If you ask any traveller, what do they think of Australia when they mention it? Other than Steve Irwin and kangaroos, chances are coffee will be the answer. Australian coffee culture is well-known for its flat whites. Many Aussie-style cafes are opening all over the world. Although you may not be familiar with the concept, you will have been to a cafe like this before. Ninety, a Hong Kong-based cafe and coffee shop concept, shared their thoughts on Australian cafe culture.

Australian coffee is rooted deep in immigration.

It is possible to wonder why Australia, a former colony of a predominantly tea-sipping nation, developed such a strong love and passion for coffee. The invention of the steam-powered, spring-levered espresso machine by Achille Gagaggia in the mid-twentieth century can provide the answer. After the Second World War, thousands of Italians moved to Melbourne. They brought their machines and their love of coffee.

The new espresso bars that sprung up in Australia attracted young Australian bohemians. In rebuilding itself from colonial rule, the country was well placed to embrace this new culture. Australian coffee culture is a world away from Europe’s largely French-influenced cuisine. It was founded in southern Italy and has since been free to experiment and develop into its own scene.

It has inspired a new movement in coffee.

Three “movements” can be used to group the evolution of modern coffee, each with its philosophy and ways of serving consumers.

In the early-to mid-twentieth-century, mass commodification was the “first wave”. This was the age Nescafe. The goal was to make coffee a daily, common beverage. In the 1970s, coffee became more enjoyable and enjoyed outside of the home. Specialty coffees were born in this second wave, which emphasized quality. This wave saw the rise of coffee shops from small-scale outlets to large corporations. The “third wave” brings a deeper understanding and appreciation of coffee as well as a greater appreciation for its origins. This emphasis is on single-origin espresso. It includes directly sourced beans, smaller farms, harvesters, and learning about the history behind each cup.

Australian coffee is generally smoother, lighter and more caramel-y than American coffee. Espresso beverages were already a common drink for the Aussies. Americans, however, we’re accustomed to drinking strong filter coffee straight from the pot. The Australian coffee flavors are directly linked to the third wave of coffee enjoyment, lighter roasts and more subtle flavours.

Australia’s experience has shaped the cafes.

Everyone who has been to ‘Straya will tell you that it is more laid back, slower, and more sun than the hustle and bustle. Cafes are a popular place to socialize and eat out in Australia. For Aussies, a good cup of coffee is a daily ritual.

Australia’s majority of cafes are owned privately rather than conglomerate chains. This means that there are many places with personality and charm. This also means there is fierce competition and that Australian baristas constantly seek to learn and improve from one another. No longer are any businesses that would steal their baristas or keep their blends secret. Australian cafes are proud to support and contribute to Australia’s unique culture. You can expect sunshine service and a platform to try new flavors and ideas when visiting an Aussie cafe. It is the ideal place to get energized and ready for your day.

Wellness is the main focus.

The recent rise in wellness trends is another factor that has helped Australian cafes succeed. A cup of Australian coffee is usually accompanied by healthy food. Starbucks used to serve heavy cakes and scones along with their coffees, but Australian cafes had already included quinoa bowls and avo toast on their menus.

This is in line with the lifestyle choices made by yoga-loving hoards, health-conscious youths, and Australia’s Asian neighbors who are becoming more obsessed with coffee. Australia was already riding the waves of the third wave of coffee while other countries were still relying on drip feeds.

The Battle of the Flat White

Flat white is the beverage that best represents Australian coffee culture. Flat whites are a perfect blend of espresso’s intensity and latte’s milky smoothness. They don’t need to be frothed. Instead, they just consist of a coffee shot mixed with steamed milk. Flat whites were popular in Australia long before major coffee chains introduced them to their menus.

New Zealand also claims this drink. An Australian flat white is different from a Kiwi one because it uses espresso shots, while the former uses ristretto shots. Although this may not be of much importance to those who aren’t avid coffee addicts or baristas, an espresso shot is made by pulling a little longer than a regular ristretto and giving it approximately 50 percent more volume. A flat white from New Zealand will be stronger than its Aussie counterpart.

No matter which side you are on, it is clear that the flat whites of Australians have had a profound impact on the coffee industry. Since then, there have been many coffee shops that have taken the Australian café culture to heart.

Many cafes offer Australian-style coffee in Hong Kong. However, Ninetys is our favorite. This dining establishment has become a popular choice for Hongkongers who love specialty Aussie coffee and fusion food since its Wan Chai branch in 2018.

Ninetys Roastery is their fifth branch. It opened in Causeway Bay at Lee Garden Two. The space is industrial chic with red copper accents and a neutral palette. To bring life to the space, Botanic Union plants are used throughout. The walls are decorated with art by local illustrators. It’s easy to relax on their sofas and watch the coffee bean roasting process at their Giesen roasting machine. Before you go, make sure to grab a bag of ready-to-roast coffee beans that they can customize to your specific needs!

Ninetys offers coffee and a delicious food menu. The daytime menu is casual, perfect for snacking or lunch, while the evening meals are more substantial. The PiggyIberico Burger ($168), the sweet-fried chicken waffle ($148), as well as the slow-cooked Australian Wagyu Beef Cheeks ($208), served in a red wine sauce and truffle mashed potatoes are our favorites. You’ll find special twists on the Hong Kong pineapple bun in this bacon and egg pineapple bun ($48) or truffle scrambled Eggs with Pineapple Bun ($42).

You can find a great flat white to lift your midday slump or a delicious meal to go with it. Visit the new Ninetys Roastery branch to see Australian cafe culture!