My first coffee in Australia was a Macchiato. Before I ordered, I’d imagined something like the below photo, because I usually drink a “Caramel Macchiato” from Starbucks in Japan.
But what I found was completely different from that Macchiato which I knew.
Compared with the cake, this Macchiato was so small, and looked bitter. And the taste was like an Espresso. Then I realized that the coffee culture in Australia is completely different from Japan! I’d never heard of “Long Black” or “Flat White” and had no idea what they were.
Australian coffee culture is influenced by the large number of Italian immigrants who moved to Australia many years ago. Australian coffees are based on excellent espresso, which is extracted by an espresso machine, like in Italy. On the other hand, Seattle style coffee (eg Starbucks), which is the major one in Japan, is also based on espresso but puts a stronger emphasis on the arrangement of milk and other various flavours. Starbucks expanded its shops all over the world but the Australian coffee culture didn’t allow its advance in Australia. There is no room for Starbucks to intervene into the coffee market, where high-quality local coffee shops are competing and Australians have discerning palates. Australians are crazy for coffee.
There are 9 major coffee types that make up most of the Australian coffee culture;
- Espresso / Short Black: a straight shot of coffee. The espresso must be excellent for the coffee to be perfect.
- Long Black: a double shot of espresso with hot water, similar to an Americano.
- Macchiato: a shot of espresso with a small amount of frothed milk (the barista might ask you, “one or double shot” like they did to me…). Very strong like a short black.
- Cappuccino: the same amount of coffee and steamed milk, with frothed milk and chocolate powder on top.
- Ristretto: a shot of espresso with less water.
- Piccolo: a Ristretto with frothed milk, served in a small glass. Like a smaller version of a Latte.
- Flat White: a shot of espresso with steamed hot milk. This is a really milky coffee (coffee: milk=1:8) similar to an American Latte. Only found in Australia and New Zealand or Australian cafes overseas.
- Latte: a Flat White with a layer of foamed milk. The milkiest one on the menu.
- Mocha: a Latte with chocolate.
There are really many kinds of coffee, so it is difficult to choose one for a coffee beginner like me. Well, which one is the most popular among students at Griffith University?
I asked 100 people at Nathan Campus about their favorite beverage. (8 May 2015)
“What do you usually drink at a café?”
- Flat White
- Chai Latte
The highest ratio is 25%, Latte, and the second one is Flat White. I also asked two cafés at Nathan Campus about the most popular coffee in their café (not by exact data, just impression). At Café Rossa, it is Cappucino. On the other hand, Flat White is the most popular one at Café Enternet.
The fifth most popular is the Chai Latte, this is not a kind of coffee and has recently become popular in Australia. It is usually made from chai tea powder (that includes many kinds of spices like cardamom), steamed milk and is topped with cinnamon powder.
What surprised me is some people don’t drink coffee at all in this coffee loving country. According to this survey, 30% of people don’t drink coffee but choose tea, Chai Latte or nothing. They do not like coffee with that strong bitter taste but prefer tea, for example Green Tea and English Breakfast.
Actually, I preferred tea to coffee when I was in Japan. However, don’t you think it would be a waste to not enjoy café life in Australia? Most cafés just use tea bags when making tea and you can drink it at home (unless you have an espresso machine and want to drink coffee at home too). The beverage I want you to try is a “Green Tea Latte”. It is called ”Latte”, but it doesn’t include espresso, instead it’s made out of green tea powder and milk steamed by the espresso machine!!
In Australia, you have many choices of coffee and other beverages at cafés. Please try them and find your own favorite one. I’m sure it will help you when you are really exhausted, for example, during exams… Good luck for your café life and final exam!
Mayuko is a Global Mobility student from Japan who loves Australian cafe culture and supporting her home team at the football 🙂