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Source - "Coffee Break" by Russavia, CC-BY-2.0

Coffee Break” by Russavia, CC-BY-2.0

Now that you’ve all had your coffee break..

Coffee-blanca – Part 1 discussed the transformation of the Melbourne coffee scene, where lactose free (LF) milk, almond milk and coconut/rice milk are more commonly making an appearance in cafes, to the celebration of us lactards. But there is a downside to this sweet delicious trend as well.. especially the risk of cross-contamination for nut Allergians. Importantly, there are still not enough cafes serving LF options! C’mon.. we need our coffee fix!

But wait.. there’s more – Coffee-blanca – Part 2:

  1. The coffee mix-up

We’ve all experienced taking a sip of our coffee and discovering we been given the wrong order. Some coffee connoisseurs, like my dad, can tell just by looking at their coffee.

One of the big coffee mix-ups is failing to use soy milk in a coffee. It isn’t an infrequent occurrence for the soy part to be left out. And that’s even after paying up to 60 cents extra for it!

A hot choc at one of my fave cafes, take 2 after they forgot my soy!

This is clearly very risky for those with allergies. Nut Allergians may accidentally end up with an almond milk drink. Or, as is more likely to happen, a cow’s milk Allergian may end up with cow’s milk instead of soy milk.

I have a friend, lets call her T, who is allergic to cow’s milk. Not intolerant. Not mild allergy. More like.. lungs close up and she can’t breath allergy. She developed this later in life, and I find that in such cases, the Allergians tend to be far less neurotic than I (and perhaps most of us who were allergic from a young age). When we go on coffee dates, she orders her soy latte and I tell her to make sure the café knows she is allergic and not just intolerant. This is one of the problems with the trend of intolerances – cafes do not take allergies AS seriously, as they assume you will just get a sore stomach. Which, trust me, is not just a slight inconvenience. I think that when a person orders a soy, LF or almond variety of milk, baristas need to be extremely careful to ensure that the milk ordered is what the customer gets.

Side note: I thought I would mention an interesting experience whilst on the cow’s milk allergy topic. There is a café near my house where I occasionally order a soy hot chocolate. They make delicious hot chocolates. They sprinkle chocolate flakes on top of the froth and at the bottom of the hot chocolate. Doesn’t this defeat the purpose of ordering soy? This isn’t the only café at which I have seen this done. Surely a café should check whether they can use real chocolate where a person has ordered soy? The same goes for the chocolate powder/liquid used to make the hot chocolate – cafes should be cautious as to whether or not the product they use contains milk, and alert those customers who order soy if this is the case.

  1. The sugar spoon

I am really glad that I have a platform from which to write about this. This is one of my pet hates. I am sorry if I ruin future coffee experiences for you.

Coffee shops generally provide sugar in one of 4 ways:

  • sugar sachets. Fine.
  • sugar in a tub with a spoon. Fine.
  • sugar with a special sugar-pouring-friendly lid. Fine.
  • sugar in a tub with no spoon. Not fine.

It is this option (d) that really gets to me. Perhaps this is me being picky or overly neurotic. But firstly, I find it gross and secondly, it is worrying to me as an Allergian. Sure, 9 times out of 10, a person will take their spoon, put it in the sugar jar, put it in their coffee, and drink their coffee. But where a person decides they need more sugar, or where a person just doesn’t care at all, they will take their wet, possibly-slobbered on spoon and dunk it back into the sugar jar for more. NO!! NOT OK!! Risk levels increase, obvs, where almond milk is served.

I have personally stopped going to particular cafes that only offer this option (d). It is not that hard to provide a spoon.

End rant.

  1. Frequent sipper cards

Finally, this is another topic that I happy to vent about. I am more than happy to pay extra for soy milk or LF milk and I can understand the reasoning for it.


In June/July, I completed a 3-week internship in the CBD. In between Southern Cross station and my office, I stopped by each morning at the same café, Langleys, for my morning coffee. Each morning, I ordered a soy drink, and received a stamp on my frequent sipper card.

Come day 8, it was time for my free drink. Yay! I ordered the very same order as the previous 7 days and gave my frequent sipper card to redeem my free coffee. I was told that while my drink was free, I HAD TO PAY 50 CENTS FOR THE SOY. Say whaaaaat??

I hate it when cafes do things like this. Did they think I was ordering the soy milk to take advantage of the fact that it was free? People don’t just voluntarily order soy milk. I had earned my free soy. 50 cents was not going to have any effect on the success of their CBD cafe, or to me for that matter. But the impact on customer loyalty is huge.

Cafes should just not do this. End of story.

Until next time..

An Allergian Abroad