During a short trip down south last week we pulled into the Cape Lavender Tea House for a cup of coffee. The wife and I had stopped in here once before about four or five months ago, but the couple we were travelling with hadn't experienced it.
As we sat waiting to have our order taken I started to muse aloud about something that has been bothering me for years. These days there are coffee names for just about every possible combination and measure of coffee (the expresso shot), water, milk, ice cream, cream, crema; and cup combination—yep, even the shape and size of the cup matters in the naming of coffees, but almost no coffee shop bothers with this bit too much.
From a little research on the Web there are about 50 mixes or types of coffee that you could ask for at a café. However an article on the Huffington Post suggests that there are only 30 or so common coffee types (see chart image). But in all these different orders of coffee there is nothing for an original Australian coffee.
"What is an original Australian coffee?" you might ask.
Well to me it is a teaspoon of instant coffee, add near-boiling water to almost fill the container, then put in a dash of milk; although there are some who don't have milk. There are also some—like me—that put the milk in first with the instant coffee and then add the near-boiling water. In my opinion this results in a less bitter tasting outcome.
But yes! You read that right; instant coffee—from a jar or tin.
This is how about 95 percent of Australian's made coffee up until we started to discover drip-filter percolated coffee using ground coffee beans sometime around the early 1960s.
So now, with substituting the teaspoon of instant coffee with a measure of espresso, how do you order an original Australian coffee in a modern coffee cafe? You can't.
You can get close to it with a long black, which is technically one third espresso to two thirds of hot water; and made properly the hot water goes in before the espresso so the bulk of the crema remains on top (but again, very few coffee cafes worry about this technicality).
But where's the dash of milk? If you want milk you have to either specifically ask for it or ask for a wee jug of milk to be provided with the coffee so you can add it yourself.
Or you could order an Americano, which is one third of espresso to two thirds of hot water; but this time the espresso shot goes in first and then the hot water is added—which is really how all long blacks in Australia are probably made. But there is still no milk!
You could just give up and order a flat white (which is what I generally do), but then you get a milk overload because a flat white is one third espresso with two thirds hot milk—no water.
After discussing all this with the waitress at the Cape Lavender Tea House she decided, on the spot, to invent a new coffee style called a 'barry'. A barry is a third of espresso topped up with two thirds of hot water and then a wee splash of cold milk is added to finish.
So at our table we ordered a barry, two flat whites, and an iced coffee.