Coffee and the paper: Sydney Morning Herald and a Flat White

Coffee and the Paper is a series of blogs where I take a break from my travels and explore local media and local brews.


Coffee and a flat white in Sydney, Australia (well, the airport).
Coffee and a flat white in Sydney, Australia (well, the airport).


I had a 10-hour layover in Sydney between Thailand and New Zealand, so naturally coffee and the paper was a great way to pass the time. Though if I’m being totally honest my layover was more like 34 hours.

Due to my idiotic lack of research before flying, it turns out I actually needed a transit visa for my layover in Sydney because I was going to be there for more than 8 hours. Emirates said no problem, they could get one for me… but it would cost an extra $60. Begrudgingly I said yes. They asked me to come back in about an hour (I was there a freakish 4 hours ahead of time—I’m a very anxious traveler). Then they told me to come back in an hour and a half. Then it was about two hours before my flight and they told me to come back in an hour…and then I realized this flight was taking off without me. Thankfully Emirates took responsibility because they were understaffed (which left no one to process my visa), so they got me on the same flight itinerary a day later and put me up in an executive suite at a posh hotel with three free all-you-can-eat meals. This is one of the few instances in my life where not planning ahead actually may have paid off.

The result of my poor planning (aka the hotel Emirates put me up in for the night). Poor me.
The result of my poor planning (aka the hotel Emirates put me up in for the night). Poor me.

Anyway, here I am in Sydney, where I have officially spent more on lunch, the paper, and a snack than I did on all my lodging for a week in Sri Lanka. Welcome back to the western world. On the bright side, they have kangaroo hats in guest shops and I made friends with an Australian teacher who is interested in doing an exchange with The Modern Story!

Newspaper: Sydney Morning Herald

Established: 1831

Edition: Monday December 22, 2014

Price: $2.50 AUD

Newsroom: Sydney

Where I bought it: The Sydney airport

Sections: 7 (News, Comment, Business Day, Summer (I know, right?), Timelines, Weather, Sport)

Top Story: “Prime Minister reshuffles pack”: This is not an easy story to summarize, given my absolute lack of knowledge about the Australian political scene, but the gist of it is that Prime Minister Tony Abbot appointed Scott Morrison to a key position that will have a large role in determining economic decisions for the next year.

Other than that, a feature on mourners after the recent coffee shop shooting and the mother who killed 8 of her children took top billings.

Story (that I found interesting): With the Sydney shooting still fresh in the news cycle and in the hearts of many Australians, it was interesting to read a little feature on the huge outpouring of support for the victims. Though no country is perfect, it was impressive to read how little anti-Muslim sentiment there was afterwards, and if anything how people came together to make a point not to stereotype. There was a bike ride from a mosque to the site, a partnership between a bike group and a local religious group. The reporter quoted a note someone left quoting the Koran. America could really use a lesson in peace after tragedy from the Aussies.

Best Quote: “Forgive us if we don’t pop the champagne just yet,” dryly quipped columnist Jacquelin Maley, who wrote about the number of female ministers doubling—to two.

Overall thoughts: It would be a great paper—if I had any idea what was going on in Australia. Or saw more of the country besides the airport. Reporting was less contextual than other papers I found around the world, which made it tough to connect with the stories. That being said, I loved the “Summer” insert, which included a lengthy feature on shark attacks. Could there be anything more Australian?

Coffee: Flat white from airport coffee shop with a large communal table (that I cannot remember the name of). Everyone goes on and on about this down under specialty drink that has the same ingredients as a latte, but claims to be more “velvety.” While I remain in foreign lands away from my preferred black drip brew, why not give it a try? Adorably poured in a small teacup, it looked a lot like a cappuccino. Took a sip—savored it—waited for it—nope, just tasted like a latte to me. Perhaps my espresso palate is forever ruined by addiction to drip coffee, but I didn’t see much special about it. Any Aussies have a suggestion as to where I should try one the next time I go?



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