Karin Stenbäck //
// 27.2.2017

5 Things You Should Know About Australian Coffee Culture

Australian coffee culture is one of the most advanced in the world and we have a lot to learn from it. Australians care about the quality and the taste of the coffee. We could also encourage café owners to be as personal and unique as the Australians are. And most of all, enjoy coffee and everything around it! It’s a way of life, not just fuel to get you through the day.


“Hey mate, how you going? Wanna grab a coffee?”  This is how most of the conversations in Australia start, no matter if it’s a good friend, a tinder date or your colleague speaking. Coffee culture in Australia is a big thing and getting bigger and bigger continuously. I think we have a lot to learn from the far and away country.

1. Enjoy coffee to the full

Here in the cold Nordics, we tend to keep everything quite simple, stick with the old habits and think that change is bad. When it comes to coffee, we’re drinking a lot of it. First it wakes us up in the morning and after gets us through the day. We don’t understand that we’re allowed to actually enjoy coffee.

And perhaps, quality wins over quantity. In Australia coffee is basically a way of life. People are breathing, feeling and dreaming of it. It’s ok to love it from the bottom of your heart, maybe also to pay a little bit more to ensure it’s amazing and even walk a bit further to get to your favorite café.

Why do we drink our morning coffee at home in Finland? Why don’t we walk to a close-by café and order a well-made quality espresso or hand brewed filter coffee and sit down to enjoy it? In Australia that’s part of people’s morning routine, no matter where you work or how big is your paycheck.

Cafe Bennett St Dairy in Sydney
Bennett St Dairy serving breakfast as take away

While living in Sydney, I fell in love with the breakfast plates that most cafés offer. The cherry on top was a beautiful caffe latte or cappuccino. If everyone would take some quality time with quality coffee, there would be less anger, stress and hatred in the world. Even the wars would probably stop. And when in Sydney, try Bennett St Dairy for delicious breakfast plates and coffee. If you're in a hurry and don't have time to sit in a café, sitting in a train with a take away coffee is super relaxing too and a nice change to the habit of staring at your phone the whole journey to work.

2. Let the taste lead you

Even though latte art is becoming more common also in Finland, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll get it if you order a cappuccino. In Australia, a café will probably not last a month if the baristas don’t know how to make latte art. The common belief is that it only makes the coffee look pretty, but actually it affects on the taste of the coffee. Why? Well, there are 3 reasons:

  1. if your milk isn’t perfectly frothed, it’s impossible to do any kind of latte art
  2. if your milk isn’t perfectly frothed, it is quite possibly either burnt or not smooth, shiny and silky
  3. if your milk isn’t perfectly frothed, it’s going to ruin your perfect espresso experience.


And hey, even the old proverb says that the look is half of the taste when it comes to food and the plating. We should definitely treat coffee the same way!

3. Learn the difference between good and bad quality

Rainbow latte art

Starbucks has failed to enter the markets in Australia, because Australians didn’t like the poor quality of their coffee and their average customer service (Munchies). Australians want to drink coffee that actually tastes like coffee. People are demanding quality flavors and aromas, quality roasting and brewing and simply just caring baristas who’ll treat the coffee the way it should be treated.
It obviously makes a huge difference to the taste and quality, if your grinder is correctly adjusted or not. In Finland people don’t really know or care about the fact that you should adjust it every single day. Every. Single. Day. If you’re not doing it, you’re most likely selling bad coffee. That’s the truth.

And the saddest part of this all is that cafés get away with it, because the majority of the customers don’t know the difference between bad, ok or excellent coffee. It’s ok to be demanding when it’s about a beautiful thing you love. You wouldn’t eat old chocolate or surf with a broken board, because that would ruin your overall experience. The same goes with coffee.

4. Be unique

95% of the cafés throughout Australia are independently owned, which means almost every café looks different. I’ve always been a huge fan of unique, personal and fun cafés, where you can actually see the owners’ personality. That kind of places are usually very welcoming, cozy and interesting to say the least. They make you want to stay there forever, or at least a few hours, and enjoy your coffee and breakfast in peace while reading a newspaper or watching people walking by.

Interior design and small details are close to my heart and I pay attention to that everywhere I go. I just simply love beautiful things, no matter if it’s a chair, the color of the wall or latte art on my cappuccino. In Finland people don’t care enough to make something look unique and memorable, whereas in Australia it felt like almost every little café wanted to look the cutest or most modern or coolest or most whatever they wanted, like for instance Brewtown Café or Gertrude & Alice Cafe. I cannot be the only person in Finland who misses this! Be personal. Be yourself. And let it show.

Paulig Kulma
Paulig Kulma

Luckily in Finland we are getting to that direction, slowly but surely. A place that stands out to me for instance is Kissakahvila Helkatti, which is a café full of cats. The interior design is designed for both humans and cats, which is a great idea. What would be better than spending time with happy playful cats while sipping your coffee? Paulig Kulma is another place I think pops out from other cafés. It’s trendy and modern, they have up to date selection of food and coffees and definitely the coolest feature is their own roastery inside the café.

Cafe Kuuma Helsinki
Café Kuuma

And then there’s also Café Kuuma, which is a super cute little café with cozy atmosphere, delicious breakfast plates (!) and good coffee. A place where you could easily spend half a day reading a book or gossiping with your friends.

Even if all these cafés are very different from each other, they all have something in common: a unique point of view and passion for what they are doing. This is all I’m asking for.

5. Find your own ideas

If people are passionate about something, it creates a great platform for new ideas. Love for something makes you want to make it your own. This is what happened in Australia when they invented a coffee called flat white. They wanted to have a coffee that they can call their own and that caresses their taste buds.

In Finland we could quite easily create something that complements the cold weather perfectly or something that cheers you up or makes you smile during the eternal darkness. How cool would it be if next year there would be a trend that started in Finland and now everyone’s following our example?

Let’s be more creative, brave and eager to try something new and let the coffee gospel spread among us! Coffee is beautiful and precious. We should treat it with passion, care and respect. You should love coffee just as you would love your own family.