How to Drink Coffee

The first time I ordered a coffee to-go in Melbourne, I asked where the sugar was. The barista sounded surprised and asked how much I wanted and then opened the lid of my cup and put it in for me and I was totally weirded out. Once coffee making is complete, it feels overly intimate for anyone, even the person who made it, to touch it ever again.

Before moving here, it had been 7 years since I last worked in hospitality (5 according to my resume 😉 ). I really missed working with the public while I was in Kazakhstan and so I thought it’d be fun to do barista work while looking for librarian positions (p.s. potential library employers, those resumes are all truthful). I quickly found work at one cafe but they felt I wasn’t up to par and asked if I would focus on waitressing instead.

Well, I had the last laugh because I may be a mediocre barista but I’m an absolute shit waitress. After two weeks of spilling meatball sauce all over myself, telling weirdo dudes, “no, I’m not Swedish,” and trying not to cry when the head chef yelled at me, we had a mutual breakup.

Nevertheless, I learned some things about coffee in Australia.

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 1.18.23 pm

I’m unemployed, can you tell?

Types of Coffee

Cappuccino – same as North America except here it’s always served with chocolate powder on top.

Latte – straightforward. Except when to stay, it’s served in a glass.

Flat White – I’d been wondering about this drink for a while since certain Starbucks have started selling them. But according to the cafe I worked at, a flat white and a latte are exactly the same except a flat white is served in a ceramic cup. And perhaps has a bit less foam.

Long Black – basically an americano. With a long black, the shots are poured in after the water so the crema remains on top and vice versa for americano.

Short Black – just an espresso shot.

Macchiato – single espresso shot with a bit of milk.

Piccolo – single espresso shot with a bit of milk. I don’t understand how it’s different than a macchiato except that it’s more fun to say. Though I prefer its informal name of “baby latte.”

Magic – a flat white with only 3/4 of the milk. Ordering a magic is also akin to an announcement that you’re a pretentious douche about coffee.

Drip Coffee – nowhere to be found. Unless it’s some slow-drip French press eye roll style thing.

Flavoured Coffees – Only the standard vanilla, hazelnut, chocolate, and caramel syrups.

Essentially, coffee is real no nonsense in Aus, and things like frapuccinos, gourdian spices, and very large cup sizes are not condoned.


Taken while I was writing this and realized I didn’t have any photos for the post. How meta. Also that is a subpar heart but an A+ ivy leaf.


  • Cafes almost always close by 3 or 4.
  • No Starbucks in sight.
  • It’s “takeaway” not “to go.”
  • Ask for sugar or milk when ordering takeaway.
  • Your name will always be abbreviated, making you feel as though you’re on bff terms with your barista. When I order takeaway, I’m “Bec” not “Rebecca.” It’s a general Australianism to abbreviate everything.
  • I find the milk is never steamed hot enough here and all my lattes are lukewarm. How far I have come, from Kazakhstan’s second world problems (like, having to wait ten minutes for an americano) to the mundane first world problems of the western world.

2 thoughts on “How to Drink Coffee

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