A Canadian coffee lover’s experience in Australia
“Coffee is a lot more than just a drink; it’s something happening. Not as in hip, but like an event, a place to be, but not like a location, but like somewhere within yourself. It gives you time, but not actual hours or minutes, but a chance to be, like be yourself, and have a second cup.” ~ Gertrude Stein
OzTREKK Director Chris Nolan loves coffee. In fact, every time he visits “headquarters” here in Perth, he juggles multiple cups throughout the day with grin in place, eyes crinkled, and music wafting from whichever area he’s “working” in. We’ll use the term working loosely here. Mostly he’s chatting with all of us and encouraging us to stop what we’re doing to enjoy a moment of hilarity. Always a bonus, working at OzTREKK.
So, as our coffee connoisseur, Chris has noted there are some not-so-subtle differences between Canuck coffee and Aussie coffee, and for everyone heading to Oz, you’ll need to be up on your coffee vocab. We’ll let Chris explain:
I love coffee. Appreciate a well-prepared cup, sitting and savouring it while catching up on the news of the day, or in a café chatting with a friend or people watching. I am not a fancy coffee drinker who orders a low fat, triple shot, with extra hot soy milk in a small cup kind of guy, but I appreciate good coffee.
You know who else enjoys quality coffee? Aussies!
It was one of the first things I noticed about Australia my first time there: they are fanatical about their coffee. And it is very European in that regard with a focus on espresso-based coffee, likely because of the large immigration of Italians post WWII. For those of you who have been fortunate enough to visit Australia, you will know what I am talking about. For those of you who haven’t, here is some lingo to remember when ordering coffee in Oz!
You can still get a regular latté, cappuccino, mocha in most cafés, but here are three staples in Aussie coffee culture you should know about:
1. The long black – No Tim Horton’s “double doubles” here. If you are a straight-up drip-coffee kind of person, your closest thing to that would be a long black. It’s a shot of espresso with extra hot water. As a mainly drip-coffee fella, I have fallen in love with the long black.
2. The short black – Simply a shot of espresso—go figure!
3. The flat white – This would serve those well who appreciate lattés and cappuccinos, although it’s less frothy than a cappuccino. It’s an espresso shot with steamed milk. It’s popularity in Australia has made its way to cafés in North America, and it’s a regular offering on the Starbucks chalkboards. Any Australian will tell you that the Starbucks in North America don’t know what they are doing with flat whites!
When finished ordering at most cafés, you often wait at the table with a number identifying your order, and a waiter/waitress will bring it to you. You can add sugar at the table. My first few long blacks, I ordered extra milk to take the edge off!
Keep these tips in mind when you head to Australia. The Aussies love their coffee, and it’s one of the many things I enjoy about Aussie culture!