Thursday, January 2, 2014

Coffee Culture in Australia

I love my coffee.  See my ever evolving latte art above.  Regardless of the region and the way the local culture drinks their coffee, I get engaged and enjoy it.  One of my favourite experiences is breakfast while staying in Italian hotels.  Not because of what I traditionally think of breakfast, but because of the cappuccino and espresso that is served with near perfect consistency, and all included in the ridiculously low room rate.  Even outside the hotels that perfect coffee is just 1 euro.

Cappuccino and Brioche on one of my trips to Milan

Fast forward to Perth, and we are fully enveloped by a coffee culture with it's own lingo that will certainly trip up those new to it.
Epic Espresso in West Perth - My personal favourite cafe

Perth, like Italy is an espresso based coffee culture.  Drip coffee is nearly unheard of though you are starting to see some shops serve a "pour over" like it is some sort of special alchemy to be tried by true coffee aficionados.  Coffee here is also often very milk based.

If you order a coffee in North America you will receive a drip coffee and usually the standard "Do you take cream or sugar?".

In Italy the simple "un cafe per favor" will garner you one shot of espresso.

In Australia...."coffee please" will likely get you a blank stare followed by "so....Flat White?"

Ok lets go through the options and what they mean:

Short Black = 1 shot of espresso.  You certainly can ask for a double short black as well.  It should be served in a small ceramic cup and drank immediately.

Long Black = An americano.  Take a shot of espresso and add boiling water.  Generally 1/3 coffee to 2/3 water.

Flat White = It's supposed to be a stronger version of a latte where the milk is not as frothed.  In my experience it is just a latte with less foam but some may disagree.

Latte = Latte  I think we're ok here.  The only difference in Australia is it's often served in a clear picardie glass.

Cappuccino = No real change here.  It's often served with chocolate powder on top and I find them to be much less strong than what I would get in Italy.

Short Macchiatto - If you frequent Starbucks, forget what Starbucks told the world a macchiatto was.  A proper macchiatto is a shot of espresso with small "stain" of steamed milk foam.

Long Macchiatto (usually topped up) - Bring on the marching angry barrista's.  This is consistently made differently so you are best to tell someone how you want it made if you are going to order it but generally it is 2 shots of espresso with steamed milk topped up to an 8 oz glass.  Often if served to "dine in" it comes in a clear glass.  Many barristas will argue that this is a piccolo latte.  The problem I have with this is that ordering a piccolo latte often gets me a stare, follow by "Flat white-then?".

One of my frustrations with many coffee shops is that they offer different sizes and if you go for a larger size you get more milk.  I'm told there are barristas that know better but I've yet to find them.  My solution: order a small only.  This has the benefit of keeping the Italian coffee gods happy as well.  This is of course assuming you don't order a milk based drink like a cappuccino after 11am.

I should mention to be prepared to pay for that coffee.  Perth ranks as having the most expensive cup of coffee in Australia with an average price above 4 dollars.

Love coffee....please share...How do you take it?


  1. Hey Mike!

    Thought I'd pop by your blog and say "hello"... I've been over to Edmonton once and was struck by the friendliness of Edmontonians? Is that right? Spot on about the 'alchemy' aspect of drip coffee! Great take on that. Can I borrow it? Well I hope you are settling into Perth okay. I always like to reach out to new Canadian expat bloggers and say "Hi!" Smiles, Diana

    1. Thanks for stopping by Diana! Steal shamelessly. I really need to spend some time on your beautiful site.
      Kind regards,