The art of making coffee

Many of us seek out the best places for a satisfying coffee.

The art of creating the perfect coffee depends on the right combination and consistency of the milk and the quality of the crema (the rich, thick, golden layer on top of an espresso) – an art perfected by the best baristas.

Froth and Bubble

Due to a number of factors, baristas can sometimes experience difficulties frothing milk. Milk is most difficult to froth during autumn and winter months. This may be caused by lipolysis (a breakdown of the milk fat by natural milk enzymes), or the cows may have reached the end of their lactation cycle. During these months, talk to suppliers about purchasing modified milks, which guarantee frothing all year round.

Here are a few frothing tips for the home barista:

  • Use a conical or straight-sided stainless steel jug.
  • Make sure the milk is cold.
  • Never fill the jug more than half-full to allow the milk to expand as it froths.
  • Place the steam wand just under the surface and then turn on steam. As the milk expands always keep the wand just below the milk’s surface.
  • Don’t jiggle the jug. If the wand is correctly positioned the milk should ideally swirl around the jug without you having to move it.
  • Be careful not to overheat or boil the milk as it affects the taste. If so, discard and start again.

Common Coffee Types

When you sit at any urban café and listen to the array of different coffee styles requested, it’s clear how far Australians have come in our knowledge and taste for coffee. Here’s a rundown of some of the most commonly served styles of coffee in Australia.


To a true Italian, this should be 35ml of coffee with a thick golden crema on the top.

Caffé Macchiato

Macchiato, meaning ‘marked’ or ‘stained’, comes in the long or short variety.

An espresso macchiato or short macchiato is literally an espresso coffee ‘stained’ with a small amount of milk and a tiny dollop of froth.

A long macchiato is similar but made using a long black coffee.


It’s Italy’s famed breakfast coffee, though an all-day Australian favourite.

A good cappuccino is a delicious combination of ⅓ espresso coffee, ⅓ steamed milk and ⅓ creamy, dense, meringue-like milk foam. A ring of crema should be evident around the edges of the foam.

Serve in a warm cup with a dusting of chocolate powder or nutmeg.


Can’t decide between a hot chocolate and coffee? Why not have both!

Mix two teaspoons of chocolate powder into a shot of espresso coffee, then add 1/3 steamed milk and 1/3 milk foam.

Caffé Latte

One shot of espresso topped with steamed milk and 10mm of foam. The foam should be creamy and thick, not frothy.

Served in a glass without a dusting of chocolate.