How to order coffee in Melbourne like a Melbournian

How to order coffee in Melbourne like a Melbournian

Melbourne coffee guide: Melbourne’s Cafe Menu’s explained

They say that the best coffee in the world is in Australia and the best city to find it in is Melbourne.

Having lived in Melbourne for a year, I can vouch that it is true: Melburnians have a bit of a love affair with coffee. In fact, the city boasts more cafes per capita then any other- and boy, is the coffee good.

However, to an outsider, Melbourne’s coffee menu’s might appear a little… cryptic? So, if you’re visiting the city and you’re planning on doing some cafe hopping, here’s how to order coffee in Melbourne.

Coffee Capital of the world

Melbourne love of a good coffee is infamous and Melbourne baristas are sought after by cafes around the world. Melbourne is, after all, the coffee capital of the world and the city that defied Starbucks, favouring independent cafes and brunch spots.

Supposedly there’s not a bad cup of coffee to be found in the city and so far I’d have to agree with that.

melbourne cafe brother baba budan

Decoding Melbourne Coffee Menus

Melbourne is the birthplace of the Flat White and responsible for the well-established latte art culture that we are all used to these days.  Therefore, I feel that I have to take what Melbourne’s coffee menus say as bible.

However, there’s a big of a difference between the typical Australian versions of coffees and those in other countries. I was confused about how to order coffee in Melbourne at first.

White or black?

The thing that I found most confusing in a lot of speciality cafes in Melbourne such as Seven Seeds and Industry Beans is that the coffee menu is simply written up as ‘white’ or ‘black’.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t order a latte, it’s just a pricing indication. Don’t worry, you can order your usual coffee from the barista.

What’s a regular coffee?

A regular coffee is usually a small size, coming in either a 6 or 8 oz cup. Generally, a regular coffee is made on a single or 1.5 espresso shot but this can vary from cafe to cafe.

Melbourne journal cafe
Journal Canteen

Here’s how to order coffee in Melbourne like a Melbournian

Flat White

Firstly, the Flat White is the traditional Australian coffee and a safe bet if you don’t know what to order. In Melbourne, a Flat White is a little like a latte. It really comes down to the thickness of the froth- a true Flat White should consist of espresso with hot steamed milk and virtually no foam.

A flat white comes in a cup rather than a glass.


Lattes in Australia have a lot less milk than in England. In fact, a regular latte in Melbourne is fairly small in size, with a thin layer of froth and it comes served in a tall glass.

Melbourne In 48 Hours: A 20-Something's Travel Guide

Melbourne Magic coffee 

Next on the list is the magic coffee, a Melbourne only invention. That’s right; it doesn’t really exist outside of Melbourne. Basically, a magic coffee is like a stronger double shot latte, topped up only 3/4 of the way with hot milk. The key difference is that a magic coffee is made on a double ristretto.

This involves stopping the shot of espresso half-way through its 25-second pour. This means that less water gets into the shot, and the coffee is less diluted.


Now on to the cappucino.  In Melbourne, they consist of one shot of coffee, foamy milk and chocolate powder, usually sprinkled on top of the espresso shot before the milk is added, for aesthetics.

How to order coffee in Melbourne like a Melbournian

Long Black

Americano lovers, this one is for you. Ask for an Americano in Australia and you’ll stick out like a sore thumb.

The main difference between the Long Black and an Americano is that the espresso is poured on top of the hot water, rather than first, as not to scorch the coffee, and it’s usually diluted with less water.

Sorry to disappoint those visiting from the states, but filter coffee isn’t really a thing here.

Short Black

That’s an espresso to us Europeans.

Short or Long Mac

This is simply a single or double Macchiato. To make it, a small amount of foamy milk is spooned on top of an espresso. This usually comes served in a glass cup.


Up next is the piccolo or Cortado, as it known in Europe. This coffee mainly comes down to the size of the glass. To make it, latte consistency milk is poured over an espresso served in a tiny glass. It’s just like a mini latte.

Iced Coffee

In Australia, an iced coffee usually comes served with ice cream.

Generally speaking, the espresso shot is poured in a glass with a scoop of ice cream and then topped with cold milk. If you want it without the calories then it’s usually best to specify that you’d like an ‘iced latte’ or an ‘iced long black’

Bullet Coffee

Bullet Coffee is something that I expected to see more of on the menu in Australia but it’s not actually that common. What makes a bullet coffee unique is that it is made with butter.

Sounds odd?

Well actually once melted, the butter turns the coffee the same colour as milk would. The fat from the butter keeps you fuller of longer and give you tons of energy, hence the ‘bullet’ part.

Melbourne Tulip coffee
Tulip Coffee

How to order coffee in Melbourne like a Melbournian

Matcha Latte

Matcha Lattes aren’t just popular in Melbourne’s Chinatown; you can usually order these green coloured drinks in most cafes. Green tea matcha powder is mixed to a paste and topped off with hot steamed milk. The matcha powder is high in antioxidants and has a smooth, strong taste.

Dairy free milk

If you can’t have cows milk then are plenty of milk-free alternatives in cafes here in Melbourne and the rest of Australia. The most common ones are Almond milk ( Milk Lab brand) and Soy Milk (Bon Soy or Soy Boy). Unlike in Europe, Oatly Oat milk hasn’t really got going in Australia yet.

Still confused about how to order coffee in Melbourne? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. 

Want to know the best cafes to get a coffee in Melbourne? Take a look at my top picks here.

Leave a Reply