Mugshot: Is your barista sexist?

Everyday coffee sexism: Baristas expect that a flat white coffee order will be for a woman customer.
Everyday coffee sexism: Baristas expect that a flat white coffee order will be for a woman customer. 

Stop me if you've heard this one before … A man and a woman walk into a cafe  and order a caffe latte and a short black. The waitperson brings the coffees,  and puts the caffe latte down in front of the woman, and the short black down in front of the man, no questions asked.

Another (mixed-gender) duo, different cafe, different order: a long black and a flat white. Guess who gets the flat white? Yep, she does … even though she's the long black drinker.

"Bosoms," is the one-word analysis from a male coffee-industry professional who must remain nameless. ("Makes milk … likes milk…" is how a woman colleague parses this. To which we can only add: "Black coffee … strong… man!")

"Yes! I'm a long black drinker and always get the latte dumped in front of me when I'm having coffee with a milk-drinking bloke," says The Age reporter Rania Spooner from St Kilda in an animated online discussion, while Jenny Sinclair from North Fitzroy notes it's a bit like the beef/chicken thing: a woman might order the steak, but it will usually end up in front of the man (along with the bill).

A straw poll of baristas around town found various perceptions: women tend to order "fancy" coffee such as hazelnut lattes, while men were more likely to go over the top with sugar; men love lattes, but more women drink soy; more men order skinny when it's available; men drink more black coffee (bingo); it used to be girls skinny/soy, boys full cream; guys are more into filter coffee (double bingo); and guys ask more questions …

Not very scientific, and rather inconclusive.

Meanwhile, a 2008 US Department of Agriculture study found that while 51 per cent of both men and women over the age of 20 drank coffee, the men averaged 1.6 cups a day to the women's 1.3. A study at the University of Barcelona in 2008 found that caffeine has a greater effect on men than women – so we really should drink less, not more, fellas – and a 2010 field study by academics from Middlebury College in the US found that female customers in coffee shops in the Boston area waited 20 seconds longer on average than male customers for their orders. The study found the difference in wait time was in inverse proportion to the number of female employees and directly related to how busy the coffee shop was. A bit more #everydaycoffeesexism it seems.