Australians are one of the world’s great lovers of coffee. They have embraced the black bean more wholeheartedly than most countries in the world. What’s more, Australian coffee culture is not tied down to the inner cities or trendy beachside holiday havens. It’s front and centre in numerous country towns, wine regions and right across our cities.
Although coffee was brought to Australia on the First Fleet in 1788, it was of questionable quality and it was not until the 1950s that good quality espresso coffee was introduced to Australians. This largely came about with the influence of European migrants. Those Australians whose families came from places such as Italy, Greece, France, Turkey, Austria and Hungary had always enjoyed a decent cup of coffee at home but it wasn’t always easy to find their favoured espresso or latte in a neighbourhood café.
The last couple of decades have seen coffee consumption boom and today Australians consume 2.9kg of coffee per capita annually, compared with just 0.6kg 50 years ago. With this has come a large array of cafés and – with a climate that is perfect for outdoor eating and drinking – you can enjoy a coffee at café tables on the street, in shopping malls, on the beaches and in parks.
According to industry research company Ibisworld’s latest industry report, the cafe and coffee shop industry will continue to grow over the next five years by an annualised 2.6 per cent to total AUS$4.96 billion.
That growth is happening right across the country where local coffee culture is serious business. A good example is the NSW regional city of Newcastle where a vibrant coffee culture has sprung up in recent years. Local favourites have sprung up in former semi-industrial areas around the harbour with names like Dark Horse, Wickham Motorcycle Co, Sprocket and One Penny Black. All owned by locals passionate about caffeine culture with a couple even roasting their own beans.
Melbourne remains the capital of Australian coffee culture but the rest of the nation is chasing it down. The reason Melbourne took an early lead is it seemed to embrace its European culture earlier than the other capitals. Melbourne’s coffee culture continues to thrive and it has become so entrenched in the cities way of life that there are numerous coffee tours offering coffee connoisseurs and lovers a look into the city’s coffee secrets.