If you don’t know what you’re doing, navigating the coffee menu in an indie cafe can be as terrifying as the beep test in high school PE. As a barista, I think life is too short not to make the most of the coffee bean and all of its forms. If you’re an under-confident coffee-orderer who doesn’t really know a flat white from a latte, I’m here for you with this guide to cafe-style coffee!




Short black

A straight espresso shot, by itself – pure coffee. If you’re nursing a crush on your local tattooed barista then ordering this is a solid method for impressing them.

Long black

A shot of espresso with added hot water to make it “longer” (larger). 


A shot of espresso with even more hot water added – often mistakenly called a “large long black”. Since it contains so much hot water, it’s common to ask the barista to add some cold water to cool it down.


You can order a “short” or a “long” macchiato, depending on how large you want it. This drink is essentially a short/long black, but with foamy milk scooped on top to give it a creamier taste.

Flat white

A shot of espresso with steamed, but not foamy, milk – “flat” milk. If you don’t know your way around a coffee menu then the flat white is a safe bet, and it’s probably the most popular order for Kiwi coffee drinkers. It’s also an Oceania specialty, invented in New Zealand (although Australians sometimes claim it as their own…) and less common overseas.


A shot of espresso with steamed milk and a cap of foam. Lattes can be flavoured with shots of syrup, such as caramel or vanilla, if you ask your barista for it.


A shot of espresso with steamed milk and lots of foam – like a latte, but a step-up in terms of foam. Basically, the adult version of a fluffy (I wish it was still socially acceptable for me to order fluffies). In New Zealand, it’s generally served with either cinnamon or chocolate powder on top.

Piccolo latte

A baby flat white! Served in a tiny shot-sized cup, a piccolo is different to a short macchiato because it has an even ratio of espresso to milk, whereas a short macchiato is predominantly espresso. This drink is ideal if you need a quick coffee fix but don’t want to go for a hardcore espresso shot.


A shot of espresso with foamy steamed milk, mixed with a chocolate powder or syrup, and often topped with chocolate powder and marshmallows. The taste of coffee is less strong with the chocolate flavouring, so it’s a good stepping stone for beginners to the world of coffee.

Chai latte

Psych: the chai latte is actually a tea. It’s made by adding steamed milk to a chai tea syrup. Like other teas it contains caffeine, but not as much as a coffee has.




  • Large coffees are usually weaker than regular sized ones, unless your cafe has a policy of adding extra shots to them. They contain the same amount of espresso as standard drinks, but with more water or milk. This means the taste will be less strong, and you’ll be absorbing the caffeine slower because of the extra time taken to drink it.


  • In Wellington cafes, a standard coffee generally contains a double espresso shot – Wellingtonians love strong coffee.


  • Bringing a reusable cup will save you heaps of money from the discounts that most cafes offer, and will make your coffee so much more eco-conscious! Even if a cafe offers compostable takeaway cups, they will still be contributing greenhouse gases if they end up in the landfill instead of your compost heap.


  • If there’s a particular cafe you go to a lot, it’s worth checking out how sustainable their coffee is. Are the ingredients made using fair labour and environmentally-friendly practices? Are their decaf beans made with Swiss-water processing, rather than harsh chemicals? Every latte you buy is a vote for the kind of world you want to live in!