Small Coffee Sold as Regular Coffee

I went to a cafe and ordered a regular latte. I was given a small latte (clearly smaller than a typical regular latte). A few days later, I went to another cafe and the same thing happened. Today, it happened again (and this time, the coffee was horrendous). The price is the same as a regular latte - around $4. It seems to be a trend in Surry Hills/Redfern in Sydney. It wouldn't be so bad if they had the cups prominently displayed or if they told you about it before buying, but they are just pretending small lattes are regular lattes. That's deception. I complained to two of them, and they gaslit me, saying it's regular. It was surreal, like the Dead Parrot Monty Python sketch. Then they gave me a large latte - so the choice is between too big and too small. Great start to the day.

Sure, I can just avoid those cafes in future, but I have some concerns: Will this trend continue spreading (I found a fourth cafe yesterday)? Will it take over Sydney and the world (and the universe), thereby ruining the standard coffee experience forever? Has this trend already spread, which would mean that we must remember to inspect the cup size at every new cafe forevermore? Will this trend move to the pub - middys sold as schooners?

Poll Options

  • 21
    Yes, I have experienced this elsewhere in Sydney
  • 22
    Yes, I have experienced this elsewhere in Australia
  • 1
    Yes, I have experienced this elsewhere in the world
  • 2
    Yes, I think it is spreading
  • 46
    No, I have not experienced this


  • +8

    A Piccolo isn't a small latte.
    220ml is a standard latte size. Use that as your benchmark.

    • Okay, I fixed the original post. I was given a coffee that was clearly smaller than regular.

      • +2

        clearly smaller than regular.

        How would you know what size they regularly sell. Have you asked them?

  • +1

    I can't say I've experienced what you've described.

    I haven't been to the Surry Hills/Redfern area for a while, but everywhere else I've been, they've always had three sizes for "coffee" - small , regular and large.
    Usually when I ask for a "latte", they would ask "small, medium or large?" and I would say "small".

    Items such as piccolo lattes, I have to specifically ask for.

    But then again, Surry Hills/Redfern is one of those "hip areas" so I would expect things to be a little more expensive and it wouldn't surprise me if they were trying to start a new trend.

  • +1

    I haven't been buying coffee out in Sydney since lockdown began but before that I was a avid cafe coffee purchaser. I've never received a piccolo when ordering a small or regular size coffee.

    Are you sure that you're not confused about what a piccolo is?

    • Okay, I fixed the original post. I was given a coffee that was clearly smaller than regular.

      • That doesn't worry me. I usually want a small so it's stronger and I don't have to drink as much milk.

        • What do you have against milk?

  • +18

    I'm in Melbourne and a lot of premium cafes (using quality beans) usually have 2 sizes - regular and large. These in reality would be equivalent to small and regular at something like a McDonalds McCafe.

    I usually make coffee at home using a grinder and espresso machine. I've noticed personally some fancy coffee beans are really subtle in taste and you need to use less milk (in a latte/capp) or water (long black/etc).

    So perhaps your local cafes are probably sizing based on espresso shots and how much milk that coffee bean needs.

  • +7

    Seems to be a trend at hipster cafes where regular seems to be 2 gulps and large is under 250ml

  • +11

    No wonder covid is spreading in suckhole Sydney, coffee is essential lol.

    • Either that or you might have stacks of angry/agitated people holed up at home.. haha

      • +1

        Coffee isn't going to calm them down :D

    • +3

      +1 to this. After picking up coffee in groups of 2+, they become chin protectors and chat.

      Sometimes taking up the whole sidewalk!

    • +2

      I actually purchased a Breville machine recently because i no longer wanna go to an over crowded cafe near my place. People are just using coffee breaks as excuse to mingle and socialise. I see people from two different cars (clearly not from the same household) chatting with their mask off while sipping a cuppa. Most people are doing the right thing but a whole heap of others are not.

      • Good idea, I have worked from home for near 30 years lol, unless out quoting, the only time I buy coffee is if away working. Have had a Breville BS920 for 4.5 years.

  • +4

    yup in South Melbourne. Hipster AF. Tiny AF standard flat white that you would take 3 sips to finish. But they charge it as a regular. Pathetic. As cute as the barista is, I don't go back.
    I don't mind if they offer small size, but they need to be upfront about it.

  • +11

    I don't care what size the coffee is, the only question should be "does it taste good?". I don't want a larger coffee watered down with a pile of milk, because that's the sole difference, an extra 50ml of milk or so. Leave the size over quality to the Americans.

