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Kabell Mockbell and his coffee empire
journal contributionposted on 08.04.2019, 00:00 by Alison VincentAlison Vincent
The story of Kabell Mockbell and his coffee empire demonstrates how the biographies of individuals, and even the limited amount of knowledge gained from secondary sources, can expand an appreciation of the past and challenge popular preconceptions. Mockbell was a self-described ‘Egyptian Turk, of Arab parentage’ (Anon. 1915: 8) living in Sydney throughout the First World War, negotiating the challenges of allegiance to his ancestry and to his new home. He was part of a cosmopolitan community long before post-World War Two migration brought large numbers of Europeans to Australia and government policies encouraged multiculturalism. Despite the popular belief that today’s coffee culture owes its origins to the espresso bars of the 1950s, Mockbell should be acknowledged as a much earlier personage to bring the coffee shop to Sydney.