Auck Ward

A Honeymove Blog

New Zealand Cafe Culture: What is a Fluffy? Fluffie?

Fluffy, a kids drink at a Kiwi cafe. Photo by Tina.

What is a fluffy? It’s a drink on the menus at many Kiwi coffee cafes, specifically for the kids. It’s steamed milk and froth. And I ordered one yesterday.

Previously, I never ordered a fluffy in New Zealand. But I had thought that whenever I ordered some steamed milk at a Starbucks, because coffee can make me edgy, I was ordering a fluffy. Tall steamer [fluffy], sugar-free hazelnut. I’m not basic.

I was wrong. About the fluffy, and about not being basic. (I’m so basic, I can’t even. I’m typing while wearing chambray, taking pictures of my coffee, and blogging. I’m embracing it, cause I’m 30.)

Anyway. I was sitting out some rain at a coffee cafe in Russell, up in the Bay of Islands. I already nursed a flat white and was reading backlogs of gossip magazines. I didn’t want another caffeine boost. And I felt bad for taking up a table, but there were tables for any patrons that came in.

I bought a fluffy, out of guilt for being a camper (someone who takes up a table without ordering anything), but also for something to dilute the caffeine angst fogging me. A fluffy was $1.50 NZD; I justified the cost as “it’s just milk.”

The girl at the counter didn’t give me any funny looks when I ordered it. The guy who delivered it (I’m assuming it was the owner) did, asking if this is what I ordered: A little espresso cup with froth, a smiley face in chocolate syrup and a chocolate fish (a marshmallow covered in chocolate) hiding behind the cup. What the hell did I just order?

The guy explained that this fluffy is mostly froth and a little bit of milk. (He also made fun of the fact that people think his smiley faces are often frowny faces.) I mentally re-explained to myself that a fluffy is what cafes provide to four year olds as a gateway drug toward loyal Kiwi cafe patronage for the next 80 years of that kid’s life. It’s the ultimate loyalty scheme, and dammit, I bet it works.

I told him I expected steamed milk in a flat white cup. Did I drink the fluffy? Damn straight. Took it like a champ. But I ate the chocolate fish first.

Ever order something while abroad? and it definitely was not what you ordered? Share your story below.

Related: The Starbucks Flat White in the U.S.: Some Questions and Thoughts


  1. Too funny and cute ;o)

  2. I shouldn’t laugh, but I did – this is adorable. I worked in cafes as a student and I never saw an adult order a fluffy. In Australia they’re called a babyccino which is even cuter.

  3. Just been having a google about what a ‘fluffy’ was – I’ve been trying to explain it to my friends and family who have been to visit in me in NZ.
    I love this story, it made me smile!

    A chocolate fish should be a side for any coffee :)

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