How To Order Coffee Like a Local in Australia

Jan 27, 2023 4:45:00 PM / by Rachel Shaw

Are you a coffee enthusiast wanting to blend in and order like a local? Rachel Shaw draws from her own barista experience and clues us in on the coffee culture in Australia. Check out her tips and recommendations on what to order!

When you first come to Australia, one of the first things you will hear is how seriously Australians take their coffee. I knew this before coming, and as I’ve been a barista for almost two years, I thought that I would be more than prepared to order a cup o’ joe at Australian coffee shops, but boy was I wrong.

Outside a coffee shop

This coffee shop is just across the street from my internship and also the first one I visited while in Australia!

Here’s a Coffee Rule to Follow

The first rule of getting coffee in Australia: do not go to Starbucks. Or McDonalds. Or any global chain that you are used to frequenting back in the States. I know, it can be easy to lean on that comfort and familiarity, but Starbucks will be there when you go home, Australian coffee will not. Besides, there are literally so many coffee shops to try, you are going to be glad you took the time to try them out. So, how do you order a coffee in Australia?

What to Know About Flavoring and Milk Options

One thing to know about coffee in Australia is that it’s not super common to put in flavoring, and as I’m used to working at a shop where you can get any combination of 40+ flavored syrups, that was an adjustment for me. If a coffee shop does happen to have any add-in flavors, it is usually only a few of the more standard flavors such as vanilla, caramel, and hazelnut. It’s also good to know that they don’t always have oat, soy, coconut, AND almond milk available, but so far they have always had at least one dairy-free option. Now that you have any idea of what to expect, let’s break down the specific types of drinks you can order.

Coffee shop menu

This is a standard coffee menu at a cafe near our CAPA center.

How to Order the Coffee You Want (and Should Try)

If you go to an Australian coffee shop and ask for a “black coffee” they will have no idea what you are talking about. Whether light, medium, or dark roast, the standard black drip coffee does not exist in Australia. The next closest thing is something called a long black (also known as an Americano in the States), which consists of two shots of espresso and hot water. Alternatively, you can order a short black, which is only one shot of espresso with hot water. The espresso in Australia tends to be a bit stronger than in America, so this drink can be a bit of an acquired taste, but also a good way to get a taste of the espresso here without taking a straight espresso shot.

Another very standard espresso drink in Australia is the flat white. You may be vaguely aware of this drink, as Starbucks introduced it to their US menu in 2015, although it has been around in Australia since the 1980s. A flat white consists of espresso, steamed milk, and a thin layer of foam. I personally like to add honey in mine, making it just sweet enough that the espresso isn’t too overbearing, and it’s a nice and light drink to start your day with. I would say this has become my go-to while in Australia, and I might continue to get it when I come back to the US.

Coffee in a takeaway cup

Pro tip: if you want your coffee in a to-go cup, ask for a “takeaway.”

Other Popular Drinks in Australia

The other two most popular drinks I’ve seen in Australia are also pretty popular and standard in America: a latte and a cappuccino. However, if you still aren’t too sure what you’re ordering, a latte is espresso with steamed milk and a medium amount of foam. If you aren’t a big fan of the ‘coffee’ taste, this is probably your best option as it tastes much milkier than a long black or a flat white. Similarly, a cappuccino is espresso with steamed milk and a lot of foam, and traditionally in Australia it is served with cocoa powder on top.

Desserts in a case at a coffee shop

You can’t forget dessert!

The last drink that might be slightly less common but I recommend you try if you get the opportunity is an affogato. An affogato is espresso with a scoop of ice cream, traditionally vanilla, and served in a cup. If you end up in Australia and like the taste of espresso you’ll definitely want to give this a try.

So that’s everything! I hope this list helped you to understand the Australian coffee menu and make it a little less overwhelming. If you’re lucky enough to end up here someday you’ll be ready to go and ready to get sippin’!

Thanks, Rachel!

Rachel Shaw

Rachel Shaw was an official CEA CAPA blogger for fall 2022, sharing
her story in frequent posts on our blog. A Communication Arts major at Hood College, she studied abroad in Sydney. All views expressed are her own and may or may not reflect the experiences of other students.


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Topics: Sydney, Australia, Food Abroad

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