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Savouring Aussie coffee culture

Everything you need to know about Australian coffee culture, coffee types and best coffee spots.
By · April 12, 2024
Savouring Aussie coffee culture

There’s no doubt that Aussies are easy going, laid back kind of people. But if there’s one thing that can rub them up the wrong way, it’s a bad tasting brew. In Australia coffee is more than just a drink to consume, it’s a deeply ingrained part of the culture.

So where does this espresso obsession come from?
What are the most popular coffee types in Australia?
And, where’s the best spot to enjoy a cup of the good stuff?

In this article we’re covering everything you need to know about coffee culture and ordering like a local.

The origins of coffee in Australia

Coffee was first introduced to Australia in the late 18th century, but it wasn’t until the second world war that it really increased in popularity. It was at this time that Italian immigrants began arriving in the country - bringing with them their espresso machines.

Since then the Aussie espresso obsession has become a part of life and there are now more than 50,000 coffee shops located around the country.

Aussie coffee culture

With an abundance of cafés and restaurants in operation across Australia, it’s no surprise that a morning coffee sits at the top of the to-do list here.

One third of Aussies say they’re unable to survive a single day without it.

Three quarters of the population enjoys at least one cup a day, and of those, 28% have three or more cups per day.

They don’t mind paying for it either. Coffee is a thriving business Down Under with more than four in five Australians (84%) spending money on coffee every week. Mccrindle estimates the coffee shop industry is expected to generate a whopping $3.9 billion in 2023-24.

Australian coffee fast facts

  • Australians consume an average of 1.91 kg of coffee per person per year.
  • The Australian coffee market size reached $6.2 billion in 2019.
  • Aussies aged 35-49 are the biggest consumers of espresso coffee, with 63% of espresso drinkers in this age range.

Ordering coffee

Now that you know what a big deal coffee is in Australia, you probably want to make sure you get your coffee order right when you’re hitting the local cafes.

The first step is understanding the types of coffee available, the second - testing them all to see which you like best.

Coffee types Australia

If you’re still in doubt about how seriously Australians take their coffee drinking, all you have to do is take a look at the coffee menu at any of the tens of thousands of cafes located around the country.

Average coffee menu

  • Cappuccino
  • Latte
  • Long black
  • Short black
  • Espresso
  • Macchiato
  • Piccolo
  • Iced coffee

and many more.

Then there’s coffee strength to get your head around

  • Full strength
  • Half strength
  • Quarter strength
  • Double shot
  • Decaf

Milk Options

And just when you think you’ve figured out what you’re having, there’s a selection of milks to choose from too.

Note: This is not an extensive list, just a few of the most common options.

  • Whole milk
  • Skimmed milk
  • Lactose free milk
  • Oat milk
  • Almond milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Soy milk

Feeling overwhelmed?

Don’t worry, we’re covering the most popular types of coffees next so that you can cut through the confusion and find your perfect cup.

Australia’s favourite coffee

There are some thirteen coffee types consumed around Australia but one coffee reigns supreme - the cappuccino.

Cappuccino is the most popular coffee drink among Australians, with 30% of people preferring it. Flat Whites come in third place in the popularity contest making up 15% of Australian coffee orders.

While the options seem to be endless on the coffee manu, there are only really five coffee types that you need to know about when you first begin ordering beverages:

  • Espresso is the foundation of every coffee but can be enjoyed on its own. It’s short, strong and intense - suitable for those who love a deep and robust coffee flavour.

  • The Flat White is made with a shot of espresso and steamed milk with just a smooth top of micro foam.

  • Cappuccino is a shot of espresso with frothed milk and a top of chocolate on top.

  • A Latte is much like a cappuccino except without the chocolate top and served in a glass.

  • Long Black is the most popular drink option for those who enjoy their coffee without milk. It’s made with just espresso and hot water.

The best coffee shops in the country

Not all coffee shops are created equal and we want to get you started on the right foot. Here’s our top picks for great tasting coffee around the country.

  • Paddy Barry’s 96 Gilles St, Adelaide. This quiet city coffee spot is known by locals for its great tasting coffee, atmosphere and sustainable approach. Check it out next time you’re visiting Adelaide.
  • Sydney’s Surrey Hills is loaded with coffee shops but one stands out from the crowds. Single O is known for its ‘painstakingly’ well made coffee, freshly roasted beans and as one of the first businesses to kick off the coffee roasting culture in the area.
  • Melbourne’s thriving coffee scene will leave you spoilt for choice but, if it’s a world-leading coffee experience you’re looking for, you’ll find it at Axil Coffee Roasters. Winners of the World Barista Championship and of this year’s ASCA National Coffee Championships, a great tasting cup of coffee is almost guaranteed.
  • Blackbird Espresso in Cairns was once named as the second best cafe in Australia by Beanhunter with an average score of 9.5 - (coffee, atmosphere and customer service). The cafe has its own organic Fairtrade blend and is one of the most popular coffee spots in the whole city.

  • Coffee Anthology is our pick for Brisbane. Offering a selection of high-end coffees made by expert baristas, this is more than just a quick-stop coffee spot. Every coffee is created with attention to detail and your coffee maker will guide you through the various flavour profiles available before matching you with your roast and brewing method. This is a must-visit when you’re in town.
  • Pigeon Hole Cafe in Hobart gets a mention on almost every ‘best coffee shop in Hobart’ list - and for good reason. Started by farmers as a way of sharing the produce from their land, this spot is tucked away in the peaceful streets of West Hobart.

The food has also earned a great reputation from locals and tourists alike making it a great brunch spot for those who want an extra something alongside their morning coffee.

  • The Pocket Espresso Bar on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland is always brimming with smiling locals - the biggest tell that a cafe does great tasting coffee. Located at Moffat Beach, this spot serves up delicious caffeinated drinks and food, alongside a serve of beach air and ocean views.

  • As a hybrid region of tourists, travellers and laid back locals Byron Bay has a lot of options when it comes to great coffee. Sitting at the top of the popularity list is Sparrow, a local joint located in the heart of town. You know what they say: drink and eat where the locals do for the best tasting experiences, and this spot does not disappoint.
  • Blacklist Coffee Roasters is a multi-award winning specialty Coffee Roastery. The experience is a little more high end than your average local cafe with coffee served in wine glasses and accompanied by in-depth tasting notes. There is also the option to select a tasting menu where customers are invited to sample as many coffees as they like in any style for just $7. If you’re looking to go deep in your coffee learning journey, this is the spot to do it.
  • The Cupping Room is Canberra’s largest specialty coffee roaster. They’ve competed in national and international coffee competitions, work with coffee farmers all over the world, and are actively engaged with coffee machine builders and water specialists to ensure they use the best equipment and tech to create every single cup. The team have almost 2,500 reviews on Google so do yourself a favour and get in on the coffee action at this spot the next time you’re in Canberra.

Only settle for the best

Wherever you’re heading in Australia, good coffee will never be too far away. And, the only way to truly enjoy coffee like a local here is to test as many coffee types, visit as many cafes as you can, and only settle for the best.

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