Coffee snobbery dissolved in an instant

Coffee drinking trends

“Damn, you people take coffee seriously,” said the visiting American staying in our apartment. We do. So so seriously. Especially in our state capital cities. We spend more time in cafes, buy more fancy home coffee machines than we used to and buy more coffee beans than we used to.

We love it when visitors to Australia swan about in our cafes too – ordering hearty breakfasts, large coffees, cronuts, paleo brownies and beetroot-cured ocean trout.

Our coffee drinking trends have changed dramatically over the past decade, influenced by the rise and rise of cafe culture. Coffee by the harbour, at the beach, on a shopping strip, in industrial chic inner burbs, bohemian burbs and cosy hangouts even in far out burbs. And now with handsome baristas sporting ink, hipster beards and man buns, serving pour over Colombian geisha and single origin ristretto. We’re also learning how to cold brew, Dutch brew and make our own piccolos. Such sophisticates these days, are we not?  Relax travellers, there’s no cultural cringe in our coffee drinking trends. Or is there?

Picolo-coffees-at-The-Grounds-of-Alexandria 2

Between 2010 and 2014, the number of Aussies over the age of 14 who cafe hopped rose from 53.7 per cent to 56.8 per cent in an average three months. Roy Morgan Research says Melbourne is the nation’s coffee capital, by the way. It edged out Sydney with cafe visits, although Sydneysiders bought more fresh coffee to take home.

If you’re visiting our shore, you might like to know the average price of a cafe coffee in Australia is $3.50. According to Coffee Prices, it’s most expensive in Perth at $3.94 and cheapest in Sydney at $3.34. Considering how labour intensive coffee is, from bean on the tree to your cup, I think it’s a modern miracle that coffee is this inexpensive.

But here’s the thing. And it really is a thing we don’t talk about. Australia’s coffee drinking trends aren’t so arch cool after all. We still buy more instant coffee than we do beans. The latest Roy Morgan Research shows:


42.2% bought fresh coffee within past 4 weeks

45.7% bought instant coffee over same period

63.3% went to a cafe within last 3 months.


43.7% bought fresh coffee within past 4 weeks

48.3% bought instant coffee over same period

61% went to a cafe within last 3 months.


34.2% bought fresh coffee within past 4 weeks

52.6% bought instant coffee over same period

55.4% went to a cafe within last 3 months.


37.3% bought fresh coffee within past 4 weeks

52.6% bought instant coffee over same period

55.4% went to a cafe within last 3 months.


34.4% bought fresh coffee within past 4 weeks

49.8% bought instant coffee over same period

49.4% went to a cafe within last 3 months. 

In fact, we drink more instant than Europeans do. Quelle horreur! A Euromonitor International market analysis says 25% of Western Europeans drink instant coffee. Americans don’t like the stuff, apparently. Instant coffee consumption in the US fell marginally in 2013 to just over $US960 million, which is a tiny piece of the $30-plus billion US coffee market. Brits drink an awful lot of instant, more than we do, if that’s any comfort. But the biggest increasing instant coffee markets are India and China.

Greeks – not Italians! – drink more cafe style coffee per capita, than anyone else.

This is Coffee Island, a roaster espresso bar I like in the Greek capital of Athens. The coffee is sourced from micofarm projects in Rwanda and Nicaragua.

Coffee Island in Kolonaki
Coffee Island
is on busy Patriarchou Ioakeim Street in hip Kolonaki, about 10 minutes walk from Syntagma Square. When I’m in Athens I perch on a stool there  (obviously the bald guy and the fat guy aren’t me) and have an impressive espresso, which costs 1 euro. Another miracle! No wonder Greeks spend more on coffee. And yup – have a look at that price board – they also spend it on instant.

Coffee Island in Kolonaki

coffee island


Brewtown, Newtown 
Coffee Alchemy
Harry’s Espresso Bar, 2/132 Wairoa Road, Bondi Beach (too cool to have a website)

Top Paddock
Stagger Lee’s 
Seven Seeds

Ltd espresso + brew
Cleanskin Coffee Co
Dandelion & Driftwood

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