Posted by: Waheeda Harris | June 24, 2010

Melbourne: a city who loves coffee

When I visit a city for the first time, I try to find out how the locals live – where they like to eat, what they like to drink and where they spend time away from work.

The city of Melbourne followed what I had learned when I had spent time in Sydney – warm, friendly people who loved the outdoors and were passionate about their sports. 

And then I was let into the next level – their adoration of coffee.

I had seen the coffee-obsession in Sydney, with the heavy influence of Italian culture on the city, but it seemed to magnify in Melbourne, especially with its well-known arts, design and fashion community. When I asked where to get good coffee, locals could easily suggest the closest cafe at hand, unless it was a specific neighbourhood, and then gave me several options. Everyone had an opinion about coffee.

I’ve never been a coffee drinker – my family always drank tea. My Father succumbed to the coffee pattern as a teacher, since it was always available in the staff room. And I have grown to appreciate a good cup of coffee, thanks to travelling, and experiencing good coffee, especially in countries where its grown.

But not only is there a die-hard love for coffee, the Aussies have their own language for it. I soon learned that cafe au lait was not something offered, but a flat white was what I was after.

I mirrored the locals with my regular consumption of coffee, stopping to hang out at cafes as I explored the city and regularly noticing the numerous places to purchase coffee on the go or at a lovely cafe with a terrace.

I saw little evidence of the numerous cheap coffee places that populate North America with watery brown brew – coffee was raised up to be only available at the classic espresso bar, and nothing else was acceptable.

So thanks to a healthy population of Italian and Greek immigrants that arrived in the past century, this nation revels in those cuisines and their devotion to good strong coffee – with Melbourne leading the pack.

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