The love affair between Australia and coffee culture
While many people think of European countries like France and Italy as the mecca of well-crafted coffee, Australia gives them a run for their money in its obsession with the caffeinated drink. Coffee is a prevalent part of Aussie culture, with 3 out of 4 Australians drinking a cup or more daily. Australian coffee aesthetics are so popular that they have jumped the ocean to other countries like the USA. Cities such as New York are now seeing an emergence of Australian cafe styled venues popping up in cities focusing on higher-quality brewing. So how did an island nation tucked far away in the Southern Hemisphere become so ingrained with a plant that’s barely grown there?
The emergence of coffee culture
While other allied nations saw booms in automobiles and suburbia, Australia saw vast numbers of Italians immigrating from Europe. The Italians brought their traditions and coffee machines with them, and soon European style cafes emerged in Australian cities. Not too long after, the espresso machine became a giant in the coffee world during the 1950s. Australians were one of the earliest adopters, drinking the rich, strong drink way earlier than other ‘westernised nations.’
Cafes helped spark strong inner-city culture, with many younger Australians flocking to the capital cities and their high living standards. Cafe culture also helped older neighbourhoods keep their popularity while assisting cities to avoid large scale suburban car-centric sprawl seen in other countries at the time. As the industry boomed, culture and taste developed where Aussies would settle for nothing less than top quality coffee. By the early 2000s, many independent cafes across Aussie cities developed an intense competitive scene before many other countries.
How do Aussies drink coffee differently?
While many non-European countries drink their coffee drip-style with filters, Australians drink espresso-style coffee, which requires each cup to be made individually, placing quality above convenience and quantity. Unlike the USA, Australian coffee is generally more expensive and comes in smaller sizes. Australians also prefer coffee that is not as bitter and contains more rich flavours. A great example of how Australians have very specific tastes could be the failure of the US giant Starbucks. Around 2008, over 70% of Starbucks in Australia were forced to close due to underperforming. The company, unfortunately, did not count for Australia’s strong preferences in coffee and did not tailor their drinks to meet expectations. This, paired with Aussies preferring their local cafes, did not bode well to the franchise. In the land down under, coffee is seen as more of an experience than a morning caffeine necessity, with many preferring quality over convenience.
Choosing specialty and fair trade coffee
There is an argument that Australian coffee culture isn’t as rich and as deep as the Italian one. However, while Italy remains faithful to its traditional ways, Aussies constantly innovate and develop new ways to enjoy the bean. Lately, there’s been a significant shift in focus on where coffee is sourced, the ethics of companies, and how sustainability the crop is grown. Many new brands have emerged, offering unique tastes while ensuring the environment and local farmers are protected and supported. Fair-trade coffee and specialty coffee place importance on every step in the coffee development process, giving more transparency to consumers as well as unique, high-quality taste.
Culture in a cup
Many coffee enthusiasts place Australia on their list for supreme quality. The drink has become an essential part of many Aussies lives as they value the craft and unique tastes. In Australia, the drink is less of a means for energy but instead a part of the culture. Next time you require a coffee fix, head to your local shop and thank the long love story between Australia and coffee for your superior flat strong white.