    Having lived in Canada, I much prefer Australian sizes. A "small" starbucks coffee is 360ml over there.

    Also, that's not really gaslighting if that's their regular size. As mentioned, a regular latte is 220ml, which is usually a small at most cafes.

  • +2

    Sounds like you got a 6oz (177ml) latte rather than the more common 8oz (227ml).

    I have found in Sydney the more upmarket cafes are using 6oz as their standard "Regular" size. The smaller size changes the coffees flavour as its much stronger than when poured into a 8oz cup as it has more milk.

    • Yup this. It's just the amount of milk, you're still getting the same coffee.
      It's more or less the same as ordering a 3/4 latte when they serve in an 8oz cup.
      Personally, I don't mind less milk.
      Travelling in the US, I had to be very specific to get the smallest of small cups they had - usually 8oz. They always had them, just usually behind the counter.

  • +3

    This happens everywhere and not just coffee. Most places don't have a small size, at least in name. It sounds like you're getting more if they call it a regular or a large etc. I've seen places where they're smallest size was called large and then it was extra large and super large instead of small, medium and large.

  • Whilst there is some commonality in packaging / cup sizes, there is no 'industry standard' (unless you go to a chain like Starbucks etc., but why would you).
    The use of "small", "regular", "large", "normal", in the post is irrelevant.

    Pubs are different; there are standard measures that are policed (but they do differ between states).

    • I have been getting two regular lattes per day for 30 years and they are all the same except for the last few weeks.

      • What size is your 'regular'?

      • +3

        Wow, something in the order of $57,000 just for coffee. Maybe a bit less as it probably wasn't $4 30 years ago. Calculated on 241 working days a year with 4 weeks leave.

        Now I know why I don't buy take away coffee - other than the fact that I hate the smell and taste of it. But I don't buy tea either. A tea bag and hot water in a cup for $4 is a hanging offence in my book.

        My work colleagues often used to ask me how I could afford to travel overseas so often. Simple I said, I don't drink coffee and rarely buy lunch. The point was lost on them. They just didn't get it.

        Edited as I calculated on one cup not two!

        • To be more balanced, that is based on expenditure over 30 years. Everything looks bad when you look at it over an extended period.
          But, ~$2k./year on coffee is what it is.

          There are cheaper ways to drink coffee.

  • +2


    Actually just companies padding their bottom line.

    Inflation isn't even that bad. Bad inflation is when you can't get bread (USSR, Venezuela etc)

  • +2

    I have absolutely experienced this in the inner west and north shore of Sydney.

    They were selling "regular" using a 6oz (170ml) cup using this Eco Friendly cup.

    Typically a "regular" is an 8oz (225ml) cup and a "Large" the 12oz (340ml) cup.

  • Its Sydney… what do you expect?

  • +4

    Another 1st world problem

    • -2

      Degradation of 1st world standards can lead to the 1st world becoming like the 3rd world.

    • -1

      Where do you live again?

  • +4

    Why dont you ask to see the sizes before ordering ? I dont understand why you would order anything blind.

    • Ordering a regular latte twice per day for 30 years. Why would I check? Why wouldn't they show their unusual sizes instead?

      • +1

        There is no coffee sizing rules or regulations. It is up to you to know what you are paying for before you pay for it. If they leave the sizing ambiguous then they can technically serve you any size they want and you cant complain.

  • +1

    As long as the shots are the same then it's not that big a deal, since milk is much cheaper than the beans.

    That said it really depends on the cafe though. Some has small/reg/large.

  • Judging by the poll so far, it's mainly a Sydney thing. Maybe they are doing it because rents or costs are higher here. Or maybe some coffee company has a talented salesperson encouraging the change. Or maybe the cafes are owned by the same person in the Surry Hills area. And yes, Surry Hills is fairly trendy, so that's a factor.

    • Or maybe there's been a worldwide event that has dramatically reduced foot traffic?

  • +3

    Experienced this a while back in Haymarket area, ordered a medium actually but it was tiny, I'd go to say it was probably smaller then a small to be honest. The place must assume that the picollo is the small if the coffee I got was supposed to be "medium". Weirdly enough there's a better place at the end of the same street and the medium is almost too big (though preferred to too small) and better coffee.

    IMO if I ever go to a new place I will always ask for what the size of the cup is before I order as have been stung too many times tying to get the amount of coffee I'd need for the morning. Usually the cups are on top or next to the machine so its easy for them to show.

