Because I have quite a few regular readers outside of Australia I will pretext this with an explanation of the item I am talking about here; a babycino (or babyccino) as it is known in Commonwealth countries (excluding New Zealand) is known as a steamer in North America or a fluffy in New Zealand. Here in Australia it is simply made of frothed milk like that which you use to make a cappuccino and sometimes topped with marshmallows, chocolate powder, flaked chocolate, or sprinkles. It contains no coffee or caffeine and it marketed to children. For my Australian readers, the North American style steamer has flavoured syrup added and is consumed by adults as well.
I love taking the kids to a café or coffee shop for some morning tea on a Saturday; just the three of us, or Sunday with with wife as well. For me it’s generally a medium skim cappuccino, no sugar (takeaway) or a mugaccino (that’s a cappuccino in a mug) if we’re “dining” in, or if we are having afternoon tea I might switch to a soy spiced chai latte. For my wife, she’s generally a soy spiced chai latte, but if we are out for breakfast she might have a soy cappuccino instead. And for the boys, like many kids in Australia who have Generation X or Y parents that are part of the “coffee scene,” they love to have babycinos… Make that soy babycinos.
I have written about our local shopping centre a few times before. Unlike many shopping centres that are closed in, our local one (as described on its website) “combines the traditional values and streetscape of a contemporary market town with the latest fashion, homewares, dining, community services and lifestyle choices.” Unlike many shopping centres, it is only one level with a few streets running through it to give the feeling that it really is a town centre, but with a 3000 space car park underground, it doesn’t have the parking troubles of a town centre.
The town centre is not only a place where we do our grocery and our retail shopping, it is where we go and see movies, where I take the boys on a Saturday to hang out and have a nice weekend treat, and where we go and see the annual Christmas street parade and after show starring Santa Claus and local dance troupes from around the area, plus a special guest or two like the Bananas in Pyjamas or Jimmy Giggle. But I do like to go there and have a coffee. Actually, for a decent coffee, I would visit a war-zone. I do love coffee.
We are lucky in the sense that there are some fantastic cafés, coffee shops and take away shops in the town centre that do make a great coffee. As far as chain store coffee houses we have The Coffee Club, Gloria Jean’s Coffees (there’s two of them in this town centre), The Coffee Emporium, Oliver Brown, Caffé Cherry Bean, Michel’s Patisserie and Theobroma Chocolate Lounge. In addition to the coffee houses/cafés there are a few chain store fast food or takeway outlets that do coffees including Nuts Galore, Mrs Field’s (they do some nice cookies as well), Donut King (of which there are two of these also), Muffin Break, and an independent coffee, patisserie and gelato outlet called Regali Dolci.
And to top it off, we also have a few restaurants that have licensed bars that are open for lunch and dinner and double as cafés providing coffees and teas as well as sweet treats earlier in the day. We really are spoilt for choice.
Now, as the title suggests, there is a great divide between the prices of babycinos at different locations. Recently I took the boys down to The Entertainment Quarter at Moore Park which is located three kilometres south-east of the city of Sydney at Moore Park. The babycinos there were $2.00 and as they have soy I was charged $2.50 for each. That is the most expensive that I have paid for these drinks, and it was this transaction that inspired this post. We are used to getting them for free (with the purchase of a coffee) at many of our favourite coffee houses and cafés. As we do always get them soy, I am happy to pay the token 50c extra that you are expected to pay for having soy and an alternative to any standard cow’s milk.
Before our eldest switched from regular milk to soy, we used to get them for free at a couple of our local cafés when we went for family walks on a Sunday morning. In at least one of the big chain coffee houses they are free when you purchase a coffee, and since our youngest has been old enough to enjoy them, even if it is just me or just my wife out with them, we get both boys’ drinks for free – well, plus the 50c for soy – even though we are only ordering one coffee or chai for the adult.
I am yet to see a babycino that is priced higher than the $2.00 (or $2.50 for the soy type) and whilst we pay between 50c and $1.50 normally for their soy based babycinos, I am starting to see so standard milk varieties that are starting at $1.50 before we “upgrade,” if you will.
Are you part of the coffee scene? Do you take your children to cafés and coffee houses and do they enjoy a babycino, steamer or fluffy? How much do you generally pay? For those who are outside Australia, if you pay for babycino, how much is it in comparison to the price of the smallest sized coffee that you buy from the same place?