What Is a Magic Coffee? Melbourne’s Delicious Ristretto Drink

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I’m on a constant quest for that next amazing coffee experience. You might imagine there are limited ways to mix coffee beans, milk, and water, but there’s always a delightful surprise waiting, like the creamy breve latte or the enchanting magic coffee that’s today’s highlight.

When I first read “What is a magic coffee?” I was as puzzled as you might be now.

Magic coffee, a delightful gift from Australia, is taking the coffee world by storm. It’s proof that Australians really understand their coffee and have a knack for coming up with cool names. Dive into this tasty treat and see what the buzz is all about!

Magic Coffee Confusion

While exploring the world of magic coffee, I stumbled upon a surprising fact: the name “magic coffee” actually refers to three totally different drinks! It turns out there’s a bit of a mix-up when you try to find out what magic coffee really is.

Welcome, coffee lovers! You’ve landed on the perfect spot if you’re on the hunt for Melbourne’s enchanting brews. But don’t confuse this with Food52’s magical coffee recipe—that unique blend of cold-brewed coffee, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Nor is it similar to the so-called magic weight-loss coffee, which, frankly, is more myth than magic.

What Is Magic Coffee?

An illustration of what is in a magic coffee, showing the ristretto and silky milk

Magic coffee blends a double ristretto (30 ml) with 130 ml of smooth, silky milk. Not sure what ristretto or silky milk mean? Hang tight—I’ll break it down for you in just a moment. 

Magic coffee packs more coffee and less milk than a latte, offering a bolder, sweeter taste compared to other espresso drinks.

Origin of Magic Coffee

Magic Coffee, a hidden gem from Melbourne, Australia, might be new to you unless you’ve been Down Under. Once a secret favorite among hipsters, this unique brew has now danced its way into the hearts of coffee lovers worldwide, becoming a trendy choice in recent years.

In Melbourne’s cozy coffee spots, “magic coffee” might not jump out at you from the menu. It’s like a hidden gem, mostly known through whispers. Yet, stroll into any Melbourne cafe, whisper your request for a “magic,” and watch as baristas nod knowingly. They’re in on the secret too!

What is Ristretto?

Ristretto is a concentrated espresso shot. It’s made with the same amount of coffee grounds but uses less water. Basically, you stop the water flow halfway to get this strong brew.

Pulling a shot of ristretto, which is just a short espresso

Ristretto and espresso aren’t just different in size. Ristretto tastes sweeter and less bitter, showing size really does change the flavor!

In Australia, swapping espresso for ristretto is a signature move. This rich, concentrated shot is a staple in many Aussie coffee drinks, setting them apart from New Zealand’s espresso creations. It’s a simple trick that defines Australian coffee culture.

What is Silky Milk?

Silky milk is gently steamed to create a smooth texture with a thin layer of tiny bubbles on top. It’s the key ingredient in a flat white, offering a creamier feel than the frothier milk found in lattes and cappuccinos. Perfect for those who love their coffee with a soft touch.

Silky milk, often called steamed milk, is a creamier version without the thick foam on top. This term paints a clearer picture than just “steamed milk,” which might be foamier. You can create this smooth delight with any top-notch frothing milk. Perfect for coffee lovers starting their journey!

Other Australian Coffee Drinks

Australia’s coffee scene is buzzing with unique twists on classic drinks! They love adding a dash of cocoa powder to their cappuccinos, giving it a special touch. Plus, they’ve even come up with some of their own signature coffee creations.


A piccolo latte, another common coffee style Australian has created
Image courtesy of explore-blog.griffith.edu.au

Diving into the world of coffee, let’s compare piccolo and magic coffee. It’s all about how much coffee and milk mix together and how the milk is frothed. A piccolo usually mixes a strong shot of ristretto with double the amount of creamy milk. But, not every café sticks to this exact mix.

Outside Australia, a piccolo latte might swap ristretto for espresso. This tweak turns it into a mini version of your classic latte.

The story behind the piccolo latte is a bit of a mystery, but it’s believed to have started in Sydney. The tale goes that baristas wanted a drink with less milk than a latte, so they could still check if their coffee tasted good with milk, without having to drink too much of it. It makes sense, right? Drinking lattes all day could mean a lot more milk than you’d usually enjoy.

Flat white… maybe

A flat white, an espresso drink that may or may not have originated in Australia
Image courtesy of explore-blog.griffith.edu.au

A flat white combines 1/3 espresso with 2/3 smooth milk, similar to a cappuccino but without the thick froth on top. The milk is steamed but not to the point of creating big bubbles. Sometimes, if there’s more milk, it resembles a creamy, foamless latte. It’s the perfect blend for those who love their coffee rich and velvety.

Australia and New Zealand both say they invented the flat white coffee, but I won’t pick sides. The earliest mention of a flat white was in a 1983 review of an Australian cafe. However, swapping espresso for the stronger ristretto shot, as they often do in New Zealand, adds a twist to the tale. 

It Comes From a Land Down Under

Discover the wonders of magic coffee, a delightful twist on classic latte drinks. By swapping a shot of espresso with ristretto, it reveals a hidden charm, showcasing the amazing flexibility of espresso machines compared to your usual drip coffee maker. Perfect for those eager to explore beyond the basics.

Coffee isn’t just a caffeine kick; it’s an ever-changing world of flavors! Every cup can be a new adventure. So, the next time you’re at a coffee shop, don’t stick to the usual. Try something different from the menu. Who knows? You might discover the latest big thing in the coffee universe.

Creating magical coffee at home is simpler than you think! All you need is a quality espresso machine and a method for crafting smooth, silky milk. While some affordable espresso machines come with a milk frother, not all are capable of making a rich ristretto. The most straightforward option? Opt for a high-end Nespresso OriginalLine Machine. These machines not only brew ristretto from convenient coffee pods but also include a built-in frother for that perfect milk texture.

what is a magic coffee

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