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Coffee Culture in Australia

You’ll be hard-pressed to find an Aussie who doesn’t love their coffee. Having a daily morning brew (and sometimes even an afternoon pick-me-up!) or a lazy weekend sip is important to Australians. 

Between flat whites, piccolos and every drink in between, the culture that surrounds the consumption of coffee plays a big part in who Australians are as a society.

Here’s your guide to Australian coffee culture.

History of coffee in Australia

In the mid-1900s after World War II, Australia saw an influx of immigrants from Italy who brought with them coffee machines and espresso coffee. Coffee bars began to pop up all over Sydney and Melbourne, which attracted bohemians, teenagers and migrants around the 1960s. 

Gentrification of inner-city suburbs over time helped fuel coffee culture and from the early 1980s, and a new wave of cafes burst onto the scene. Fast forward to now and the whole country is obsessed with this liquid gold. 

What is your style of coffee?

Now to the fun part… Choosing your drink! Here is a list of some of the types of coffees you can order in Australia:

Hot drinks

  • Espresso – Also known as a short black, an espresso is a concentrated shot of coffee and is used as a base for other coffee drinks
  • Piccolo – A piccolo is a single shot of coffee topped with a touch of steamed milk. It’s a small, strong drink with more coffee than milk
  • CappuccinoA cappuccino – or ‘cap’ for short – features a shot of coffee with steamed and frothed milk topped with cocoa powder. You may have also heard the term ‘puppuccino’, which is a play on a cappuccino but specifically for dogs, or a ‘babycino’, which is simply foamed milk for your baby or toddler. You can also order a ‘mugachino’, which is a large cap
  • Latte – Like a cappuccino but with less foam, more steamed milk and no cocoa powder
  • Flat white – Sometimes nicknamed a ‘flatty’, the flat white was made famous in Australia and New Zealand. It’s very similar to a latte but comes with less foam
  • Long black – Basically a double shot espresso with added hot water, hence the ‘long’ in the name
  • Melbourne’s ‘magic’ coffee – If you love your coffee, you may have heard of this secret order that’s become famous in Melbourne. It’s a double shot of ristretto (a stronger type of espresso) combined with a three-quarter flat white

Cold drinks

You’ll often find you can get iced versions of some hot drinks. In Australia, these drinks are especially popular in the summertime.

  • Iced latte –  Baristas will love you for ordering the easy and tasty drink. An iced latter is simply milk mixed into espresso with ice in the glass. Yes! It’s that simple!
  • Iced coffee – Not to be mistaken for an iced latte! If you’d like to sweeten things up with ice cream, order an iced coffee.
  • Cold brew – Cool water is poured over coffee grounds and filtered through to your cup. Unlike an espresso where the water is pushed through with pressure, water runs through the coffee grounds because of gravity, meaning cold brew takes slightly longer to make

Almost all cafes in Australia will also cater to dietary requirements. They’ll generally have milk alternatives on the menu, including soy, almond, oat, and more.

What if I don’t like coffee?

Not into coffee? Don’t stress! Aussie cafes put a lot of love into all the drinks on their beverage list. If you don’t like coffee or simply feel like something else, most cafes and restaurants provide an extensive range of drinks including hot chocolate, matcha, tea, homemade smoothies, juices and milkshakes.

Pre-made bottled drinks may also be available depending on the venue, including soft drinks (think all the classics like Coke, Sprite or Pepsi), as well as kombucha, ginger beer or ready-made iced tea.

How to order a coffee in Australia

While it may be a little nerve-racking to order a coffee for the first time at your local cafe, it certainly doesn’t have to be! We’ve put together this simple guide with a quick informative video to help you order so you’ll be sipping pretty in no time. 

Melbourne: Australia’s coffee capital

Shh – don’t tell Sydney, but Melbourne is well regarded as Australia’s coffee capital by locals and the world. The coffee culture in Melbourne is strong: Melbournians take their coffee very seriously and it’s where the best baristas flock to work. 

If you’re living in Melbourne or planning a trip, make sure these five coffee spots are on your must-visit list.

How to learn more about coffee

Working in a cafe is the perfect job while you study, as it can provide plenty of flexibility and give you the opportunity to meet new people while making an income. 

If you’re interested in learning how to become a barista, you can check out courses from the Australian Barista School (Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane), Five Senses Coffee (Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide) or Coffee School (Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane). There are also plenty of other jobs at a cafe, including waitstaff and kitchen staff, that will give you opportunities to learn on the job.