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In English we can use phrases like "a beer" or "a coffee" (ref). For example, in the English dictionary, it says "coffee" can be defined as "a cup of coffee" which then becomes countable.

coffee [mass noun]

1 a hot drink made from the roasted and ground seeds (coffee beans) of a tropical shrub

[count noun] a cup of coffee: she'll buy you a coffee.

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In Spanish, I have also seen usages like "un café" and "un té".

  • Are nouns like "café" and "té" countable or uncountable (and does it matter)?
  • Are these usages the same as the usages in English (i.e., shortened forms of "una taza de café" and "Una taza de té")? Are there any notable exceptions?
  • Can we use "dos cafés" and "tres tés" to refer to "two cups of coffee" and "three cups of tea"?
  • Can we use "unos cafés" and "unos tés" to refer to "some coffees" and "some teas"?
  • Can these be generalized to other nouns about liquids?

Thanks!

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Are nouns like "café" and "té" countable or uncountable (and does it matter)?

They can be either countable or uncountable, just like in English.

Are these usages the same as the usages in English (i.e., shortened forms of "una taza de café" and "Una taza de té")? Are there any notable exceptions?

Yes, they are. You can absolutely say "un café" or "un té". I can't think of any exceptions.

Can we use "dos cafés" and "tres tés" to refer to "two cups of coffee" and "three cups of tea"?

Yes, of course.

By the way, I just learned the plural form of "té" is "tés" rather than "tes" (even though the tilde has no discernible purpose).

Can we use "unos cafés" and "unos tés" to refer to "some coffees" and "some teas"?

Yep. "Ponnos unos cafés".

Can these be generalized to other nouns about liquids?

Yes, they can: "dos cervezas", "un agua", "unas cocacolas". I think we tend to avoid it in cases where it's ambiguous whether we refer to glasses or bottles: "Ponme dos vinos".

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    I disagree with you in your last point. We do say "ponme dos vinos". There is no ambiguity whatsoever because the exact meaning depends on the context. If you are in a restaurant with a friend and you say that sentence, you're going to be served two glasses of wine. If you are in a liquour store and you order two wines, you're going to be served two bottles. – RubioRic Apr 4 '20 at 8:08
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    You are right. "Most people wouldn't say..." was too strong a statement. I've changed it, but I still think "ponme dos vinos" sounds a bit awkward and isn't as common as "ponme dos cervezas". – OnlyThenDidIReckonMyCurse Apr 4 '20 at 9:27
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    Bueno, no sé desde donde escribes pero quizás tienes razón, aquí en el sur de España, es más común emplear diminutivos, algo como: "Manué, ponte aquí dos vinitos, illo! Y unas arvellanas!" ;-P – RubioRic Apr 4 '20 at 9:30

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