• Coffee has seasons, based on the beans. (Monastery Coffee)Source: Monastery Coffee
Four ways Australian coffee is changing in 2019. Plus the Goth latte.
By
Kylie Walker

6 Feb 2019 - 3:15 PM  UPDATED 21 Feb 2019 - 12:51 PM

The latte and flat white are in no danger of being dethroned as Australia’s favourite coffee styles – but there’s plenty of other exciting coffee filling our cups. And we do like a coffee here in Australia. One survey found that one in four of us say we can’t face the day without a coffee!

So what's gaining ground this year? An old-new style, for one.

“It’s had an uphill battle in Australia because we tend associate it with ‘horrible coffee Mum and Dad used to make’,” says Adam Marley of Monastery Coffee in Adelaide. He’s talking about one of the brew styles we’re likely to see a lot more of in Australia this year – and for good reason.  It’s filter coffee, or batch brew, and it’s winning over a lot of coffee lovers. So is sustainability, another factor we're tipping to increasingly influence our coffee choices. 

Here are four coffee styles, including that new-style filter brew, that we expecting to see plenty of this year – plus a couple of other unusual coffees we’ve spotted.

Filter coffee

Some specialty coffee spots have been doing filter coffee for quite a while, and gadgets such as the Aeropress have a big following for those making coffee at home, but this year might be the year that filter coffee really takes off in Australia.

“While it’s been a long time coming, filter coffee is starting to become more popular in quality-focused cafes,” Marley says. “It’s had an uphill battle in Australia because we tend associate it with ‘horrible coffee Mum and Dad used to make’ or American diner coffee. We’re still an espresso culture but people are starting to come around.

“Made with attention and care filter coffee can be considered the ideal method for demonstrating the amazing flavours possible in meticulously sourced and roasted coffees.”

Making single filter coffees to order, by the cup, takes time, and has often attracted a price tag to match, but batch-brewed coffee might be the answer. And we’re not talking the jugs of black sludge that feature in American crime shows and novels.  

David Boudrie, secretary of the Australia Specialty Coffee Association, says he’s been noticing a machine called the Moccamaster, previously the preserve of specialty cafes and roasters, gaining in popularity. “In the past six months, it’s been in a lot of cafes I’ve gone to. It’s a very simple coffee – it’s quick and easy to make, and you just pour it out of the jug – but it’s also a chance to show off what the coffee is.”

Expect to see batch brew filter systems such as Moccamaster and Bonavita popping up in more cafes, and homes too, this year.

Seasonal coffee

Coffee is sometimes compared with wine, given all the nuances of flavour and aroma, but apples might just be a better comparison. And that’s because like apples, while it’s available all year, coffee has seasons.

“Coffee is a very seasonal product,” says Boudrie, who works as a coffee trader at FTA Coffee. “So at the moment we’re looking at African coffee, and toward the middle of the year all the central and southern American coffee."

So what does that mean for what we’re drinking?

“This is generalising, but African coffees tend to be bold and fruity, central American has good acidity. The further south you go, like Columbia, you get more acidity and chocolate flavours, and then into Brazil, that’s chocolate-y and nutty. Different regions and varieties produce quite different flavours.”

Over at Monastery Coffee, a small batch roaster with a focus on supply chain sustainability, co-founder and head roaster Adam Marley says his customers have embraced seasonal variations.

“The norm for specialty coffee roasters is to choose coffees based on cup quality. This usually results in a changing roster of coffees, single origins or micro-lots usually, throughout the year, based on when coffee from different countries is being harvested and shipped.

“For many roasters it also means different coffees year-to-year from the same countries. The coffee or coffees a roaster offers from Guatemala in 2019 may very well be different to those they offered in 2018. Some roasters, like ourselves, see the value in establishing long-term, committed relationships with the importers, traders and farms we work with - hence we’ve decided to purchase from the same farms/families/cooperatives in each country every year."

“We were worried that our customers would be dismayed by the repetitious offer list year-to-year - specialty coffee customers have demonstrated a preference for novelty in the coffee they buy, always excited by a name they haven’t seen on a bag before - but we’ve seen the exact opposite response! Not only are our customers 100 per cent behind our long-term commitment to the producers we purchase from, but they enjoy the seasonal flavour variation in coffees from the same farm - which I concur is really fascinating!”

Global brews

It’s not just the origin of the bean that reflects the global nature of coffee. More and more, we’re getting a chance to see a world of coffee making, too, from the Ethiopian clay pot coffee ceremonies performed by Djebena Coffee’s Tina Yigletu to south-east Asian style sweet iced coffees on café menus across the country.

One we’re intrigued by right now is Cuban 'crack’. We spotted this one in a show coming up on SBS Food Channel 33, when Australian TV host Gary Takle travels across America discovering the migrant food cultures that have become an essential part of the cities and towns he visits, from Italian in Chicago to Mexican in San Diego (United Plates of America starts 18 February, 9.30pm). In Miami, which has a big population of Cuban expats, he discovers a city famous for its strong coffee – and a style known as ‘crack coffee’. As a local explains to Takle, sweet, strong Cuban coffee, or cafecito, is popular in the city. Takle, who lives in coffee-loving Melbourne when he is in Australia, likes his coffee strong, and is not a fan of the weaker styles more commonly found in America. So discovering Cuban coffee, he tells SBS Food, was “a real treat”. “Cuban coffee is sweetened at the point of preparation rather being added later. The coffee is stirred vigorously until foams. This makes the thick consistency which I love.” Back home, Takle’s drink of choice is the ‘magic’, a double ristretto topped with foamed milk (it’s like a flat white with a stronger base and less milk). It’s easier to get your hands on than a cup of Cuban crack coffee, that’s for sure – while Cuban beans are readily available in Australia, a true cafecito is a lot harder to find (although you can make your own).  

A sustainable cup

“While I think it’s a long-term purchase shift, rather than a trend per se, I’m finally encountering a large proportion of customers who are purchasing their coffee based on the ethics, transparency and sustainability of the supply chain, rather than flavour, quality or location alone," says Adam Marley. “Customers - ordinary, non 'coffee geek' customers that is! - are becoming more and more concerned with the provenance of the coffee they’re drinking and this is incredibly inspiring for us.”

And then there’s….

Coffee in a wine glass.  

and the Goth latte.

These, we suspect, may have more niche markets than batch brews and seasonal beans!

United Plates of America starts Monday 18 February on SBS Food Channel 33, and will then be available via SBS On Demand. Watch 9.35pm weeknights, including the Cuban/Miami episode on Wednesday 20 February. 

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