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Friday, November 13, 2015

Cracking the Code of Australian Coffee

Alisha McDarris

Ordering coffee in Australia isn't like ordering coffee in the U.S. Or anywhere, for that matter. You can't just waltz into any cafe and order a macchiato and expect a syrupy, sugary, milky mess like you get at Starbucks (although true coffee connoisseurs are fully aware that Starbucks is hardly on point when it comes to coffee). On the contrary, everybody in Australia knows how to make a brilliant cuppa (translation: cup of coffee). It's quite impressive, actually. Probably because they've been drinking espresso longer than we have in the U.S. But in order not to be disappointed with what you're handed when you order a latte, do your homework first and you won't bat an eye when you look over your first cafe menu in Australia.

Here are the big players when it comes to coffee:

  • Short Black: This is an espresso. Same as in the States, just goes by a different name.
  • Long Black: Nope, this isn't a doppio (double espresso), but nice try. It's what we would call an Americano, but usually smaller, which means the coffee to water ratio is higher, which means it's a bit stronger.
  • Macchiato: Much like in the U.S., this is an espresso topped with milk foam.
  • Latte: Similar to the American version, but smaller, so stronger, and usually served in a small glass (if you're not taking it to go, of course). And don't expect to find a bunch of fancy flavored syrups that turn your coffee into a fruffy dessert. It's just not popular in Oz.
  • Cappuccino: You're safe with this one. It's pretty much the same as in the U.S. Again, just a bit smaller.
  • Mocha: Similar to the above mentioned latte, but with chocolate. The kind of chocolate will vary, but it won't be nearly as sweet as the American variety.
  • Flat White: My favorite Australian coffee, It's similar to a latte, but with virtually no foam. Just enough to make latte art, a skill nearly every barista possesses. Also small, it's a bit stronger than a latte, usually. And keep in mind that some cafes use a double shot by default, so if you're particular, just ask.
  • Piccolo Latte: Like a macchiato, but with more milk. Or a latte, but with less milk, if you will.
  • Brewed Coffee: Bad news for you drip coffee fans. It's not popular here. You'll be hard pressed to find a coffee pot or even a pour-over bar in most places in Australia. It's espresso or nothin' in these parts. Except in Melbourne. Their coffee scene is a bit more robust and offers more options.
  • Large or Regular: There's none of that "tall," "grande," "venti" nonsense that you sometimes have to deal with in the states. So if you try to order a "grande skinny capp," you may get some funny looks. 
  • Milk: Also good to know is that almond and soy milk are just as widely available in Oz as in the States. However, half and half isn't really a thing and neither is 2% at most cafes. Skim and whole milk are all you've got for cow juice, so it's all or nothin'.
Hopefully we've set you straight and prepared you for your first coffee order in Australia. Trust us, it's gonna be worth the effort!

Alisha McDarris / Author & Editor

Alisha has been a writer and photographer forever. OK, maybe not forever, but at least for more of her 20-something years than she hasn’t been those things... [Read More]

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