What is the number one complaint of any Australian tourist? “The coffee stinks, it’s just not the same as at home.” Overseas we encounter all manner of caffeinated monstrosities, but Tobias Shine has found the five best places to fulfil your homesick cravings for a decent cup.
Whether battling through a ‘large’ cup of milky banality with ten centimeters of froth in the US, or an unsatisfying, watery cup of dirt in Europe, nothing seems to stand up to the velvety smoothness and punch of your average Australian latte. Only in Japan and Korea will you find a regular stream of luscious liquid gold, where cafés stay open into the early morning.
But fret no more, we’ve traversed the ins and outs of some of the world’s largest cities to find a cup that will satisfy any homesick cravings. It mightn’t be surprising that most of these cafes are indeed run by Australian expats. Just take the Melbourne-obsessed names of three recently opened haunts in NYC, a city which has only just caught on to Australian café fever: Brunswick, Bluestone Lane, Little Collins. But fret no more, here’s our guide to getting your fix in a sea of lukewarm, milky blandness.
Birch Coffee, Manhattan, NYC
Although New York’s coffee scene is starting to pick up, it’s still largely a dire situation in the Big Apple. This café is a diamond in the rough, with plenty of space to sit behind your laptop in true New York style. But the best part is that they serve what is a true rarity in the states – the humble Aussie flat white. It’s smooth and extra punchy, you’ll finally get the buzz you so desire. I enquire into how they came across the antipodean specialty and I’m told that, lucky for us, one of the baristas picked it up on a trip down under and brought the secret home. It’s the best cup we’ve encountered in NYC, easily pipping more famous exports like Toby’s Estate.
Toby’s Estate, Brooklyn, NYC
This café will be amusing to some Australians – the hype surrounding this, you guessed it, Williamsburg spot and its exorbitant prices hardly reflect the true spirit of ingenuity typical of the cafes we know and love. Actually, it’s pretty average, with the coffee aligning itself closer to the American style – huge servings, extra milk, little impact. The food here is decent but expensive, prepare to shell out for that outrageous dish that is taking NYC by storm: avo toast. Shock, horror!
Milk Bar, Soho, London
This cute hole-in-the-wall does small pastries and delicious coffee right in the heart of London. We all know the culinary hell that is England, but trust a couple of Australian expats to serve up lush lattes and potent espresso. One of the first Aussie style cafes to open in the capital, it has a sister called Flat White a mere 5 minute walk away which is equally as good.
Bill’s, Harajuku, Tokyo
There’s no shortage of great local cafes in Tokyo and around Japan, and while you should really try them first, this makes the list purely for novelty. Sitting atop a huge skyscraper with amazing views that reach across the city, it’s a far cry from Bill’s humble beginnings in Darlinghurst. Put simply, Bill’s does Aussie breakfast classics and coffee just right – if it’s the perfect eggs benedict you’re craving then look no further. Beware though, you might have to line up for a seat and shell out big bucks for a simple breakfast as prices are well above average, even for Tokyo.
Paris is perhaps the worst coffee offender out of any city, so it’s lucky that Holybelly is there to steer you through the sea of muck. Antipodean touches should make expats comfortable: there’s a great flat white on the menu and they even serve Vegemite. The menu changes seasonally and ranges from sweet pastries to pancakes with bacon and eggs. Globetrotter writer Gina said this particular spot “saved my soul last year” – a better recommendation we cannot give.