I don’t listen to the radio here, but a coffee shop in St Leonards was playing one of the better ones while I sat there drinking a brew. According to their news, cafés and coffee shops in Australia bucked the trend of other retail sectors with a “sales boom”.
I didn’t hear their source, but Euromonitor International did publish a report in March 2014:
Australians’ appreciation of high-quality coffee continued in 2013 with off-trade value sales increasing by a strong 6%, taking the category to A$1 billion.
Australia has shifted to become a coffee-drinking nation, with coffee being a popular drink for both out-of-home and in-home consumption. The sophistication of coffee drinking has become apparent, with consumers’ palates maturing, becoming more discerning in terms of flavour and origins of coffee beans.
Since coming back to Sydney, I’ve been amazed by the general quality of coffee here. In particular, Coffee Alchemy in Marrickville and The Refinery Espresso in Hornsby have made the smoothest, richest, tastiest cups I’ve ever had.
By comparison, my “home town” is still dominated by the big people. From the same source, this time discussing Singapore:
The increasing presence of chained coffee shops in the foodservice channel, such as Starbucks, Coffee Bean and Spinelli, have led to a growing coffee culture in Singapore. As such, consumers’ taste in coffee is increasingly more sophisticated and they are demanding high-quality brewed coffee for home consumption.
It’s a controversial position that will cost me hipster cred, but I think chains are a tide that lifts all boats. It’s easy to dismiss chain coffee as unremarkable and mass produced, but for many it’s the first taste at real arabica goodness after years of instant. There are also wonderful local chains like Toastbox which have revived the traditional breakfast that so many Singaporeans grew up with.
Just before I left, I’d seen some rumblings of high quality coffee springing up. I suspect we’ll start to see a change there in the next few years.
The linked reports are paywalled, but their executive summaries are available. I was not paid to link to these, or namedrop any coffee shops. That said, I’d be more than happy to take money from Coffee Alchemy or The Refinery Espresso for the otherwise free publicity I’m constantly giving them. Fully disclosed on the site here, of course.
Photo above taken by me at the 2012 Aroma Festival in Sydney.