When my family was visiting Japan, one thing they complained about was free drink refills of soda.  In America, free refills of your cola is expected.  Not in Japan!   Fast food restaurant don’t have self service sodas like in America.  Sometimes, in family style restaurants, they have what are called “drink bars”–all you can drink soda, tea and coffee.

Some restaurants (especially Chinese or Japanese) will serve free unlimited tea.

You don’t usually get free refills with coffee, either.  I know!  Sad!

So I thought I would explore the world of coffee refills at one of our favorite restaurants, Denny’s!


This is at Denny’s.  Most of the coffee selection is not free refills.

Only their plain regular hot coffee has unlimited refills.  You can tell by the message on the menu above.  Here it is, translated:

お代わり自由   okawari jiyuu           “Free refills”

ドリップ珈琲    dorippu kouhii          “Drip coffee”

ダブル焙煎     daburu baisen           “Double roasted”

I think this Japanese is rather tricky for us foreigners because it uses the kanji for “coffee”.  Usually coffee (kouhii) is written in katakana.  But you need to know the kanji because you may see it on menus.



The regular drip coffee has different prices depending on whether you order it with a meal, or alone.

The photo above says:


Oryouri to setto no gochumon de

“When ordering with food or a meal”

So this is the price for a drink when ordering additional food.  It is 172 yen, and with tax, 185 yen. You MUST order that additional food or you won’t get this price.




tanpin de gochumon itadakuto

“When purchasing alone”

So if you purchase only the regular coffee (without food), its price is 218, or with tax, 235 yen.

“Tanpin” is a useful word that means you are purchasing only that item alone, not together with other items.


If you want to buy the scrumptious cafe latte, you will be charged for any refills. That’s what it says here.   (It’s not regular coffee.)


spesharu kafe no okawari wa, tanpin kakaku to narimasu.

“If you get a refill of the special coffee, you will be charged for it at the regular price.

And you can see the price is 334 or with tax, 360 yen.


So there you go!  Have fun ordering at Denny’s.  After all, nobody wants to cook the day after Thanksgiving.