In Food + Drink

From Cortado To Magic: Melbourne Coffee Trends Explained

Most people are familiar with a latte, cappuccino, flat white and long black – particularly if you have spent any time in Australia’s coffee capital of Melbourne. Most know exactly what and how to order. Or do we?

In the evolving coffee scene that is Melbourne’s café culture, it can be confusing to keep up with the latest trends and terms for a cuppa. We tapped into the expertise of Porgie & Mr Jones barista Lawrence Sanstrom and Proud Mary’s Lemara Winterton for an explanation of what other coffees there are outside of a traditional cup – and where to go about finding them.

Ahead, a break-down of the must-known Melbourne coffee trends:


A cortado is an espresso, mixed with a roughly equal amount of warm milk. It’s similar to a latte, but with is less foamy and milky. It’s a smaller pour that usually comes in a smaller glass. It’s like a piccolo, but without the froth. Cortados originated in Europe, and according to Winterton, are the drinks the tourists tend to order.


Often called an espresso macchiato, a macchiato is an espresso shot is served in a glass with a small amount of milk added. The milk is usually foamed and spoon-dropped on top of the coffee by the barista. It has less water than a long black and you can order a is a ‘short’ (one shot) or ‘long’ (two shots).


A ristretto is made from the first 17 seconds of coffee poured – a concentrate that is a lot less-bitter than a full shot (30 seconds of pour). It can be ordered on its own, or as part of an order like a latte with a single or double ristretto.


Somewhere between a café latte, macchiato and cortado, a piccolo is a single espresso shot topped up with milk in a 90ml glass. Essentially, more coffee, less milk. A perfect chaser if you started your breakfast with a latte and need another quick kick to get moving.


A magic is a unique Melbourne coffee made with a double ristretto, filled ¾ of the way with ‘silky milk’ (think flat white style milk as opposed to cappuccino). Both the piccolo and the magic arguably originated in Melbourne, and most Melbourne baristas worth their weight in coffee beans will happily serve one up.

“Considered a hipster order for a long time, it’s quickly becoming a staple of the Melbourne coffee scene,” says Sanstrom.

Most all of the above can be found at any one of the city’s other established and respected coffee purveyors including Proud Mary’s, Porgie & Mr Jones, St Ali, Auction RoomsMarket LaneSensory LabTop PaddockHigher Ground and Hash SpecialtyTraveller, STN Northcote,  Dukes Coffee Roaster and Axil.

melbourne coffee

Image: John Forson / Unsplash

To try something a little bit different:

Bulletproof Coffee (or Butter Coffee)

This one is for the paleos. Originating in the US, this coffee is served with butter (or coconut oil) and claims to have health benefits including increased energy and focus. It’s found mostly in cafés specialising in health food including Fitzroy’s FitIn, Flinders Lane’s Seedling and Patch Café in Richmond.

Nitrogen Coffee

A nitrogen coffee is a cold pour coffee that comes out of a beer-pull tap. Using the same process breweries do for stouts and dark beers, carbon dioxide is infused with nitrogen creating a silkier head on the espresso pour. Enjoy one at Proud Mary’s in Collingwood where you can also watch the roasters at work in the on-site roastery.

Coconut Bomb

A coconut bomb is a hot espresso shot poured into a fresh coconut. The shot turns cold once it hits the coconut water. It’s drunk with a straw and is served with a spoon so you can eat the coconut flesh when you’re done. Enjoy one (or two) at Seratonin Eatery in Burnley.

Golden Latte

A golden latte is often used in Ayurvedic medicines for its anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting and antibacterial benefits. It’s made from juiced turmeric root, grated or fresh turmeric, spices including cinnamon, pepper, and nutmeg, sometimes with ginger, and served with almond, soy or coconut mylk. Found at many cafés including Pavlov’s Duck in Fitzroy or Touchwood in Collingwood.

Mushroom Latte

A mushroom latte is made from chaga mushrooms, vanilla essence, coconut milk and brown rice malt. While it might not sound all that appetising, it tastes surprisingly sweet.

While popular in West Hollywood right now, it originated in Melbourne’s Matcha Mylkbar, which also serves some other mad-sounding lattes including; a Smurf (made with live algae), Charcoal (with activated charcoal), Spiced Beetroot (it’s very pink), Almond Butter Cacoa, Purple Peanut Butter and even an Apple Pie Latte – which, according to Winterton, is “absolutely amazing and definitely worth going southside to try it”.

Can’t make it to any of these establishments? Don’t stress. Order what you will, where you like because, despite cafés coming and going in the-ever evolving café scene of the coffee capital – let’s face it, it’s harder to find a bad coffee in Melbourne than a good one.

(Lead images: GC Libraries Creative Tech Lab & Matcha Mylkbar/ Unsplash)

Published 13 May, 2019