Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

talk about it over coffee in English

Do you live on coffee?

What other foods or drinks do you consume heavily?

Today we’ll answer a question about this topic from a listener.

Hi Lindsay, Hi Michelle,

I am writing you from the other side of the Pond. My name’s Gian Luca and I am from Italy. I just want to tell you that your podcasts are awesome: I’ve been listening to them for months and now I feel more confident, it’s all thanks to you and to your shows. I used to be 

discouraged and I didn’t like speaking English, but now I can definitely say that your 20-minute shows are undoubtedly the activity I prefer during the day. I always listen to you when I go to the gym to work out and you are a special part of my everyday life!

Stop gabbing, I have a question for you. I was curious about an expression you have used in one of your podcasts, it was very early in the morning and you said that you 

‘live on coffee’. What does it mean? Is there any other expression related to beverages you use in current English? I found for instance ‘Wake up and smell the coffee’ or ‘all the tea in China’ or even ‘my cup of tea’. Could you please explain their meaning?

Thank you very much and… keep up the good work!!! Gian Luca, Italy


Good question!

“To live on coffee” means to drink a lot of it.


Other expressions:

  • “Wake up and smell the coffee”=  this is not so common. This might have been used as a marketing slogan for a popular coffee brand  in the past. This means that someone should come out of their fantasy and become aware of the situation.
  • “All the tea in China”= we don’t use this phrase much
  • “Not my cup of tea”=  not my thing, not my kind of person or kind of thing

These expressions are okay and people will understand you if you use them.

However, they may not be the most current or trendy phrases right now that native speakers are using.

Below we give you a few others that are better.


Current expressions:

  • “To live on something.”= to rely on something, to consume a lot of something
    • “Most college kids in the US live on pizza and ramen (not the good kind).”
  • “To discuss something, to debate something, over coffee/over tea/over dinner.”
  • “I am a ___ person” (tea/coffee) and you can expand out:
    • I am a dog person.
    • I am a cat person.
    • I am a city person.
  • Pronunciation tip: a cup of coffee or a cup of tea= a cuppa coffee, a cuppa tea


What questions do you have about today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

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