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Australia's American coffee culture
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Jillian AdamsJillian Adams
When US coffee chain Starbucks announced it would close 61 of its 84 Australian stores Australian coffee drinkers were smug: Starbucks, it seemed, had failed to understand the Australian market. The President of Starbucks Asia Pacific, John Culver, admitted: “I think what we’ve seen is that Australia has a very sophisticated coffee culture.” Australia does have a sophisticated coffee culture and the collective belief is that its origins are European. It is generally believed that European migrants settled in Australia after World War II and brought with them their coffee culture. But the real origin of Australia’s coffee culture is American and “instant” and, even today, American coffee culture continues to influence Australian coffee drinkers. This article argues that Australia had a coffee culture of sorts prior to WWII but that it was American serviceman stationed in Australia, followed closely by the introduction of Nestlé instant coffee in 1948, that kickstarted Australia’s shift from tea to coffee. It argues that Australia’s coffee market is very similar to the market in America and that more recent trends in America’s specialty coffee industry have been closely watched and followed by Australian ‘third wave’ coffee roasters and consumers.