Symbolic Java

In sorting through the 980 (!) photos I took in Australia and New Zealand last month, I thought this particular image was worthy of posting here separately from all the others. The Kiwis I met at the conference in Sydney told me Wellington had some of the best coffee in the world. After noticing something in my last “flat white” at the Wellington Airport, I think I understand why that might be true…

Photo of a half-full flat white taken in the Wellington Airport in New Zealand.

Unfortunately, I had already taken several sips before I thought to pull out my camera and snap a photo. But you get the idea. If you’re curious about the blotchy patches toward the top-left, they’re from granules of sugar that didn’t get stirred down past the foam.


  1. Sembazuru

    *looks closely*


    Oh, yeah…

    Funny. I wonder what their tea is like.

  2. Joseph Lindsay

    Is that not normal? Don’t you have sugar overseas? Is our coffee that good?

  3. Hmm…..divining in the coffee foam.

    Next thing I know, The girl at the local coffeehouse is going to be putting love notes in the foam instead of just spelling out “SIP” in chocolate. Oh god. I can only hope…

    (yay apple)

  4. Jack

    Yet another reason to switch from tea to coffee. Take heed, you tea-drinkers, we’re coming to get you.

  5. Joseph Lindsay

    …oooohhh… d’oh…

    I drink Coke, but would drink coffee if I could afford it.

  6. Andrew

    I’m with Joseph (comment #2) on this one. I don’t understand what the deal is. I’m in Australia, but our flat whites come like that too. I also had the same experience in Italy – the home of coffee.

    I’m confused…

  7. Peter Usewicz

    Nah… I drink Powerade. The blue one. But coffe with cream is delicious aswell. Especiallu cappucino.

  8. Phil Sherry

    i heard that Microsoft coffee needs repouring every few sips, then turns blue when you leave the room.

  9. Michele

    Duh? What’s wrong with it?

    I’m with Joseph and Andrew. Do you americans really think coffee is the poor imitation you get up there? :)

    Joseph, are you serious? You can’t afford coffee?

  10. teartear

    If you squint a bit you’ll see the apple logo in the foam.

  11. Rimantas

    I guess all of my friends who tried it said “it is not a coffee” talking about American kind.

  12. Vlad

    OMG, that white blotchy patch looks just like a . . . Clound!

  13. Matt Wilson

    I guess us New Zealanders don’t know how spoilt we are. My friend the barista draws my initials into the coffee.

  14. “I guess us New Zealanders don’t know how spoilt we are. My friend the barista draws my initials into the coffee.”

    Well, I’m convinced. When’s the next flight out?

  15. Douglas Bowman

    The Kiwis are very creative in how they serve coffee. The baristas there take a lot of pride in what they do, and it’s actually quite respectable and cool (they tell me) to work in a cafe as one. They must spend a considerable portion of their barista training learning the artistry of creating patterns in the foam as they mix the coffee and milk. Or perhaps they just take pride in refining their talent over time.

    I remember getting coffee several times in New Zealand, and being quite impressed with the foam artistry each time. Here in the States, I’ve seen generic-looking hearts in the foam, but never to the detail of what I saw in NZ.

    Regardless, this wasn’t what it looked like when the coffee was given to me. If I remember correctly, the foam originally had some type of vine pattern in it with five or six leaves stemming out each side from the center, of which only the top leaf is now visible. What’s in the photo above is an accident. It’s just the result of stirring in some sugar and taking a few sips.

  16. beto

    For being mine a coffee-producing country and myself a regular drinker (system breakdowns have forced me to cut down to a cup a day), it’s amazing how I haven’t noticed how interesting could coffee patterns be. I have read some people specialize on making predictions and life forecasts by “reading” such coffee stains.

    And if that holds true for you Doug, I’d say you have quite an, um, fruitful future. :D

  17. tirin

    Tea, Oolong, hot….

  18. monkeyinabox

    I see ELVIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Damn

  19. Jason K.

    Wow. Apple’s reach of influence is incredible. It’s now conquered the great flat white.

  20. Peter Asquith

    Drink Different!

  21. Dann Ryan

    I stared at it for so long before I saw it… but atleast I saw it first before I scrolled down and made a clueless post :D

  22. Jason G

    But see, it’s really just “mood coffee”, in that you have MAC on the brain, so that’s what appeared in the foam. The same thing happened to me, except the “sad MAC” icon popped up when I looked. :(

  23. Dan Jallits

    Coffee hell!

