Melbourne’s Magic Coffee: What is it?

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The Magic is an underground coffee unique to Melbourne. It is said to bring together the perfect ratio of espresso to steamed milk.

In this article, I take a closer look at the Magic; a coffee drink predominantly found on a Melbourne cafe’s secret menu, to bring a little more understanding to where it started and how you can make one in the comfort of your own home.

What exactly is a Magic Coffee?

Served in a 5-oz tulip cup, a Magic is made using a double ristretto shot and textured milk, filled to just under the rim.

What is a double ristretto?

A double ristretto is the first half of an espresso, cut short before the second part of the espresso dilutes the rich oils.

Flavour-wise, a ristretto is less complex than espresso and can have a little less caffeine than a full double shot.

Its more concentrated flavour and smoother texture pair amazingly well with perfectly steamed milk.

How should the milk be textured?

The Magic works best with milk textured similar to a flat white.

You get less foam when you add less air at the beginning of the milk steaming process, creating a more delicate micro-foam texture, especially when compared to frothy, milky drinks like a latte or cappuccino, which traditionally have more foam.

The milk temperature should also be carefully considered, with a Magic intended to act as a quick-fix of strong, milky goodness.

Aiming for 50c will bring the milk to the perfect level of sweetness whilst also allowing you to drink it all straight away.

Why a 5oz cup?

While a flat white is served in a 6oz cup, the Magic in its 5oz cup uses less milk and is meant as a more concentrated coffee.

Depending on what cafe you are in, the barista may not fill the cup to the top, giving you an even more robust flavour that coffee lovers in Melbourne have gone crazy for.

How to Make a Magic Coffee

As intricate as the Magic may sound, there is no secret to making this fantastic coffee drink.

You don’t need to be a well-trained barista or visit your local cafe to experience the full flavour of a Magic coffee.

If you have an espresso machine, your favourite coffee beans and the milk of your choice, you are just moments away from making this delicious coffee drink at home.

Step 1

Stick to your regular espresso routine. Grind the coffee beans into the portafilter and tamp, placing the 5oz cup underneath.

Anywhere between 14-22 grams of coffee are used for a double shot of espresso, which should weigh around 40grams when extracted, and will take 25-30 seconds in total.

Once you have started extracting your espresso, stop the flow of water when the espresso’s weight hits 25-30 grams; This should take 18-22 seconds, depending on how your espresso shot is pouring.

Once your double ristretto is ready, put the cup to one side.

Step 2

Put your milk of choice into a milk pitcher, place the tip of the steam wand into the milk, just breaking the surface, then start the steam.

You only want to add air for a few seconds initially, then push the steam wand further into the jug, trapping the air added and keeping foam to a minimum.

We’re aiming for around 50c in temperature; If you’re not using a thermometer, hold your hand to the side of the milk jug and stop the steam wand as soon as you feel a little pinch; This is an indication that the milk has reached the right temperature.

Step 3

Pour the steamed milk into your double ristretto shot, stopping just under the brim if you want to taste the coffee more.

One of the nice things about the Magic is that latte art can look even better, thanks to the higher concentration of oils and smoothness of milk.

History of the Magic

Melbourne is home to some of the pickiest coffee drinkers in Australia, if not the world, and has been the source of a lot of innovation in the world of specialty coffee.

The Magic is said to have been created by the founder of one of the city’s most influential coffee roasters, Seven Seeds, giving customers the perfect balance of milk to coffee flavour.

Whilst working in Melbourne, my boss at the time (who had worked in some of the most iconic cafes in the city), told me that the invention of the Magic was also intended to shorten the ordering process for those regularly asking for a ‘strong, three-quarter latte’.

Magic vs Piccolo

The Magic and Piccolo are both small, milky coffees but they do differ in some finer details.

While a Magic uses a double ristretto, a Piccolo is made with a single shot of espresso (although traditionally also used a double ristretto).

A magic is served in a 5oz tulip cup and is filled to the brim with flat white-like steamed milk.

A Piccolo, on the other hand, is topped up to the brim of its 4oz (just over 100ml) demitasse glass with latte-like steamed milk.

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Magic Coffee vs Flat White

The flat white is probably the closest relative to the Magic found on a coffee menu in Melbourne.

The biggest differences between the two are that the flat white should have a full double shot of espresso (although in Australia they are usually only served with a single shot) and will have an extra ounce of milk mixed in.

RELATED: Flat White Vs Latte

Magic Coffee FAQ

Why is it called a Magic Coffee?

With roots firmly embedded in Melbourne’s rich coffee culture, it is said that one of the founders of Seven Seeds Roasters invented the drink, saying it hit the perfect ratio of coffee to steamed milk, hence ‘magic’.

Is a Magic Coffee Strong?

Depending on what beans you are using, it is intended to taste stronger than most other drinks of its size.
The double ristretto, whilst around the same volume as a single espresso, has a higher concentration of coffee to water, and using less milk gives the drink a stronger taste overall.