When the British First Fleet set sail for Australia in 1788, it was the vessel that first brought coffee to the country. Conversely, relations between coffee and indigenous peoples were tense during this era. One possible explanation is that the First Fleet's supply of coffee was of poor quality.
Still, it wasn't until the 1830s that cafes started popping up in Australia. Historians have theorised that this was a direct result of the Temperance Movement of the 1820s. In a nutshell, this suggests that teetotallers and former heavy drinkers often turn to other addictive behaviours after giving up alcohol.
However, similar to how the initial introduction of coffee wore off, so did the dependency. Australia did not experience a coffee revolution until the 1950s, in the years following World War II.
Many Europeans sought refuge in Australia after WWII's destruction, choosing to begin anew in the land down under. There was a surge in the popularity of espresso during this time. Early on in their colonisation efforts, they missed the authentic flavour of coffee from back home.
Some of the earliest and most successful cafés in Australia and the surrounding areas were thus founded by immigrants. This is a common practise among the Italian immigrants who first settled in Melbourne's inner suburbs.
Coffee has been a staple of Australian life for the past half-century, and its significance has only grown. Cafés are an integral part of Melbourne's culture, and their popularity has grown to the point where they can no longer be ignored. Because of its renown as Australia's coffee capital, many travellers now travel specifically to Melbourne.
Why does Melbourne have the best cafes in the world?
Do some of the world's finest cafes call Melbourne, Australia, home? Who among us has travelled to every country and sampled the local brew in every one? However, this presents a wonderful opportunity to learn more about what makes cafes in Melbourne special. We sat around cafe tables all over Melbourne, and after doing so, we came up with eleven reasons why Melburnians enjoy the best cafes anywhere.
Intriguingly, there is no one set definition of a "Melbourne cafe," which is a staple of the city's cafe culture. Best Melbourne cafes, on the other hand, have strong ties to the neighbourhoods in which they are situated and take cues for their atmosphere and clientele from their neighbours.
Therefore, in Collingwood, you could be sipping filter coffee in a renovated storefront (Everyday Coffee) with a table full of Macbook Air tappers, or you could be enjoying a silky flat white in a former red-brick textile mill (Proud Mary). Collingwood is a city where either of these things could happen
A group of hipsters in Brunswick take over a dive bar, renovate it into a hip hangout, and the rest of the neighbourhood soon follows suit. The addition of benches has revitalised the intersection of A Minor Place. Numerous canine companions were restrained to the weathered post on the verandah, and a sizable crowd was seated inside.
An op-shop owner in Reservoir breathed new life into a rundown block of stores by creating Lady Bower Kitchen. Concurrently, a brother and sister in Kew rebrand their local milk bar as Adeney Milk Bar. The homey vibe is preserved, and a candy jar is still displayed prominently on the counter, but a Synesso has been installed, and a menu featuring popular suburban brunch fare has been streamlined to fit on a single page.
Brunetti is the pinnacle of New World Mediterranean style; a 24-hour cafe with brass and marble detailing the upward mobility of Melbourne's Italian community. While Carlton is home to Brunetti, the epitome of New World Mediterranean design, Footscray's newest cafe, Rudimentary, is built entirely out of shipping containers planted on a landscaped vacant lot. There seems to be a hip coffee shop on every corner of Melbourne's well-known laneways, and you can even find them in unexpected places like train station underpasses and telephone booths.
They're Not All In Fitzroy
Though it sometimes seems so. Reservoir (Lady Bower Kitchen), Mordialloc (Hendriks), Gardenvale (Omar and the Marvelous Coffee Bird), Werribee (Corinthians), Burwood (Foodrinkery), and further afield have excellent cafes. Casual or fancy, as long as the establishment serves high-quality coffee, original food, and a pleasant atmosphere.
Not Just For Hipsters
It is impossible to classify everyone based on their eyewear or facial hair, even though some people may have flashy tattoos, big glasses, craft beards, and skinny jeans. At the start of this year, Roy Morgan found that 63% of Melburnians visited cafes for a cup of joe. It's obvious that not everyone here can be a member of the "hipster" or "ladies who lunch" set.
Parents pushing strollers, workers wearing corporate lanyards or wrapped high-visibility vests, dog walkers toting poodles, Schnoodles, and Labradoodles, and so on and so forth. We could be meeting up with old friends, partaking in a family tradition, taking the kids on a morning walk, planning a new venture, writing a thesis, or just passing the time in the afternoon. All of these things can be done in a Melbourne cafe.
The Communal Table
The symbols of Melbourne's civilisation in the first years of the 21st century could be a large, low table made for lounging close to the ground, or a high table with stools to match. We can consider both of these possibilities. Our cafes' communal tables are a defining feature as public gathering places where the only barrier to entry is the price of a cup of coffee, and this is true for all patrons.
