Barista Magazine

AUG-SEP 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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M E L B O U R N E , A U S T R A L I A Is there a place in the galaxy where the coffee is so good and the cafés so charming that it's worth some long-haul time-travel to visit there? As a matter of fact, the answer is yes, and that place is right here in our own galaxy, though from my home in Minneapolis, it's practical- ly another world away: Melbourne, Australia—coffee capital of the upside down. Earlier this year, I found myself prepping to visit the other side of the planet on the occasion of the Melbourne International Coffee Expo, or MICE (naturally making the joke about being a MICE-ter Meister). The show is less B-to-B focused than trade shows like the Global Specialty Coffee Expo, Coffee Fest, or Hotelex in Shanghai, and is more lively and fun for any comers like the New York and Ber- lin Coffee Festivals, which have more appeal to a general audience of coffee lovers. The Australia Coffee Championships have center stage on the show fl oor in one building on the Melbourne Showgrounds cam- pus, and around the competitions are booths, stands, and exhibitors from across Australia, sharing samples of kombucha and nondairy milk alongside top coffees from around the world, showing off new technologies, and generally celebrating the greater coffee community Down Under. While trade shows are always fun and frenetic (who knew one could run into old friends on the other side of the world?), there's obviously more to Melbourne than the expo center, and the show was only the tip of the MICE-berg when it comes to the thriving coffee culture in the capital of Australia's state Victoria. We were lucky enough to get out and about, in and around this dynamic coffee city, and came home bursting with highly caffeinated inspiration. There are three things that Australian cafés are generally famous for: Coffee (well, duh), food, and service. The marriage of these, which seems so simple on paper, is undoubtedly what sets Melbourne's café scene so effortlessly leaps and bounds above what is commonly found in, say, the U.S. or Europe, where we typically focus on executing two out of three: Coffee and food, coffee and service, or food and service. Perhaps it's the widespread fast-food model of queueing up and taking out that has prevented coffee shops elsewhere from hitting the bull's-eye of these three elements, though Australians do some takeaway, as well. Perhaps it's the country's uniquely isolated location that has necessitated the natural evolution of a completely distinct coffee philosophy, just like it's necessitated the evolution of seemingly otherworldly animals like kangaroos and spiders the size of a compact car. No matter what the reason, however, one thing's for certain: It Opposite page, at top: St. Ali Coff ee Roasters in South Melbourne was one of the pioneer cafés driving specialty coff ee in Melbourne years ago. Some of the world's top baristas have rocked their bar, including Ma Perger, Shinsaku Fukayama, and M'lissa Muckerman. Below: You can expect to-go coff ee cups to be just as stylish as the café fi t-out itself. With so many cafés in the city, well-designed merchandise (along with great food and coff ee) goes a long way to earning recognition. This page: The Ke le Black is a popular destination for those who enjoy beautiful brunch fare in an equally beautiful space. You don't even notice there's a tall residential building towering over you. 41

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