Be honest; do you know what your coffee order actually means? Are you the sort of person who has ordered a flat white every day for the past 10 years without actually understanding what a flat white is? Have you ever wondered why coffee costs as much as it does? Do you have questions that you’ve always been too embarrassed to ask your barista? This article is going to answer some of the frequently asked questions that I’ve received whilst behind the coffee machine at my Adelaide café. It’s also going to tackle some of the common myths that surround coffee and the coffee industry.

Flat White/ Latte/ Cappuccino… What the Difference?

One of the most frequently asked questions that we receive is “what is the difference between a flat white, a latte and a cappuccino?”. Well firstly, they all have the same amount coffee. No one drink is comparatively stronger or weaker in actual caffeine content. Secondly, they all have basically the same amount of milk! The only real difference between the three beverages is the amount of foam in each. Technically speaking (and this will vary depending on who you talk to) a cappuccino has about 2cm of foam, a latte has about 1cm of foam and a flat white has less than 1cm of foam.

Make it Strong!

Another one that I hear quite a bit is ‘I’d like my coffee nice and strong, so can you just run the shot for longer’. Your barista should never, ever run a shot for longer in order to make it stronger. To understand why this is never ok, we must first understand that when we extract a shot of espresso, we are in fact extracting the soluble ‘oils’ from the coffee. Only around 30% of the coffee we put in our group basket is actually soluble. When we extract a coffee shot, we only want to run our shot long enough to extract these oils; any longer and we’ll only damage our espresso. It’s the job of the roaster and the barista to work out the optimal ‘yield’ (the amount of liquid espresso to be extracted) from that particular coffee in order to achieve a nice, well balanced espresso. If we run the shot for longer than deemed ‘optimal’, we’ll end up with bitter, watery liquid diluting our otherwise beautiful espresso.

If you want a stronger coffee, my advice is to ask for an extra shot!

Coffee is Cheap as Chips to Make!

Nope. Just nope!

My favourite coffee myth of all? “Coffee is dirt cheap to make”…

There’s a reason why Adelaide Café owners generally aren’t driving around in Ferraris and lounging on private yachts. Coffee is not as cheap as you think and margins aren’t as great as you think!

Think about any product that you’ve bought lately. It might be a car, or a television or a packet of biscuits! If you pay very little, you can expect a relatively poor quality product. If you pay more, you can expect a better quality product. This is absolutely true in coffee. Your favourite Adelaide cafés don’t have a line out the door because they buy the cheapest, nastiest coffee they can find… They have a huge, loyal following because they value quality and are happy to shell out the extra dough for high end coffee.

The other thing that is rarely considered is labour. Next time you’re in your favourite Adelaide coffee shop, have a look at the number of staff on. Now, multiply that by the hourly award rate. Now add superannuation! Ok, sure, you’ve come in during a rush and the hard-working staff have just pumped out 10 coffees in a matter of minutes… but what about the quieter periods? What about the set-up and pack-up time that brings in no revenue. For many businesses, labour is their single biggest expense.

The truth is that most coffee shop owners opened their business not to become rich, but because they are passionate about coffee.

‘Annoying’ orders

The final myth I want to bust is around ‘annoying’ orders. Every so often I have a customer that orders their extra hot skim latte with half a stevia filled ¾ full, then apologises for their ‘annoying’ order! If this sounds like you, I want you to stop apologising! In fact I want to reassure you that there is nothing annoying about your order. As professional baristas we are adaptable, efficient and precise and if your barista moans about how complex your coffee order is then you probably need to change baristas! Have your coffee the way you want and don’t be ashamed of your decaf, caramel ice mocha with whipped cream!

Hopefully I’ve answered some of your questions and provided some insight into the topic that we are so passionate about here at First Things First Coffee. Now it’s your opportunity to ask those questions that you’ve been too embarrassed to ask in real life! We like to think of ourselves as a café Adelaide can engage with, so don’t be shy; comment your questions below.

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