Because of the prevalence of shared seating arrangements in cafes, individuals can enjoy their own company while also benefiting from the company of others. Feel free to bring yourself, your laptop, and the book you've chosen for the book club. No one is ever asked to leave our cafes because they stayed too long at the communal tables.
Even though cafes are still about consumption, the experience is local and personal, and the owners are typically people who run small businesses, which is why they are remaking Melbourne's public space.
Their youthful vitality, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit show that anyone can make it in Melbourne with a good idea and enough hard work. Cafes give us a better sense of what it's like to live in this city because they connect us to the local community in a way that big box stores and malls simply can't.
Brunch Is For Jerks
Julian Casablancas, lead singer of the Strokes, reportedly said a year ago, "I don't know how many white people having brunch I can deal with on a Saturday afternoon." Brunch is a symptom of soulless suburban conformity, according to The Guardian.
Brunch in Melbourne is an opportunity to try out new, creative dishes without breaking the bank, and there's usually a lot of room for personalisation on the menus. A couple of hours spent catching up over coffee and a plate of french toast, smoked salmon and poached eggs, or a pulled-pork bun is a small but tasty indulgence that we should all be allowed to partake in. Brunch is an acceptable and delicious form of self-indulgence. Everyone loves brunch, and in Melbourne you can get a great one at a wide variety of cafes.
Cuisine: Australian Cafe
When you travel abroad, you'll inevitably be asked about Australian food. You respond with "pasta, sushi, pho, and..." which is too general, "barbecues," which is too American, "meat pies," which is too British, "seafood," which is too vague, etc (multicultural fusion).
Perhaps our signature dish should be a poached egg on top of an avocado smash with Vegemite, a dukkah dusting, or a spritz of lime and coriander for extra flavour. A brioche bun stuffed with pulled pork, bacon and egg, or even fresh crayfish sounds delicious right about now. The answer is simple: make corn fritters that are crunchy on the outside and smooth on the inside. It's possible that "Australian cuisine" is shorthand for "Melbourne cafe cuisine," a style of cooking that's egalitarian, laid-back, and casual like its namesake city.
Filter Brews All Around.
Cafes in Melbourne are increasingly investing in batch brewers, as customers prefer filter coffee. This isn't a problem that's restricted to the urban core. Customers at Elsternwick's Glovers Station and Sandringham's Bluff Town are known to linger over their batch brews.
Unlike filter brews, which are well-suited to the lighter roasts prefered for specialty-grade beans, espresso does not permit the full expression of flavours. It only takes a simple filter to remove the acidity while keeping the fruity flavour. Filtered brews are even better to pair with your meal.
Try ordering a cup of Colombian coffee with your next Mexican egg breakfast to experience how the spice in the food brings out a previously unnoticed flavour in the coffee.
World Champion Baristas
Since 2008, when Melbourne's Dave Makin (now Axil Coffee) placed second at the world championship, Australian baristas have consistently ranked highly. In addition to his 2012 filter brewers championship victory, Matt Perger placed third in 2011 and second in 2013.
Perger (2011) and Craig Simon (2013) alternated first and second place finishes in the four years that the Australian championships were held (2012, 2014). This is one of the reasons why people from all over the world, including all over Australia, seek employment in the coffee industry here.
The Best Coffee In The World
Espresso has been a staple of Melbourne culture for over fifty years. It's accurate that "It doesn't compare to the coffee in Italy" is a common complaint. The traditional Italian flavour is largely unchanged. Since the inner-tube sweetness of robusta is what distinguishes Italian espresso, it is still widely used by Italian roasters. All of the flavours are inspired by the fact that locals in Melbourne prefer coffee made from 100% arabica beans.
Wherever you want your speciality coffee to come from—from beans to brewed cup—Melbourne is where you want to be. Many of the city's cafes serve single-origin espresso or filter-style brews. We are well aware that we are consistently ranked among the top coffee cities in the world by publications like CNN, Huffington Post, Lifehack, and BBC Travel.
The World Wants Some, Too.
The New York Times published an article a year ago discussing the increasing number of cafes in the United States that mimic the aesthetic of their Australian counterparts. An emu and a kangaroo on your passport would make you feel right at home in the approximately a dozen places that were highlighted in the article. Customers in the United States do not typically go into a cafe with the expectation of receiving creative and tasty food, high-quality coffee, and friendly service.
One possible inspiration is Melbourne's cafe culture. Brunswick is a coffee shop located in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighbourhood. Similar to "a French bistro" or "an English pub," this establishment was called "an Australian cafe" by the New York Times.
