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How to Order Coffee in Australian: A Quick Guide for the North American Traveler in Australia & New Zealand

Updated on May 26, 2012
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Traveling to Australia or New Zealand?

If you thought Starbucks was a confusing place in which to order coffee, you’ve neve tried in Australia (or New Zealand as this vocabulary applies there too). They don’t seem to call it the way we call it in the US or Canada, and it took me a few days--and a few misordered products--to work it all out. Of course, once you learn the lingo, it actually makes quite a bit of sense, mate.

  • Short Black: This is a single shot of espresso.
  • Long Black: Espresso with water (1/3 espresso 2/3 water). If you want a close approximation of a regular cup ‘o joe, order a long black. It’s equivalent to a Cafe Americano ordered in your local coffeehouse.

Simple, yeah? Well, I hope you didn’t want milk with that. That’s where the confusion starts.

  • Flat White: This is a popular drink in Australia and New Zealand. As far as I know, it’s not served anywhere else in the world. A flat white is an espresso with steamed milk (about 1/3 espresso, 2/3 milk). The closest approximation in America would be a no foam latte.

So, what if you want a regular cup o’ joe with milk?

  • You order a Long Black with Milk on the Side. This gives you cold milk to add to your long black.

Thankfully a latte is a latte and a cappaccino is a cappaccino.

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      Michael 5 years ago

      To clarify espresso in Australia should be a specific blend where a short or long black are made using the same basic technique but with any coffee blend (but most often espresso).

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      Georgia 5 years ago

      Mickis, you're great! There are so different from what Australian and American coffee!

    • MickiS profile image
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      MickiS 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Nifwlseirff, thanks for the comment! I love, Melbourne, by the way! I've been twice for extended trips and can't wait to return! Now...off to make my own flat white...

    • nifwlseirff profile image

      Kymberly Fergusson 5 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

      I do miss the coffee in my hometown (Melbourne)! That list does apply to most, if not all, cafes in Australia. Although when you get far into the bush and order from a truck stop, you may only have the choice of coffee/tea, with or without milk.

      Simone - I know some people don't like bubbles, plus I think lattes (30ml/1oz espresso shot + milk) have more milk than flat whites (long black + milk).

      Other coffee types you may come across in Au: macchiato (long/short black with a little cold milk), ristretto (short concentrated espresso), mocha (latte with chocolate), babycinos (pure frothed milk, for kids), and my favourite dessert coffee - affogato (espresso over ice cream). Hmm... now I need a coffee!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      How interesting! I wonder why folks would opt for a flat white instead of a normal foamy latte. Perhaps it's because nonfat and lowfat milk is less popular? I know it's much harder to foam a whole milk latte...

    • MickiS profile image
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      MickiS 5 years ago from San Francisco

      From my experience, it applies to all of them. That's based on two different trips including three different provinces.

    • Marina Lazarevic profile image

      Marina 5 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Interesting! So it looks like I would be ordering a Long Black with Milk on the side, or perhaps just a Long Black. Does this rule apply to most Aussie coffee shops?