Coffee… Lost in Translation


With the intense working hours, and the short timeframe of the project, coffee has become a precious commodity amongst the team – with multiple team coffee runs executed every day. These short trips have opened an interesting window into the unique coffee culture and terminology to be found here in Victoria. Yesterday morning was my turn to pick-up coffee for the team. As I entered our favorite local establishment and began sharing the team’s order with the cashier, I heard a shout from the back. “Hey – I know these guys. It’s the Texan. Don’t give him any sugar”.

Nitin, or “The Texan” as he has become to be known amongst the local baristas has been particularly helpful in uncovering some of the more unique elements of the local coffee culture. His grievous sin the previous day, had been to ask for sugar with his double flat white.

What is a double flat white you ask? To answer the question, first you must understand that all coffee here is essentially espresso. Drip coffee is just about as popular as sugar, so there is a special nomenclature that must be learned in order to properly order your basic cup of coffee. A flat white is coffee with unfrothed milk – a cross between regular coffee with cream and a café au lait. A double would, of course, be a double shot of espresso. If you just want a cup of coffee-flavored coffee, you need to order a “long black” – espresso diluted with additional hot water – the same drink that might be called an “Americano” in Europe.

I haven’t even begun to understand the terminology around the different types of espresso drinks. Having settled basic caffeine delivery, I’m happy to feign total confidence and order my long black like a native.


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