By Mary Buckheit
Like many other mornings, my first day in Sydney started with a cup of coffee. When our V Australia flight finally touched down some 13 hours away from LAX at 6 AM in Australia, I was freshly enlivened with excitement. It was Friday morning of Mardi Gras weekend. Knowing that the next time I would lay my confused internal body clock down to rest would be at least 20 hours away, coffee was of great significance. Thankfully, I was met at the airport by my gracious Aussie host, Bec, who decisively ordered me my first “skinny flat white.”
If you’re looking for your cup of filtered drip java, or some kind of Trenta Caramel Frappucino with whip, you’d be conspicuously American and sorely disappointed.
As I write this, I’ve been here four days and still haven’t seen a drip coffee. Espresso is the chosen elixir of life here and with my first “flat white” from a café in the airport through every subsequent cup thereafter, it was clear that the coffee culture in Australia is refined, understated, each ceramic cup purposefully prepared and enjoyed with honest intentions. [READ: Not inhaled through an elephantine green straw.]
Wandering the tree-lined streets each morning from Surry Hills to Paddington and Darlinghurst, skinny flat whites (espresso with skim milk and a very thin layer of foam) was the favorite of the locals, prepared in petite proportions (about 6 oz.). When you feel like changing it up, try the “long black” (most comparable to an Americano in the States but with less water and more punch), "short black" (espresso neat), or a “piccolo latte” (caffè macchiato).
The coffee shops and street cafes are abundant in Sydney and while people-watching provides the perfect backdrop to the morning caffeination routine in a foreign city, the soundtrack of Australian accents is like the foam kiss on top of fresh roasted espresso beans.