Whipped cream? Yeah, nah. Picture: Flickr / rarye
Whipped cream? Yeah, nah. Picture: Flickr / rarye

Barista’s shocking response to desperate Aussie

IT took a bucket filled with whipped cream posing as a "coffee" in California to make me accept that travelling with a crippling flat white addiction can be both spirit-crushing and oh so very cruel.

"What on Earth is this?" I asked my humble "barista" as I turned the marshmallow-y concoction upside down only to find nothing moved.

"Well, it's flat and it's white … so it's the coffee you requested," she responded without a hint of a smile.

If you too have a penchant for flat whites and travel, there's every chance you yourself have experienced something similar in a cafe across the globe.

Perhaps you've stumbled upon a chic coffee shop staffed by bearded hipsters promising a latte but delivering only the soul-destroying ping of the microwave as your cup of International Roast undergoes a quick refresher blast? Or anticipated soy, yet experienced the unexpected delights of long-life milk?

The day after my "flat white" experience, I stumbled upon the app that would change the way I travel forevermore. Beanhunter is a Melbourne-based start-up which allows serious coffee drinkers to review cafes and coffee all around the world from Melbourne to Mumbai, effectively putting an end to coffee experiences such as the one above.

Install it, enter your exact location and within moments you'll be racing to the most highly recommended cafe in the area like a character in a Liam Neeson movie running to an embassy seeking urgent consular assistance.

My first post-Beanhunter coffee was everything I could have hoped for and we've been travelling the globe together ever since.

Not a big fan of apps or distrustful of recommendations? You may wish to enter a period of serious self-examination, but in the meantime, you can avoid dishwater (or marshmallow-y) coffee experiences while travelling by:

• Sticking to serious coffee drinking nations such as Italy, Iceland, Ethiopia and Finland (fun fact: Finns are now the world's biggest consumers of coffee, according to the International Coffee Organisation). Just note that in some Nordic countries, a cup of coffee can cost about $10 a pop so a word with your bank manager may be required.

• Giving up on your usual brew and investing heavily in what the locals drink. In Vietnam, this means opting for Vietnamese coffee - slow-drip filter coffee served with condensed milk (an iced version is also popular and refreshing on a hot day), and in Turkey, a deathly strong Turkish coffee, which is finely ground, unfiltered coffee usually served with sugar, water and the odd fortune teller or two who'll swear black and blue you'll have two children and become ridiculously wealthy sooner rather than later.

• Switching to strong black tea during your travels and packing your own tea bags if you're picky about brands and flavour profiles. No judgment.

• Walking into any cafe of your choice and asking to see their coffee machine. Should it possess a one-push button system for cappuccinos, lattes etc, walk straight back out.

• Refusing to take a seat at any cafe that advertises "Expressos" and "Cup of Cinos".

• Going cold turkey and eating chunks of dark chocolate to help keep debilitating caffeine withdrawals at bay. At least you know you'll have that quality flat white waiting for you when you get back to what is truly The Lucky Country.

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