Barista Marcus Wong serving takeway coffees at a Sydney cafe last month. Picture: David Swift
Barista Marcus Wong serving takeway coffees at a Sydney cafe last month. Picture: David Swift

Risk you’re taking with takeaway coffee

With a cappuccino culture that could rival Italy (big call, but we stand by it) there's nothing more Australian than going to your local cafe for your coffee of choice.

For many now working from home, strolling up to your local cafe for your morning flat white is probably one of the few daily outings we're still making.

But with the Government warning against leaving the house for anything other than essential work, shopping or exercise, just how risky is it to be ducking out for a daily takeaway coffee?

Well, caffeine addicts can breathe a sigh of relief because, according to infectious diseases expert Professor Peter Collignon from the Australian National University, the risk of catching coronavirus on your coffee run is "very low".

Many Australians are still ducking out to get their daily caffeine fix from cafes. Picture: Simon Bullard/AAP
Many Australians are still ducking out to get their daily caffeine fix from cafes. Picture: Simon Bullard/AAP

"If the virus was widespread on coffee cups and everything you touched, our epidemic curve (in Australia) would not be turning," he told news.com.au.

"The fact that our epidemic curve has turned to my mind means - I can't say you can't get it from a coffee cup - but the risk must be minuscule compared to the more obvious ones."

Infection prevention expert Associate Professor Philip Russo from Monash University also said the risk was low as long as social distancing rules were followed.

You shouldn't "hang around and chat to the other latte lovers" but instead just "get your coffee and leave".

"The cups will be single use so should be clean. So long as you follow good hand hygiene the risk is minimal," Associate Prof Russo told news.com.au.

RELATED: All the fines you can cop for ignoring virus rules

People seen sitting near a coffee shop at Rushcutters Bay park in Sydney. Picture: Joel Carrett/AAP
People seen sitting near a coffee shop at Rushcutters Bay park in Sydney. Picture: Joel Carrett/AAP

 

Social distancing in practice at the coffee shops in Cronulla Mall, Sydney. Picture: Simon Bullard/AAP
Social distancing in practice at the coffee shops in Cronulla Mall, Sydney. Picture: Simon Bullard/AAP

"Of course if you are chatting to somebody whilst waiting, you should be maintaining 1.5m distance from them and others."

The reason that you're unlikely to catch coronavirus is because Australia has so far had "very low community transmission", with the majority of cases directly linked to people returning from overseas.

"We can't say anything is absolutely safe, but relatively speaking what we are doing in Australia means most things are pretty safe," Prof Collignon said.

"And if you do the things we're suggesting - wash your hands before you touch your mouth or before you eat … then your risk must be minuscule."

Annie Karam, part owner of Speedos cafe at Bondi Beach, delivers coffee as part of a takeaway service. Picture Jenny Evans/Getty Images
Annie Karam, part owner of Speedos cafe at Bondi Beach, delivers coffee as part of a takeaway service. Picture Jenny Evans/Getty Images

 

There was also no need to decant your coffee from a takeaway cup into one you had at home, as has been advised in "high-risk" countries like the United States.

"If you're in an area of the US where there's uncontrolled transmission like New York maybe you can think about (doing that)," Prof Collignon said.

"But we're not in that situation in Australia, and I believe we're never going to get into that situation, because we haven't had widespread uncontrolled spread in the community for a month or two months before it was recognised."

Associate Prof Russo said that as long as your barista was washing or sanitising their hands frequently - and wasn't unwell - it was perfectly safe to drink from your takeaway cup.

"I don't see any obvious reason for this so long as the above is followed, other than it tastes better from a proper coffee mug," he said. "But I would suggest putting the lid on the disposable cup yourself."



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