Monday, May 3, 2010

Short Black or Espresso?

Much has been said -- on this blog and elsewhere -- of espresso's identity crisis in Australia. Everyone knows what an espresso is, even if they spell it with an 'x', but for some reason we also have the crude, lowbrow expression "short black". They are synonymous, and both universally accepted, though it can lead to surprising complications. You need only try to order one of them to see how confusing it can get.

"Can I get an espresso?"
"You mean a short black?"

"I'm still waiting on a short black."
(to barista): "Is that espresso on the way?"

"Just a short mac thanks."
"A short black?"
"Oh. Mac."

"Just a short mac thanks."
"One espresso...that'll be $3.00."

"An espresso thanks."
"Long or short?"

"Sorry, did this table order two short blacks and an espresso?"

Well, if that's not enough, Nescafé seem to have confused the playing field even more. Take a look next time you're at the supermarket:

Check out the price per 100g. And I bet you thought Espresso would cost more than Short Black? Me too. The lowbrow Australianised term should be cheaper, right? That's just not how it works at Nescafé it seems.

Of course, this would all only be worth bringing up if I was also going to do a blind taste test.

(I'm just going to leave that one hanging...there's no way I'm spending $9 on 80 grams of Nescafé instant coffee...I probably wouldn't even spend $6 on 5000 grams of Nescafé instant coffee if you paid me $12 to do so)


  1. Check out Sight Glass in San Francisco (near 7th & Folsom) if you're ever there - it was just a Slayer and some burlap sacks a couple of months ago, but there were promising construction sounds coming from the warehouse behind. They're all over this one:

    "Hi, what can I get you?"
    "A double espresso, please."
    "So, you'd be from Melbourne, then"

  2. Really? That's a Melbourne thing too?

  3. Ooo I really want to go to San Francisco to wine and dine.

    so what IS the difference between the Nescafe Short Black and Espresso?

  4. Not sure yet. I hope someone is willing to do a taste test in the name of science. It won't be me though.

  5. i don't know the actual difference between Nescafe Short Black and their Espresso but I do know the instant coffee bits / grounds have a darker color in the Short Black. I have purchased many jars of the Short Black while visiting your awesome country and it is by far the best instant coffee I've ever had anywhere in the world.