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Ordering a coffee in Australia

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Just thought I would clear up the confusion when people "just want a coffee"! In Australia we do have plenty to choose from on our coffee menu so I have explained each drink below. Each drink is espresso based, meaning the coffee used in the process is from an espresso machine. If you just order an espresso coffee, you will get an....

Espresso: AKA short black. Single 30ml shot of espresso. A double espresso is two 30ml shots together.

Ristretto: Similar to an espresso but a restricted shot of only 15ml. It is a very rich short drink.

Short Macchiatto: Espresso with a dollop of froth.

Long Black: Hot water then a double espresso

Americano: Upside down long black (Double espresso then hot water)

Long Macchiatto: Ask the cafe; there are two variations. One is similar to a long black, but with less hot water and froth on top. The other is like a short macchiatto but with a bit more froth and a bit of milk.

Cappuccino: 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, 1/3 froth

Latte: Same amount of espresso as cappuccino, but less froth - approximately 1cm. Served in a glass generally.

Flat White: Same amount of espresso as cappuccino and latte, but with between 0-5 ml of froth.

Note: All three drinks above are very similar, only difference is the amount of froth.

Half Latte/Piccolo Latte: These drinks are similar or the same, but may vary depending on the cafe. Same as a latte but with less milk, to make it a stronger coffee with a bit of froth but not too much.

Affogatto: Scoop of ice cream and espresso

Iced Latte: Generally means cold espresso, milk and ice cubes.

Iced Coffee: Generally means cold epsresso, milk and ice cream. Cream optional.

"Froth" is the common name for micro-foam, which is created when steaming the milk. This should be smooth and creamy - if not, go to a different coffee shop!

I hope I have been of help!

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  1. A question: i thought if it was really well stretched and textured there isn't really a froth at all. It all becomes a very smooth micro-foam that holds together when it is poured. I tend to change coffee shops if there is a noticable separation into milk and froth. Am I incorrect?

    1 Reply
    1. re: PhilD

      Forth is a colloquial term, I guess, for micro-foam. You are correct in saying the noticeable separation is not good; this means the milk has not been stretched properly and the separated foam will not have the creamy texture of correctly textured micro-foam. When you drink a cappuccino, for example, it should be very thick and creamy, as the froth/micro-foam has not separated from the milk.

    2. A great comprehensive guide. Thanks for posting. I'm sure this will be useful for anyone visiting Australia. Now we just need someone to post photos to show examples of each.

      One thing, though, is that I thought the difference between a flat white and latte was the ratio of milk, there being less milk in a flat white, not just different ratios of milk and foam. Is this not the case? It does seem that the milkiness both flat whites and lattes can vary a great deal from one cafe to another.

      3 Replies
      1. re: gemuse

        A common misapprehension but to be fair it does depend where you go - of all the drinks, this is the one most changed to a house style. Latte and flat white are (formally) defined as essentially the same drink, with latte in a glass and FW in a cup. Because a glass is usually narrower, it looks like there is more foam.

        1. re: mr_gimlet

          Gemuse, I'd say that this is actually true for a lot of places (despite not being the formal definition) - I know all the cafes I have worked in have done so.

          PhilD, you're partly right in that immediately after the milk is steamed (and of course, also poured immediately!) there should be no clear "milk/froth" delineation. But once it's in the glass/cup (or if the barista lets the milk rest in the jug for too long), the microbubbles will unavoidably rise to the top all of their own accord, simply because of their lower density. If you lurk around next to the coffee machine and watch a latte closely, you'll be able to faintly see the darkness of the espresso "falling" from the top of the coffee a little as the "head" forms seemingly out of nowhere. A little like when you pour a beer. Perhaps you drink your coffee too fast to notice it forming!!! - but as a slow drinker I have never been to a coffee shop where the milk doesn't EVENTUALLY (like, 3 or 4 minutes maybe) separate into a thicker "head" and thinner body. Seems like to stop it from doing so would be a bit of a miracle! (If you know of anywhere in Perth that can do this, let me know :) )

          Oh also! - don't forget that we weirdos in Perth have another variation on the long macchiato - we like to top it up, so it becomes a double or triple-strength latte... this can be quite vexing for Sydneysiders when the cafe doesn't think to ask if they want their LM "topped up or traditional?" and they receive a bucket of milk but only expected a teaspoonfull!

          1. re: verysimple

            I'm in Perth now and the whole "topped up short mac" thing is irritating! does not seem to happen anywhere else in Australia and I have to remember to say traditional or I end up w a latte. And even w traditional, I often get too much milk. Zekka is my current favorite, _love_ zekka. and Elixir. And Dancing Goat. but, finding fantastic espresso on a Sunday is a real challenge, not to be found in the cbd, we went to Victoria Park to a place called The Imp for coffee this morning. they use fiori beans and bannister downs milk and it is good. and there is breakfast too.

      2. I wish I had had this sort of guide a year ago :) But, as a woman of simple tastes, was able to quickly identify my drink of choice as a Long Black.

        1. Now this is a great post - helps tremendously! And saves a few baristas the pain of dealing with my orders.

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