  • easy way to gauge volume, take a normal (for you) 8oz cup with you, either get the smaller cup tip in big cup compare volume then complain, or give them cup say fill please?

    Mind you if you're in Sydney during pandemic and lockdown and your major problem and concerns are coffee then hats of to you. Wishing you a safe time

    • -2

      The issue isn't just about the coffee. It's about the deception, reduction of standards, etc.

  • +1

    A number of the more trendy cafes are now serving 6oz as their "regular". According to the aficionados of this sort of thing, apparently this creates the right mix between coffee and milk.

    A traditional regular is 8oz. This is what you are expecting.

    It's painful, but I've found if you order an 8oz then the problem is solved.

  • Bring your own keep cup then that will be the size you want. Perhaps they are not accepting these at the moment because of covid, but if you are working from home, then get yourself a coffee machine??

    Take away coffee cups is wasteful & terrible for the environment.

    • get yourself a coffee machine
      Take away coffee cups is wasteful & terrible for the environment.

      Everybody buying their own coffee machine is even more wasteful & terrible for the environment.

      • Single use vs multiple use….

        • Do the maths…

          • +1

            @jv: Any bargains?

            • @Gimli: All servos $1 coffee, have a double shot instead of a large

      • Big statement from JV! How the heck did you work that out?

  • -2

    Are people still surprised that the dollar this year (2021) isn't buying as much as last year?

    Things will keep getting smaller with inflation at ATH, zero wage growth and zero interest on savings.

    • Things will keep getting smaller with inflation at ATH, zero wage growth and zero interest on savings.

      and then they become negative :P

  • I once ordered a large latte. They gave me a regular. I took it back and the told them, the barista said 'sorry' and poured it into a large cup! Some places just suck.

  • I ordered large got regular, they wanted to make me a large one, I said no and just drank the regular one. Life went on.

  • +1

    I’m in Sydney and find the exact opposite a problem. So many places if I order a regular coffee they are quite large, at most places I will tend to order a small. I’m located in North West Sydney though so might be different to inner city.

  • +2

    Ive experienced this. The most annoying thing is not the tiny coffee, it's that you didn't know it would be so tiny before you ordered and if you had known you would have ordered the large (or gone elsewhere).

  • How did the smaller coffee taste compared to prior regular coffees?

  • +1

    Haha, as a Tasmanian $4 for a coffee of any size sounds like a great deal.

  • If the coffee you receive is their "Regular" coffee then you have not been cheated? some coffee shops have small, medium, large and extra large…. others just have regular and large.

    I have a large house (IMHO), to someone else, they have a large house and mine is a small house…… it is a matter of perception, next time ask for large and you can be concerned that a large is just a regular coffee?

    If you find issue with the sizing then ask next time what the cup sizes look like and you can make a fully informed decision, or go to 7Eleven and have one of their "Magical" $1 or $2 large coffees.

  • +3

    There is an episode of Frasier that covers this so well. Elvis Costello guest stars in it. Worth a look

    • Oh that was good, how did I ever miss it!?!

  • Oh no, so I guess this set the precedent for the remainder of your day.

  • +1

    You are living on the edge. I trust 4 cafes around Sydney that I will buy coffee from. No disappointment on that first sip.

  • +2

    You're not crazy op. I've seen a few places to this.

    Top of my mind is the cafe in North Strathfield near the wotso. I think it's called table 8. Their regular is definitely smaller than a standard regular.

    It's called shrinkflation. Not just your candy bar getting smaller but your coffee too!

    Pretty soon a large will be a regular

    • Pitizzas been suffering sizeflation ever since we stole the recipe from the Italian’s and it got worse after the we sold the stores to the Vietnamese’s, but it become intolerable when the Chinese took over! My dominos menu and walk in voice over has all but completed the whole Mo experiences

  • If they only serve 2 sizes, it doesn't matter what they call them as long as the smaller one is a single shot and the larger one is a double shot.

    For a single shot, it's just more or less milk that makes it appear as "regular" or "small".

    Similarly, for a double shot, they may call it "regular" or "large" with more milk.

    If a cafe serves 3 size cups, then the largest one should be a triple shot.

    Sometimes they may use a smaller cup in order not to dilute the drink/taste. But then I guess one can argue they should dose more.

  • Try ordering a 3/4 large coffee. should be the right size for you but you pay for the large size option

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