“Even bad coffee is better than no coffee at all.”

David Lynch, American film director
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This free ESL lesson plan on coffee has been designed for adults and young adults at an intermediate (B1/B2) to advanced (C1/C2) level and should last around 45 to 60 minutes for one student.

For many people, coffee is the fuel that givs them energy in the morning and sees them through the day. There is a debate over where coffee first originated; some legends say in the area of modern Ethiopia, while the first documented evidence of coffee drinking points to Yemen. Centuries later, a whole culture has grown around the beverage, from the independent café culture of Seattle to the artisan baristas of Melbourne. In this ESL lesson plan on coffee, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as their coffee preferences and their favourite coffee shops.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for International Day of Coffee, which takes place in October. For more lesson plans on international days and important holidays, see the calendar of world days to plan your classes for these special occasions.

For advice on how to use this English lesson plan and other lesson plans on this site, see the guide for ESL teachers.


Reading activity
Before the English class, send the following article to the students and ask them to read it while making a list of any new vocabulary or phrases they find (explain any the students don’t understand in the class):


The article lists a number of benefits fair-trade coffee can have for coffee producers including protecting farmers’ incomes when the price of coffee falls, helping coffee growers to become entrepreneurs and helping farmers adapt to climate change. At the start of the class, hold a brief discussion about what the students thought about the article. What do they think about the issues raised in the article? Do they think fair-trade coffee really helps coffee producers? Can they think of any other ways to help coffee farmers?

Video activity
To save time in class for the conversation activities, the English teacher can ask the students to watch the video below and answer the listening questions in Section 3 of the lesson plan at home. There are intermediate listening questions and advanced listening questions so teachers can decide which would be more appropriate for their students. Check the answers in the class.

The video for this class is called “How Does Caffeine Keep Us Awake?” by TED Ed which explains the effects that caffeine has on our brain and body.


The focus in the class is on conversation in order to help improve students’ fluency and confidence when speaking in English as well as boosting their vocabulary.

This lesson opens with a short discussion about the article the students read before the class. Next, the students can give their opinion on the quote at the beginning of the lesson plan – what they think the quote means and if they agree with it. This is followed by an initial discussion on the topic including how much coffee the student drinks, their favourite coffee brand and what they think of big brands like Starbucks.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with coffee such as café, roast and fair trade. This vocabulary has been chosen to boost the students’ knowledge of less common vocabulary that could be useful for preparing for English exams like IELTS or TOEFL. The vocabulary is accompanied by a cloze activity and a speaking activity to test the students’ comprehension of these words.

If the students didn’t watch the video before the class, they can watch it after the vocabulary section and answer the listening questions. Before checking the answers, ask the students to give a brief summary of the video and what they thought about the content.

Finally, there is a more in-depth conversation about coffee. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as whether they can survive without coffee in the morning, the health effects of coffee and whether coffee producers are paid enough.


After the class, students will write about their opinion of coffee. This could be a short paragraph or a longer piece of writing depending on what level the student is at. The writing activity is designed to allow students to practise and improve their grammar with the feedback from their teacher. For students who intend to take an international English exam such as IELTS or TOEFL, there is an alternative essay question to practise their essay-writing skills.


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