Coffee Culture in Australia
As one of the world’s major coffee consuming countries, Australian coffee culture is no joke! We will explore how this down-under obsession began and what makes ‘good coffee’ good.
Where it all began
Australia owes its coffee culture to its global heritage. Our obsession with coffee stems back to the mid-20th century when Italian café culture exploded in the 1940s. After World War II droves of Italian immigrants relocated to Melbourne where they brought with them their taste and love for coffee. Interestingly enough, it was only in the 1980s that coffee culture began to expand rapidly to the culture that exists today.
The first commercial espresso machine was installed in Café Florentino, Melbourne in 1928? Not long after, coffee machines made their way over to Sydney and the coffee movement slowly started to infiltrate our Australian society.
Cracking the ‘coffee culture’ code
Coffee is extremely complex and delicate. One mistake can easily leave you with a bad taste in your mouth, so how do we crack the code? What makes a ‘good coffee’ good?
The highest level of quality is categorised as “speciality coffee”. Speciality coffees are distinctive because they are grown in ideal climates around the world with varying types of soil compositions. Speciality coffee beans are graded, similarly to wine, using a 100 point scale where any coffee bean that is rated at 80 or above is considered a speciality.
The most ideal time frame to consume coffee is from 0-3 weeks, no later. Coffee truly tastes best in that time frame and needs to be vacuum sealed in an airtight bag. Once the coffee is exposed to oxygen, it immediately starts the degradation process leading to a loss in flavour and freshness.
As one of the most complicated processes, it greatly impacts the types of flavours that are extracted from the coffee beans. It takes years of experience to get the perfect roast as there are many different coffee varieties and characteristics. It takes a thorough understanding of the varieties to bring out the distinct flavour profiles rather than diminish them.
There are various “grinds” of coffee to get the best flavour, but the grind must be specific to your brewing style. Regardless of the style, your grind must be even because an uneven grind will cause bitterness.
Heating the water somewhere between 85-100°C. If the water is too cold, the coffee will become astringent and under extracted. Too hot and it will burn the coffee and become bitter.
Australians expect their coffees to be made by specially-trained baristas, not just anyone pressing a button on the coffee machine (Fickling, 2015).
In many ways, the coffee consumed is only as good as the barista that serves it and simply knowing what makes good coffee isn’t enough! Whilst there are nationally accredited academic qualifications for those seeking education the importance of quality in-house training should not be ignored. This became a strong influence over the growing popularity of our specialised Barista Training we offer here at Clifford Wallace to both clients and staff which has lead to highly-skilled Baristas and cafe staff.
Beyond Our Borders
Australian coffee culture has reached beyond national borders, with its influences stretching globally due to travelling skilled workers and growing awareness of the Australian coffee shop culture. Bluestone Lane in New York City in the USA has a series of coffee shops that are modelled on the coffee culture of Melbourne.