Home Explore A glance in the Aussie espresso culture

A glance in the Aussie espresso culture

The article is written by Paola Bianchi     Cover photo by Sacha Fernandez 

Coffee culture in Australia is a big deal and entirely different from other heavy-coffee-drinkers countries around the world like Brazil, USA or Finland. Not better or worse, but different.

Even though people buy lots of instant coffee (ugh!) from the supermarket, if we are looking for quality and real flavour, what Aussies care about a lot, we should check out the glorious cafe culture that has been arising in Australia since immigrants arrived from Italy and Greece with their coffee expertise.

espresso pic 1

Alpha on Flickr

ESPRESSO IS (STILL) THE KING

Espresso is the main (often the only) brew method used to drink coffee in every cafe. Espresso machines are kind of the heart of the coffee shop and require a knowledgeable barista to run it, or two or three baristas during peak hours! Yeah, you hear right.

One barista will be doing the shots of coffee, this means grinding and weighing the coffee with the aim to hit the perfect extraction by balancing grams of coffee grounds and ml of water and avoiding under-extracting the coffee (resulting in a sour flavour) or over-extracting it (getting a bitter flavour).

Another barista will be steaming and frothing the milk. The milk should be silky and shiny. Each type of milk has different tolerance to the heat, and therefore soy milk will burn faster than full cream milk for example.

Market lane coffee facebook page

Pic from Market Lane Coffee Facebook page 

ART LATTE BECAME MANDATORY

In super busy cafes there may be another barista just doing the milk pouring! This person would be the ‘art latte master’ of course. The forms made with milk is absolute no requisite for a flawless coffee, but it has become a required aesthetic in the Australian coffee culture. Hearts, tulips and rosettes. This is known as ‘free pouring’ and there even are competitions!

BARISTAS CAN AGREE ON THIS

Some will say that doing the shots is the most critical part of the job, and others will state that the milk is the most delicate part. But everyone will agree that there is one thing that makes the difference: coffee beans must be ground as close as possible to the moment of the brewing process. The aroma and flavour ­of the coffee starts to degrade as soon as hits the air.

Barista

Tristan Kenney on Flickr

STARS IN THE FLOOR

It is fair to say that (good) baristas are essential to the industry, some courses provide certifications, and any café’s regulars customers will want to establish a friendly relationship with the barista. After all, they are making their coffee hit every day!

Usually, they are called gun-baristas, because of their efficiency in the espresso machine. It’s normal that they will remember almost every face, name and coffee preference of the café’s regulars. Yeap! Good memory these Hospo workers!

Note that saying ‘expresso’ is a common mistake you do not want to make in front of your barista.

Single Origin coffee

Joanne Wan on Flickr

TRENDS ON BEANS

When the coffee is sourced from various producers and countries and then mixed to take the best of each bean is called ‘blend’ and it’s by far the most sold coffee and you will find it in 99% of the coffee shops. Each cafe will use one particular blend that will be distinctive to that specific shop, and what customers will come back for! (besides their friendly service)

Each brand or coffee company has a few blends and cafes that roast their own coffee will often have seasonal blends. Speciality coffee they say! This is what distinguish top-notch trendy cafes from others. These cafes will often have ‘single origin’ coffee which means that the coffee is sourced from one single producer or region in one country, and purists will swear that is the best quality you can find.

Purists will also argue that decaffeinated coffee should be erased from a menu and that alternative kinds of milk like soy, coconut and almond are not acceptable. In reality, most cafes offer them to adapt to what customers actually want, which is their ultimate goal, right?

coffee selection

Alpha on Flickr

BLACK OR WHITE

Do you drink coffee to wake up? Or you wake up to drink coffee? Either way, here are three steps to order your coffee like a genuinely mature, well-informed coffee drinker in Australia.

1. Know your espresso options: ‘black’ or ‘white’.

Black options:

– Espresso or also known as ‘ short black’ (just one shot of espresso)

– Short macchiato (one espresso and a drop of milk)

– Long black (hot water and double espresso on top, like an Americano but the water goes first to avoid breaking the crema)

– Long mac/ long macchiato (double espresso with a drop of milk, some places serve it with a little of hot water at the bottom)

Milk-based drinks are:

– Latte (more steamed milk than foam)

– Cappucino (lots of foam, little-steamed milk, chocolate on top)

– Flat white (no milk foam at all) – This type of milk coffee was actually invented in Australia!

– Mocachino (milk foam, espresso mixed with chocolate and more choc on top)

2. Know how much actual coffee to order:
By default, a regular size of coffee (8oz) has one shot of espresso, and a large size (12oz) will have two shots unless you ask your preference:

– Strong, for two shots in regular or 3 shots in large size.

– Weak, for half shot in regular or 1 shot in large.

3. Know how to express your desired coffee:
All the adjectives of your coffee should be said before the type of coffee itself.

For example, don’t say ‘please a latte with skinny milk, with 2 shots and 3/4 full’.

Better say ‘a strong, 3/4 full, skinny latte please’. Sounds nicer, right?

Oh! When doing takeaway, if you are having sugar in your coffee (yes, you are allowed) make sure you ask for it before the barista makes your coffee. Not wasting barista’s time can be much appreciated during peak hours!

Okay, are you ready to make your order? Pay and sip!

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