    Just as long as I get my shamrock etched into my Guiness I am a happy camper. Have you ever tried that!

    P.S. Sitting in a mom and pop cafe taking careful notice of my coffee now.

  24. John

    Java and MAC’s – I know there is a connection there.

  25. Rick Yribe

    Your description of their coffee makes me want to fly right over there to get some for myself.

    /me salivates

  26. Rene Grassegger

    Hi Doug, hi everyone,

    in Austria they serve a big range of coffe, we have many variations how we drink and make our coffee. We have a long tradition of making the black gold and sitting arround in the coffeehouses.

    You should visit vienna or salzburg to get a really good coffee. :-)



  27. Matthew

    Thanks to Dan Ryan. Your post just saved me from making a stupid post, as your post indicated I should look at the pic again… Cheers :D

  28. I thought it was a bird head, but I see the apple now you mention it.

  29. Jan Brasna

    Only 980 (!) shots? My average production is about 2k/week – in EU. In AU, it would dramatically increase…

  30. Max

    Here’s another photo of some clever coffee art.

  31. Arthur

    With a bit of imagination, you can also see the Firefox logo mirrored in the cup. The cup would be the globe.. oh well.. you probably get the idea: Tail to the left, head to the right.

    Reminds me of Rorschach this. ;)

  32. Rob Mientjes

    Holy crap, a cock in your coffee!

    Arthur, it’s more of a Thunderbird.

  33. Mike

    The best coffee is at CAFE GRECO in Rome, Italy.

  34. Chris

    Our local guy draws the Sydney Opera House on the latte.

    The crema for the white sails, outlined in fine choc syrup, and dusts the bottom for the ocean.

    A little time consuming tho. And it’s just the local Michel’s.

  35. Mike

    ok, Doug – it’s not a “vine pattern” that Emporio (which is where you got the coffee) make in the foam! It’s a silver fern, which is sort of like the national emblem of New Zealand.

    You’re not allowed back in the country until you get this right :)

  36. Andy Marr

    I leave tomorrow for New Zealand, so I’m glad to have discovered your take on the Kiwi coffee culture and artistry. I will make sure and try a few iCoffees!!

  37. Bojhan

    We all hope to see thea!

  38. Dan

    I’m a kiwi myself, now currently living in Amsterdam where “Coffe shop” takes on a whole other meaning, but I sure do miss a good old cup of, designer, NZ coffee.
    Doug I don’t suppose you got your hands around a decent steak and cheese pie while you were over there did you?

    Damn I miss those pies!!!

  39. Paul

    I never knew a cup of coffee could get so much attention.
    Just shows that we are living in a coffee culture, even if sometimes your standard coffee is unbearable to drink!

  40. I saw the Apple logo, then I looked a little further and saw a Firefox!

  41. bunker

    Well comment 40 just proofed the theory that good things never come online. Now we allready have Mac and Firefox, I need to look more at my coffee-foam. Well like above said Drink different.

  42. Lyndseythespaz

    omg, it does look like the apple logo. *laughs*

  43. james

    You should have sold that one on ebay….

  44. natalie Curtis

    I am also a kiwi that loves her coffee, having been to many ‘coffee shops’ in Amsterdam. The coffee in the pic looks dam fine to me, and a lot creamer then the ‘coffee’ I got in Amsterdam.
    Apple is very obvious once it is pointed out, would not have seen otherwise….

  45. Kevin

    Did you finish drinking it?

  46. Andy Peatling

    Impressive, what are the chances eh!

  47. tongkis

    Strange looking thing, I really should have one of those, during my stay back in NZ.Darn..!!! :)

  48. Ian Lloyd

    You know, Doug, there must be something about the coffee down in that southern hemisphere. I had a spooky message in my coffee in Sydney just before going up the AMP Tower

    No photoshopping, I promise.

  49. John A

    Looks good enough to sell on ebay for thousands of dollars!

    (if you dont know what I am talking about … google virgin mary grilled cheese)

  50. Mathias Bynens

    Yeah, coffee cups can be cool slash scary sometimes.

  51. eDave

    I’ve recently moved to London from Australia and I’ve had to stop drinking coffee it’s that bad.. Australians and Kiwi’s, enjoy your coffee!!!

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