with my eyes wide open. If I were you, I wouldn't take a chance.
Oct 22nd, 1999, 12:30 PM
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Hi Portia
I recently went to Paris after not having been there for 3-4 years and one thing I noticed is that decaf coffee
was available everywhere.
Ask for un deca (day-ka)
Of course there are always careless or thoughtless waiters anywhere, but that can happen in the US as well. I assure you though that decaf is no longer unusual or uniquely American in Paris.
Do realize though that, except at breakfast, an order for coffee (cafe)
whether "deca" or not is most likely going to get you an express, very strong coffee in a little cup.
There are some cafes and restaurants that will give you a cafe creme (coffee with milk) in the late afternoon or even in the evening, but that is not the norm.Coffee with milk, ditto cappucino, is considered a morning drink, unless the place caters to Americans.
A "default" coffee will always be the
express, unless otherwise specified.
Oct 23rd, 1999, 07:13 AM
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Portia (and anyone else....), do be aware that decaffeinated coffee is not the same as caffeine-free coffee. "Decaf" (however you want to say it) is anywhere from 5-20 or 30 percent of the caffeine of "leaded" coffee -- so that two or three cups of decaf, esp. if it's strong, will add up to all the caffeine of a single cup of leaded. Watch out for chocolate, too -- you add the caffeine to the theobromines in "chocolat" and you've got a drink with a serious kick to it.

If you have arthritis or are on one of those medications that react badly with caffeine, I'd stick to teas in one form or another.

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