Aussie Rules Espresso

This whole thing has Australian Barista Champion Tim Adams steamed!

This whole thing has Australian Barista Champion Tim Adams steamed!

We’ve spent a lot of time since last summer talking about the whole murky coffee/espresso on ice brouhaha,  but while that has died down, a new battle is brewing, this one in Australia. Here in the States we have a lot of regional diversity in culture, attitude, and even generic names for soft drinks. I guess it just shows my ignorance not knowing that something similar is afoot in Australia. (But in retrospect it makes perfect sense that a country as large and spread out as the Land Down Under would have major regional differences). And it appears that one big difference that really gets Aussies fired up is their coffee.

The big population regions of Sydney and Melbourne have had a long time to develop their coffee culture while more remote regions like Queensland have only recently started on theirs, and of course that leads to some tension between them.

This latest go-round started with a story written by a Southerner that said (among other things) this:

The coffee was bad. Sometimes it was bad multiplied by awful.

During a recent stay in the Far North Queensland city of Townsville my wife and I painstakingly searched for a decent kick-start-the-day cup.

We weren’t even looking for good, just palatable delivery of caffeine.

Unfortunately, going by flavour, the additive favoured by local coffee makers was extract of fruit bat droppings.

In fairness to the tropical climes it could have been that the milk had to be harvested from nursing cane toads.


But then the current national champ comes back with:

“Melbourne was first with the boutique specialty coffee roasters so they’ve had a head start but Queenslanders have an equal appreciation of specialty coffee and the barista craft – plus its a good spot to live. There’s lots of Melbourne guys moving up here,” says Adams. “That the national champion is based on the Sunshine Coast has to say something about how the knowledge is pushing through.”

Obviously this is a story that Barista Magazine needs to get to the bottom of. Maybe if the rumors are true and the 2011 WBC really will be in Australia we’ll get a chance to find out firsthand. In the meantime any Australians want to weigh in? Can you get a good espresso outside of your own city or not?

About the Author


Kenneth R. Olson is co-founder and publisher of Barista Magazine the worldwide trade magazine for the professional coffee community. He has written extensively about specialty coffee, traveled near and far for stories, activities, and fun, and been invited to present on topics important to coffee culture. He is also an avid fan of the Portland Trail Blazers and the Washington Huskies. Go Blazers! Go Dawgs!