Starbucks is one of the most iconic American brands recognized by foreigners around the world. Almost anywhere in the world, you will find a Starbucks with an incredibly long queue. Starbucks is popular due to its association with US culture, it's free wifi or their never-ending choice of products. However, there is one country in the world, one city in particular that you will struggle to find a Starbucks and that is Melbourne, Australia.
Before you assume Melbournians do not like coffee, you could not be more wrong. Melbourne has been named one of the best cities in the world for coffee, some even claiming it to be the “Coffee Capital of the World."
So, why does the worlds largest coffee chain in the world have no stores in a coffee-obsessed city?
Well, people in Melbourne are coffee snobs, not phased by caramel flavours or fancy drink names. Instead people in my hometown are seeking authentic blends, from regions far away served by a hipster with a crazy long history of coffee making experience. Melbourne takes their coffee seriously and are not seeking overly sweet flavours that Starbucks provides. The emphasis has and always will be on the coffee.
It is not just about what is served in the cup. Being a barista in Melbourne is serious business, it is not something you can simply learn on the job. Melbourne is home to barista schools, references are required and often a coffee making test in order to secure a job. Latte art is incredibly important and not just your simple heart design. The type of art served on coffee is used to reflect the brand of the cafe.
The coffee scene is heavily influenced by the large Greek and Italian populations whom brought us the much loved espresso that makes up the foundation for our coffee addictions. Therefore the milk to coffee ratio needs to be perfect as Melbournians are seeking to taste the type of coffee they are drinking not just sugary milk. It goes beyond a craving of caffeine and instead is about enjoying the taste.
Due to this obsession with coffee itself, cafes display the type of coffee they are serving, often having a seasonal rotation or a coffee spotlight of the week. Being a waitress in Melbourne required me to study the vast ways coffee could be served, the regions the coffee came from (more often in a foreign language) and ensured I had the ability to explain to the true coffee enthusiasts if they were drinking single origin or blended. It seems like a lot of work for a part-time job, however, trust me there is nothing worse then having someone ask for a “magic" and your not sure if they are ordering a drink or seeking something out of this world.
It is impossible, in my mind, to move to Melbourne and not develop a slight coffee addiction. I now seek out types of coffee pre their taste as not all coffee is made equally. Some better for iced lattes, others have a bitter taste and some are simply better for the afternoon. It has become a hobby and a great way to see the city. Add this coffee obsession to a booming brunch scene and you have frequent ques out of doors of local cafes all unique in every way imaginable, that's the line you will find me in.