For Melburnians, the black drink represents a philosophy of life
In Melbourne, more than 2,000 cafés and some of the world’s best baristas cater to pampered palates. Before the start of the Porsche Travel Experience Australia, it was only right that we took a short detour downtown on a hunt for the best beans not just in the city but perhaps even the world.
Cold drip, short black, long macchiato, flat white, affogato, aero-pressed, batch brew or deconstructed – we look at the board above the shiny stainless steel machines and feel overwhelmed with the choice of coffee available. There are countless combinations of different preparation methods, filter options and milk variations for the coffee drinker. On top of that, there’s a choice of coffee beans that rival anywhere else on the planet.
Melbourne’s coffee roasters appreciate seasonal harvests and discovering the latest brewing methods. Most blends make use of 100 per cent arabica, which are locally roasted and prepared with varying degrees of heat and treatment processes by the local baristas, who are treated rather like celebrity chefs down here. These coffee professionals compete to make the best espresso of their own creation.
The supreme art of coffee brewing
We’re standing at the counter of Seven Seeds, between coffee bushes, bicycles and rainwater tanks, with Mark Dundon, one of the visionaries of the coffee scene. His coffee shop, which is located next to the University of Melbourne, is beautiful. It’s even won a coveted sustainability design award. Mark imports the beans from the world’s best growing areas, and they’re always of pure grade and only from selected plantations. He calls it excellent micro-batch coffee. Coffee beans are as sacred here as wine is in Italy or France.
Each café has its own understanding of the art of brewing coffee. We learn that it’s all about the perfect brewing technique and the correct ratio of coffee to water. No wonder that some cafés feel akin to laboratories. The background noise is one of gurgling, hissing and dripping. “The coffee must taste harmonious and never be too bitter in flavour,” says Mark. It’s easy to appreciate why Melburnians seek out their favourite baristas and stay relaxed even during long waits.
Our geographically-isolated location has fostered this independent DIY coffee culture
Easy like Sunday morning
Like most of the participants in the Porsche Travel Experience Australia, we Europeans are initially surprised at the art form that coffee brewing has developed into here in Australia’s second-largest city. The local hype around the drink started with the arrival of Italian immigrants after the Second World War. They brought with them their coffee culture, along with the country’s first espresso machines and – above all – lots of dolce vita. It would end up blending seamlessly with the Australian surf and beach culture, the enjoyment of a cold drip coffee fully in step with the laidback attitude of the locals.
Today, every 50 metres there seems to be a small, authentic café that pampers to the palates of coffee enthusiasts. It’s claimed that each person here drinks the equivalent of 2.4kg of beans annually. More than 17,000km from Venice, where the first café in Europe opened four centuries ago, the casual vibe of Melbourne’s creative centre, its DIY culture and the healthy lifestyle of its inhabitants make it a trendy, modern café hotspot. One that has revolutionised coffee both here and way beyond these shores.
Relaxation and caffeine kick at a high level
Melbourne cafés have now overtaken restaurants in terms of interior trends. Marble, brass, solid wood, subway tiles – the competition for the most original roasts and the best beans in this coffee town is on par with the commitment to strikingly unique interiors. Take Higher Ground in Little Bourke Street, for example, which is like a cathedral to the mighty roasted bean. There are many places that call themselves a coffee capital. And then there’s Melbourne. It’s the perfect place to start our Travel Experience Australia.
This story is part of the 25 Years of Porsche Travel Experience anniversary series. We take you on a virtual world tour around the globe – with a new, fascinating episode each week. Click here to read all stories.