Long Blacks and Dinky Cups: Coffee in Oz

All right. It’s time. We need to discuss coffee. It’s important to note before I go any further that I love this country. The landscape, the light, the relaxed atmosphere that would make even a crazy mother-in-law, awaiting to become a grandmother if only her daughter-in-law would stop working so darn much and just get it together calm down (I don’t know if this sentence is grammatically correct and I don’t care because I’m in Australia and I’m calm).

All of these things drew me to my new 12-month home immediately upon arrival. In fact, I had never grown attached to a place so quickly. But—and here’s where I don’t want to offend this beloved country—no one knows squat about Australia. For example, who’s the president? Exactly. No need to think too hard; you don’t know. I only know the president’s name because I’ve looked it up 27 times and even then I didn’t remember so a friend of mine told me his nickname, “ScoMo”, and then I forgot the nickname, had to Google it, and then it got locked to memory. Good thing he got re-elected; I cannot go through this process again (typing that was actually painful. I’m not a ScoMo fan. Learning a new name would have been preferable). It’s an incredibly simple name, and as someone who is freakishly good at recalling names, I can only conclude that his name, Scott Morrison, is unmemorable only because he’s Australian.

All of this is a very roundabout way of saying that no one outside of this continent knows Australia’s aptitude for brewing a mean cup of joe. As for me, I had read Bill Bryson’s In a Sunburned Country a couple months before departure, and it was the source of any and all knowledge I’d obtained before landing here, despite the work being slightly outdated at 20 years old. This was the only way I’d found out about Oz’s hidden talent (unfortunately, not intentionally hidden) ahead of time. 


Let’s break down some of the lingo. We’ve got the typical beverages: espresso, mocha, cappuccino, macchiato, and the like. But then there’s the Aussie twist on things, namely: flat white and long black (giggle away!). A flat white is an espresso shot in steamed milk. A long black is an espresso shot with water added to it (similar to an Americano). Both are divine, although I lean towards the latter.

Most places have coffee that will blow your socks off. I’ve mentioned it in another post. The sizing, on the other hand, is a different issue. A couple weeks ago, I ordered a regular long black, as I always do, and was served a massive cup. In fact, the walls needed to be repaired after I was finished a-bouncing off of them. But just now, I ordered a regular from a different place and was served a dinky cup not dissimilar to an espresso shot. How am I supposed to sip slowly while I write if it’s going to be over in 3 sips? It disappointed me so much, I decided to write a whole blog post about coffee just to include this little detail.

Despite my current state of affairs, each cup of coffee I’ve had (with one other exception) has elicited a sense of awe, sending my tastebuds into a tango. After 12 months of this, I can only picture returning to the States, where I will immediately buy a coffee, take a sip, and sit in disheartened silence, with a single tear running down my cheek, wondering just where we as a nation went wrong.


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