Bluestone Lane in Greenwich Village was started by Nick Stone, an Australian Football League player, and Little Collins on Lexington Avenue is owned by Leon Unglik, a former Melbourne lawyer, both serving up avocado toast and flat whites to New Yorkers.
There is something similar happening in Europe at the moment. Market Lane and the Duchess of Spotswood employees are now running a restaurant in Paris called Holybelly. There is also a coffee shop in Paris known as Tuckshop, which serves dishes such as avocado and Vegemite on toast, as well as long blacks and flat whites.
Pave's cafe in Milan features recycled armchairs and a large communal table, something that Luca Scanning, the proprietor of Pave, says it took Italians some time to get used to accepting. Scanni, who worked as a journalist in Melbourne for two different periods, was inspired to create Pave by the "lazy breakfasts and lovely spaces" of the Fitzroy cafes he frequented during both of these stints.
Workshop Coffee in London's Clerkenwell neighbourhood is decorated with exposed brick, warm wood, and a large coffee roaster in the back, all of which are typical of cafes in Melbourne.
Workshop stocks a coffee blend called Cult of Done, named after the company's former connection to St. Ali. With its traditional blue espresso cups, chalkboard menu, and brew-bar meets science-lab vibe, trendy little coffeehouse Prufrock in Holborn could just as easily be in Collingwood.
FAQs About Melbourne Cafes
Australian coffee history began during World War II when Italian and Greek immigrants started to bring coffee machines to Australia (particularly Melbourne) and introduced espresso coffee. It changed the way coffee was consumed, and its popularity in the inner-city over time helped fuel coffee culture.
Even though the country is renowned today for its coffee culture, coffee didn't become prominent in Australia until the mid-20th century. The country's coffee sector largely developed thanks to Italian and Greek immigrants, many of whom moved there after the Second World War.
The beginning of coffee history in Australia started in the wake of the Second World War when Italian immigrants started bringing coffee machines to Australia with them. As a result, the Australians weren't drinking coffee. They were drinking espressos. From the start!
The most popular cup sold in cafés and coffee shops in Australia was the latte, followed by the flat white and the cappuccino.
Espresso first came to Australia in the 1930s with Italian immigrants, although espresso and the European café culture - which had existed for more than two centuries abroad - didn't become popular in Australia until around the 1950s, following an influx of WWII European immigrants.
Reasons Why Coffee in Australia is the Best
Australia may well be the only country in the world with a truly well-known coffee culture.
Over the years, Australia has established itself as the home to some of the world's best tasting speciality brews, giving rise to a serious and distinctive coffee culture. You may recall that Melbourne is known as a "coffee capital of the world," or that Starbucks closed 70% of their stores in Australia after losing nearly $143 million. This proves beyond a reasonable doubt that coffee is important to us, and it also shows that mediocre coffee has no place in America.
But what is it about coffee in Australia that makes it so delicious?
The Experience Is Unique
The coffee shops in our area are well aware of the fact that drinking coffee is about more than simply getting a hit of caffeine; it is also a means of unwinding and of interacting with others. As a result, cafes in Australia aim to provide customers with a full range of services and perks to complement the experience of sipping coffee there, not just good coffee and helpful staff.
Additionally, the vast selection of speciality coffees available receives considerable attention within Australia's coffee culture. In many cafes these days, the barista will be able to tell you where your coffee was grown, who produced it, and what variety it is, according to Fleur Studd, the founder of Melbourne's Market Lane.
Aside from espresso, filtered coffee is another common offering. The labels of retail bags of coffee beans will include the dates that the beans were harvested and roasted, and the menu will feature only specialty-grade coffees and coffees in season. Indeed, the stakes could not be higher at this point!
Australian Baristas Push The Boundaries When It Comes To Their Coffee Art
Another thing that sets our coffee industry apart from others is the creativity of our native baristas. Their lattes, macchiatos, and even our own invention, the flat white, have already reached their peak.
Australia is at the forefront of developing new coffee trends in part because its citizens are not afraid to try new kinds of caffeinated beverages. Picture turmeric lattes, avocado lattes, and coffee served in a unicorn horn.
We Have Access To High-Quality Coffee Beans And Cutting-edge Equipment.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that we stock the finest and hardest-to-find coffees on the market. Numerous industry groups and major events in Australia's thriving coffee scene have contributed to a wider distribution of speciality beans for roasters and cafe owners.
The Melbourne International Coffee Expo (MICE) is an annual event that aims to help develop Australia's coffee market. Many people travel to attend this event each year to learn from and be inspired by some of the best Roasters and Baristas in the country, as well as to check out the latest and greatest in coffee technology and machinery.
