An Ode to Australian Coffee Culture

By Caitlin Hornik

If you’re a coffee enthusiast and planning a trip to the Land Down Under, you probably already know that Australia has some of the best coffee in the world. If you weren’t privy to this information, you’re about to get educated on the coffee culture in 'Straya!

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History of Australian Coffee

Well, Australians certainly didn’t invent coffee. However, in the 1940s after World War II, Australia saw an influx of Greek and Italian immigrants who happened to bring their coffee makers with them. We’re not talking filtered coffee makers, either. They brought the real deal steam-powered coffee makers. These are the people responsible for bringing the espresso shot to Australia, and Melbourne more specifically. Italians in Australia were familiar with “cafe culture” from their homeland. The idea of sipping coffee while socializing and relaxing in a cafe originates here.

High Quality Standards

The result of the aforementioned cafe culture is the highly specialized, high quality coffee that Australians have come to know and love today. The standard style of coffee in Australia is the espresso-based, drip-style. This means it is stronger than typical American coffee, and meant to be sipped slowly. This also means that it is sold in small cups - like, really small. Think child-sized. Yes, we’re serious.

Cafe Culture

In Australia, it is estimated that 95% of cafes are independently owned. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a Starbucks because, simply put, Aussies don’t care for average coffee. In fact, Australia is likely the only country where Starbucks hasn’t excelled and where more stores had to close than open. Starbucks is synonymous with the grab-n-go culture, whereas Australian cafes are places to socialize and relax. With the vast majority of cafes being independently owned, each offers a unique atmosphere and ambiance for socializing and relaxing. People can connect over coffee and spend hours in cafes, and will carve out time to do so!

Wellness and Quality vs. Quickness

Coffee culture is associated with wellness in Australia. Cafes are known to serve light, healthy food options to compliment their coffee. Avocado toast, smoothies, and fresh produce are readily available on most cafe menus. With Australian coffee, the emphasis is placed on taste and quality. Coffee making is an art and a way of life, not a rushed process. Australians are willing to wait for quality coffee, walk farther to their favorite cafe, and spend more money for that roast or blend. It’s ingrained in the way of life!

How to Order Coffee in Australia

As with most other places, you'll start by telling the server/cashier if you're dining in or taking out, and then ask for a specific size – usually just a regular or large in Australia. When you travel to Australia, you can order a: flat white which is a single shot of espresso topped with steamed milk and a thin layer of foam; short white for a simple, single shot of espresso; long shot for an Americano-style coffee featuring two shots of espresso with hot water; and a ristretto for a highly-crafted single espresso shot made from fine-ground beans and little water. Make sure to try this wake-up drink when you travel to Australia!

When planning your Australian vacation, it’s important to carve out time in your itinerary to sit and enjoy the cafe culture! It’s a quintessential part of Aussie life that you should pause your whirlwind vacation to enjoy.

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