Coffee ConceptOn Melbourne's unique relationship with the bean
Put simply, Melbourne cares about coffee, and recognises it as something special. This extends not only to the beverage itself, but also to everything surrounding it and interacting with it, socially, culturally, and culinarily.
Melbourne’s impact on global coffee culture has been disproportionately hefty. For those familiar with either the city, or the third wave speciality coffee movement, this will come as no surprise – it was, after all, from here that the flat white began its inexorable worldwide advance. To gain an understanding of this Antipodean phenomenon, we must trace its roots back to an influx of European migrants after World War II. Along with Italianate coffee bars, artisan bakeries, delis, and home-style restaurants, they brought with them a high level of appreciation for cafe culture in all its forms. Their independent spirit became an intrinsic part of the city’s identity, and, over the years, has proved strong enough a force that no large commercial coffee chain have been able to establish a monopoly. The flip side to such a well established and traditional coffee culture, however, is the danger that it will become defensive, set in its ways, and closed to innovation. Melbourne has not only bucked this trend, but managed to create a uniquely exciting balance.
The coffee expert finds much in this landscape to get enthusiastic about, not least, because neat categorisations are so difficult. On the one hand, the conservative Mediterranean approach is amply represented in a vast array of businesses that regard coffee as integral to what they do. On the other, there is the city’s unique interpretation of avant-garde coffee exploration, and, of course, all the latest geekery. The complex and diverse coffee scene of the Victorian capital is underpinned by an ethos that sheds light on its enormous global impact. Put simply, Melbourne cares about coffee, and recognises it as something special. This extends not only to the beverage itself, but also to everything surrounding it and interacting with it, socially, culturally, and culinarily. As a result, baristas are arguably more highly valued here than anywhere else, and cafe design is often both inspired and ambitious. This passion for coffee is such that the lines between coffee bar, cafe, and restaurant blur. This is a place where traditionalists rub shoulders with modernists, and where mysticism and craft butt up against a more scientific approach. Melbourne manages to comfortably harbour these varying approaches to coffee, all of which are underpinned by a rather special passion and pursuit of quality.