Before heading to Melbourne I knew that I was going to the land of the flat white and with a strong specialty coffee culture. Never did I think about the fact that the menu would be so different, new beverages (hello Magic) would appear and the coffee drinkers are so fuzzy. If you are deciding to head over the capital of specialty coffee, read this and be prepared for a coffee culture shock.
I have traveled quite a lot for coffee as The Exploring Barista. I thought I had some coffee culture knowledge, but as soon as I arrived in Melbourne I realized I just understood the difference in the European specialty coffee. Melbourne is an amazing city, with a good vibe and so many great cafés, but as a Barista it can be pretty difficult. The fuzzy customers (don’t get me wrong it’s a good thing that you know what you like but you can also exaggerate) don’t make preparing coffee always the most fun thing to do. Later more about this.
What I noticed about the coffee menu of the big specialty coffee shops is that you don’t find all the different coffee drinks on the menu board. It is probably divided in black, white and filter/pour over. And maybe you find some special coffees or hot drinks like matcha, chai latte or hot chocolate.
There is another difference in coffee menu of Australia – the coffee names.
The most common black & white coffees
Short black simply is an espresso. Which is also the base of all the other espresso based drinks. Short black could be a single or a double espresso. But many people are using the word espresso in stead of short black I noticed. So espresso is the base for the other drinks. In Australia the amount of coffee that goes in the basked (the dose) is around 20-22 gr. With a yield (what ends up in the cup) of around 40-44 gr – so a ratio from 1:2. With my experience as working in different cafés in Europe I think it’s more common to use 18-20 gr of ground coffee as a dose.
Long black equals americano. Which is, in my opinion and experience, made the same way as in Europe. Hot water in the cup and a double espresso on top. An americano or long black is not a large cup of coffee. The same cup as flat white or cappuccino is used.
Shot macchiato / Long macchiato
Popularly called shot or long mac. Short macchiato is similar to the European one. Single shot of espresso with a dash of milk or foam or topped up with me, jus like the customer prefers. Long mac is a bit different, but depends on where you are in Australia. Prepared with two shots of espresso and a dash of textured milk. Only in Melbourne there is way of adding hot water and than a dash of milk. Apparently there is a different version in Perth, where the glass with a double shot of espresso is topped up with milk. I would say just ask your customer how they like it.
The flat white is getting more popular everywhere in the world. Big chains are advertising with his coffee drink, but they don’t really know how to make it. The flat white found its origin when coffee consumers were getting fed up with ordering a cappuccino and sipping a cup with 2/3 of liquid and 1/3th of dry foam. So they ordered a milk coffee, but no foam so flat. If you ask me I would say a flat white would be made in the same cup as a cappuccino but when a cappuccino has a single shot of espresso, a flat white would be made with a double shot. But as I explain later people would order weak, normal or strong, so there my amount of shots theory ends goes. No one really knows where the flat white found its origin. The aussies say it’s invented by them, the kiwis say it comes from New-Zealand.
Also known as capp, to keep it simple and cool. So a cappuccino is made with a single shot of espresso, which is similar to European standards. But where in European specialty coffee shops it’s like forbidden to add cacao powder to the cappuccino, your Australian customer will be upset if the chocolate powder on top is missing. At first I was a bit sceptic and anti cacao. But actually it can be really fun and tasty. Just add a bit of cacao powder to the espresso shot and then make the latte art.
Nowadays you get a large glass, lot of milk and a single shot of coffee as a latte. While in Australia a latte isn’t so milky. You can compare the size with a typical water glass that is being used at many cafes. This makes a latte still tasting like coffee. I never enjoyed making lattes in Europe and I would never order one, until I lived in Melbourne. This totally changed my mind. Next to that a latte macchiato doesn’t exists (luckily). I have a very strong opinion about latte macchiato, but I better keep that to myself.
Yes preparing coffee is magic, but this is actually a milk-based coffee beverage. The first time someone ordered ‘a magic’ with me I was confused and shocked at the same time. Did this lady really asked for a magic? Don’t get me wrong I kind of like it that they named a coffee magic. Because good coffee is definitely magic. There are different ways to prepare this magical coffee. First thing is that in most cafes they use a different button on the espresso machine to prepare the magic. Using a double shot but extracted in a shorter time than a double espresso, called a double ristretto. So it would be more intense in flavor, but not in caffeine. A smaller cup is used and filled up with (mostly a little colder, than usual, textured milk. If there are no special cups for the magic, the cup will be 3/4 full. I think a magic is invented by fuzzy customers (sorry guys!).
Or the Piccololo (just invented by a colleague and me, because it sounds good). But with my Barista experience in Spain, a piccolo is just a cortado. Mostly made in a glass that is smaller than a latte glass. Single shot of espresso topped up with creamy textured milk.
What is very normal in Australia is adding things to your coffee order. And I don’t mean syrups or whipped cream. The Australian coffee consumers are very specific and fuzzy when it comes to their daily dose of caffeine. So instead of calling it single or double shot, they will ask for weak or strong. Half or 3/4 full is also very common. And asking for soy or extra hot isn’t a big deal either. Iced coffees are not really mentioned on the menu, but you can ask for a coffee with ice and that’s basically the same. I have to say that all these add ons and specializations are not making it easier or more fun to make coffees. I remember I had a ticket with four cappuccinos on it. One with soy, one 3/4 full, one strong, and one normal. It definitely takes more time to prepare and the work pressure is higher. So be prepared to work as a Barista in Australia.