The coffee debate we're usually used to seeing is one about beans - but a question on a HSC exam has sparked a "war of words" between Australian baristas.

Students taking a Hospitality Food and Beverage exam on Friday were asked to assess a diagram of two different caffeinated drinks and correctly name the coffee.

The first diagram showed a cup with espresso and hot water, topped with a small amount of crema which everyone agreed was "obviously a long black".

But the second drink, which shows a cup that has espresso, crema, steamed milk and foam, has experts disagreeing over whether it is a flat white or a cappuccino The Daily Telegraph reports.

RELATED: Maths question NSW HSC students struggled to solve

This question in the Hospitality Food and Beverage HSC exam has baffled baristas. Picture: Supplied
This question in the Hospitality Food and Beverage HSC exam has baffled baristas. Picture: Supplied

Australian Specialty Coffee Association president Kieran Westlake said that based on local coffee culture the drink would be a flat white - but elsewhere it could easily be classed as a cap.

"This is a tricky question for students, as the answer is dependant on geography and coffee culture of where it is served," he told the publication.

However other baristas told the publication the correct answer was a cappuccino because a flat white wouldn't have foam.

Online reaction to the question has been fierce, with some branding the exam question "stupid".

"Obviously a flat white, no chocolate sprinkles," one said.

"It's a flat white. The layer of steamed milk is not foam. The foam layer on top is very thin (flat). If someone served me that and I had asked for a cappuccino I'd send it back. The foam layer for a latte or cappuccino should be about 10mm," another wrote.

While another stated: "It's definitely a cappuccino."

RELATED: High school question leaves students stumped

A flat white - which is the centre of another hot debate over its origin, with experts unable to pinpoint whether it originated in Australia or New Zealand - is a milky coffee that is typically "less dense" than a cappuccino. It is not meant to be frothy though it is topped with a layer of "micro foam".

In comparison, cappuccinos originate from Italy and are served with milk that has been foamed and often topped with a dusting of chocolate.

So it appears flat white is the correct answer as the diagram has a minimal layer of "foam".

It's not the only tricky question that has emerged on a HSC exam this year, with a series of tough maths questions in the NSW HSC leaving kids bamboozled.

One in particular has became the subject of intense backlash - and memes - after countless students struggled to answer it at all.

The issue arose after the syllabus was tweaked by the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA), which sets HSC exam papers.

Under the changes, NESA included some of the same questions in both the standard and advanced maths courses.

The question left students stumped. Picture: Supplied
The question left students stumped. Picture: Supplied

However, while students and teachers were expecting a handful of questions to be duplicated across both papers, in the end there were 23.

And one - relating to chirping crickets - seemed to cause the most distress.

The examination paper included a box plot of temperature data, and pupils were instructed to: "calculate the number of chirps expected in a 15-second interval when the temperature is 19C," giving their answer to the nearest whole number.

As a result, a flurry of parents and students complained about the Maths Standard 2 exam "being too difficult".

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Originally published as 'Tricky' HSC question confusing everyone