Coffee Down Under

On January 26, Australians will celebrate what is great about Australia and being Australian.  From experience, Coffeesnobology can attest to their great coffee and great baristas who know a Flat White from a Short Black.  In Australia, the baristas go to school to increase their knowledge and competence and to improve the overall coffee experience.  Visit to read about the Australian Coffee Academy in Melbourne.  To back up Coffeesnobology’s testimony, here is my story of savoring a cuppa down under.

After forty hours of flight and a three hour nap, Chuck and I set out to discover our new neighborhood.  We were in search of a much-needed cup of coffee and toilet paper, two necessities missing at our flat. We didn’t have far to travel, for coffee that is, because Cappuccino Strip was just around the corner.  Cappuccino Strip in Fremantle, Australia, comes by the nickname honestly.  Coffee cafés, small and large, line a two-block stretch on South Terrace:  nine cafes to be exact.

Coffee reigns supreme in this festive city.  Some Aussies claim the robust coffee tradition honors the many Italian immigrants who long ago traveled to this port city.  Others claim the 1987America’s Cup Races held right here in friendly Fremantle, Australia, perked the revival of the city and coffee.

Coffee cafés are serious business and coffee drinkers are serious about their coffee, serious enough for one disgruntled mate to write a letter to the editor complaining about a bad cup of coffee.  Now, that’s a true coffee snob.

Up and down the strip we found umbrella tables cozying up to busy South Terrace while trams, buses, cars and motorcycles whizzed by inches from fellow coffee lovers gathering at the all-important coffeehouse.  In contrast to the speeding traffic, Aussies linger over their cup of java laughing and chatting.  We sat close to a man who spread his newspaper out wide on the round table while his well behaved dog slept at his feet.  Sleeping dogs nestled under the sidewalk tables are so common that merchants set out bowls of water for their canine customers.

No tap, tap of a laptop is heard at these bustling cafes.  You do hear “Have a seat Mate” and “No worries, I’ll have a Flat White.”  Cyclists, sporting yellow and orange neon-colored jerseys, prop their bicycles against the iron railings and cluster around having a natter—that’s Australian for a chat.

Typically, coffee is served with a bit of flair, fancy even.  I felt pampered drinking my latte from a slender, clear-glass cup capped with a swirl of froth; a triangle of a white napkin secured the cup; and a long-handed spoon rests on the saucer alongside a paper cylinder of sugar.  Always sugar, either served alongside the saucer in a paper cylinder or packets heaped in a bowl.  Winter or summer, the scene rarely changes on Cappuccino Strip: Coffee aficionados gather alfresco trading stylish boots for flip-flops and oblong scarves and leggings for surfer shorts and sundresses.

Across from my university office, in Fremantle’s heritage district, I frequented Blink, a café so narrow that if you bink—you will miss it.  But I couldn’t miss the caffeine lovers queuing outside chatting with co-workers waiting for their chance to step over the threshold.  One step in, one customer at a time, one steaming brew served.  A scene that would make the “Soup Nazi” envious. 
Everyday we had coffee at one favorite coffeehouse after another.  Tucked on Essex Street is Fidel’s Café’ boasting the sign Still serving the Best coffee in the whole world…ever!!  As voted by one guy who came here—one time.


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