We Have Our Style Of Cafes And Our Style Of Coffee.
Given the breadth and depth of our culture, it is not surprising that we have imprinted our prefered flavour profile and aesthetic preferences onto coffee. According to Ben Bicknell, strategic project manager for the Five Senses team:
Regional dialects have given our coffee a number of unique names, including the flat white, short black, magic, and long macchiato. A lot of these drinks involve only small changes in the ratio of espresso to milk and foam, but those tweaks can make or break your morning brew.
Melbourne's café culture has become too popular to ignore. Cafés take cues for their atmosphere and clientele from their neighbourhoods. Brunetti's 24-hour cafe exemplifies New World Mediterranean design. Rudimentary is Footscray's newest shipping container cafe. Reservoir, Mordialloc, and Gardenvale (Omar and the Marvelous Coffee Bird) have great cafes.
Melbourne cafes are known for their communal tables. Small-business owners are remaking Melbourne's public space. Cafes help us understand Melbourne by connecting us to the local community. Melbourne's brunch offers cheap opportunities to try new, creative dishes. A pulled pork, bacon, and egg brioche bun sounds delicious.
Filtered coffee is best with a Melbourne meal. CNN, Huffington Post, Lifehack, and BBC Travel rank Melbourne as a top coffee city. Many cafes serve single-origin espresso or filter brews. The New York Times published an article about cafes a year ago. Australia has the world's best speciality beers.
Coffee shops know there's more to coffee than caffeine. Cafes provide a full range of services for customers to relax and socialise. Retail bags of coffee beans will include harvest and roast dates, and the menu will feature only specialty-grade and seasonal coffees. Aussie baristas are the world's most innovative coffee artists. MICE aims to develop Australia's coffee market annually.
Each year, people travel to learn from and be inspired by the best Roasters and Baristas. Too many amazing places to list.
- First Fleet brought coffee to Australia in 1788.
- Australia didn't get cafes until the 1830s.
- After WWII, many Europeans fled to Australia to start over.
- Coffee has been a staple in Australia for 50 years, and its importance has grown.
- Melbourne's café culture has become too popular to ignore.
- Many travellers visit Melbourne because it's Australia's coffee capital.
- Brunetti is a 24-hour cafe with brass and marble detailing Melbourne's Italian community's upward mobility.
- Melbourne's laneways seem to have a coffee shop on every corner, even in train station underpasses and phone booths.
- A Melbourne cafe can do all of these things.
- Dinner table.
- Our cafes' communal tables define them as public gathering places where the only barrier to entry is a cup of coffee.
- Startup's Way
- Even though cafes are about consumption, the experience is local and personal, and the owners run small businesses, so they are remaking Melbourne's public space.
- Brunch attracts lazy people.
- The Guardian says brunch reflects soulless suburban conformity.
- Melbourne's cafes serve up delicious brunches.
- "Australian cuisine" may be shorthand for "Melbourne cafe cuisine," a casual, egalitarian style of cooking.
- Customers prefer filter coffee, so Melbourne cafes are investing in batch brewers.
- Australian baristas have ranked highly since 2008, when Melbourne's Dave Makin (now Axil Coffee) placed second.
- This is why people from all over the world, including Australia, seek coffee jobs here.
- All of the flavours are inspired by the fact that Melburnians prefer arabica coffee.
- From beans to brewed cup, Melbourne is the place for speciality coffee.
- Many cafes serve single-origin espresso or filter brews.
- CNN, Huffington Post, Lifehack, and BBC Travel rank us among the world's top coffee cities.
- The New York Times published an article last year about American cafes that mimic Australian cafes.
- Melbourne's cafe culture is an inspiration.
- Australia has some of the world's best speciality brews, giving rise to a serious coffee culture.
- Melbourne is known as the "coffee capital of the world," and Starbucks closed 70% of its Australian stores after losing $143 million.
- Our local coffee shops know that coffee is more than a caffeine fix; it's also a way to relax and socialise.
- Australia's coffee culture also values its vast selection of speciality coffees.
- The stakes are high.
- Aussie baristas are the world's most innovative coffee artists.
- Australia is at the forefront of coffee trends because its citizens aren't afraid to try new kinds.
- The coffee beans and roasting equipment are top-notch.
- We carry the best and hardest-to-find coffees.
- Numerous industry groups and major events in Australia's thriving coffee scene have helped roasters and cafe owners obtain speciality beans.
- MICE aims to develop Australia's coffee market annually.
- Many people travel to this event each year to learn from some of the best Roasters and Baristas in the country and to see the latest coffee technology and machinery.
- American coffeehouses and cafés are unique.