Australian Made

The single origin that was being pushed at my local coffee shop last week was impossible to pronounce. Too many consonants and a fair trade sticker made the exotic import out to be a bit smug, even though it was fine in taste.

We consume 50,000 tonnes of coffee per annum and only 500 of that comes from our own backyard. I think Dick Smith would agree that it’s time the Australian Made logo became more of a focus.

The first big coffee boom was in the mid 1800’s when a couple of farmers in Queensland took advantage of the perfect growing climate. The taste was also above par because, according to Australia’s nationwide coffee consultant, Gary Trye, the ‘low acidity in Australian soil, gives Australian coffee its mild body and caramel flavour‘.

Australian coffee won awards throughout Europe in the late 1880’s. It was ‘roasted and ground on the premises’ in most food stores nationwide and a staple in the Australian diet. Unfortunately, the lack of cheap labour and a tsunami wiped out our coffee market in the early 1900’s; it has only become popular to grow in the past three decades.

Even though our resources are plentiful, cafés still look towards Ethiopia, Indonesia and Kenya to kick start their customers. It’s kind of like wine a couple decades back. Who would have thought our vineyards would gain worldwide notoriety? Now it’s our coffee’s turn to become a force on the international market, once again.

A couple of home brands are beginning to make a name for themselves, using history as a selling point. Red Earth Coffee, ‘Sydney’s first coffee shop serving Australian Grown coffee’, is a year old, although the owners, Patrick and Lisa have been selling Aussie beans for over five years in other establishments.  

Nat Jaques of Jaques Australian Coffee is accredited for inventing the first mechanical harvester. Coffee before 1980 was only picked by hand. This has enabled him to enjoy much success with his multi-award winning beans. His plantation is set up like a vineyard in Queensland, complete with tours, tastings and maybe even a ride on his patented machinery.

In Melbourne, there is Eureka Coffee in Fitzroy North. It is a family operation as the owners use their parents’ farm to pack their porta-filters full of home grown espresso. They also house Grower’s Espresso which supplies specialty coffee and tea from around the world. It’s a more balanced mix than feeling tongue tied over the one coffee on offer at most Melbourne cafés.

Buying Australian products will of course boost the economy and create more jobs. But more importantly, Australian coffee is glorious and should be easier to obtain than something from halfway around the world.

I may not sound cool asking for a ‘Byron’ blend but I know the taste is worth it and that’s a fair trade.

2 Responses to “Australian Made”

  1. 1 Aaron Wood May 30, 2010 at 11:55 am

    If only the coffee grown in Australia was worth the amount you have to pay for it green. The reason that the mechanical harvester was invented was to overcome the immense wage costs needed in Australia to harvest coffee beans. This in turn pushes up the price of green. Also, using a mechanical harvester reduces the quality of coffee picked from the tree, as un-ripe, ripe and over-ripe berries are all picked at the same time using a mechanical harvester. This either reduces the quality of product, by introducing inferior beans to the lot or pushes the farmers to spend money on processing to separate the ‘bad’ beans from the ripe ones. More to the humble cup than just seeking the more exclusive beans…

    • 2 Meghan May 30, 2010 at 1:01 pm

      It is more expensive, but I do think it deserves some recognition as it is sold commercially overseas and is slowly emerging in our cafés here. Yes, ‘the white Australia policy’ led to a lack of people working in labour intense businesses, and soon after the industry struggled, leaving the door wide open for good cheap beans. Jaques uses the harvester yet Red Earth and Eureka don’t, I was just outlining entrepreneurship as a method of survival against past obstacles, that’s one man’s effort. Hopefully, prices will go down as more and more people enter the market… spread the word.

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