I grew up drinking coffee. I awoke to the smell of a fresh brewed pot and knew it was time to get up; my mother’s was so strong, my father used to call it mud. At our house, a good, strong cup of coffee was revered.
Because of my upbringing, I thought I knew a little something about coffee. Then I came to Australia. I was completely out of my depth.
When I walked into a café for the first time and asked for “a cup of coffee,” I was met with blank stares. The barista, as they are called, pointed to the menu. I may as well have been reading another language. Thanks to a large influx of Italian immigrants, the espresso style of coffee reigns supreme. The only thing on the menu that I knew was a latte, so I ordered that. This cup of coffee was unlike any cup of mud my mother had ever made. It was smooth and nutty and bitter all at the same time.
Eventually, after a few more tries, I became more confident. I tried them all and settled on my preferred cup, a latte. A skinny latte, to be precise (that’s fancy café-talk for a latte with skim milk).
I felt pretentious ordering a skinny latte every time I wanted a cup of coffee, but that didn’t last long. Soon I was meeting up with friends for coffee, heading out of the office with co-workers to grab a quick cup and dragging my boyfriend to new cafes every Saturday morning. It wasn’t just something to start the day with; coffee became part of my lifestyle.
I’ve met people here from all over the world. Many of them didn’t really drink coffee until they came to Australia. All of them now drink at least one a day. Some go for a cappuccino while others are strict flat white drinkers. All have their favorites.
Feel like you need some guidance? Here are the Australian coffee basics:
Flat White: A shot of espresso with slightly frothed hot milk
Latte: A shot of espresso with frothed milk (more than a flat white)
Short Black: A shot of espresso
Long Black: A shot of espresso topped up with hot water
Cappuccino: A shot of espresso with hot milk and topped with foamed milk and cocoa powder
Macchiato: A shot of espresso with a very small amount of foamed milk
Coffee in Australia is part of the culture and when you immerse yourself in a city’s daily grind, you are bound to pick up some of its habits. So next time you head down under, test them out. You’re bound to find your favorite.