Canberra’s Coffee Culture Goes Global

by The Editor


It’s no secret that Australians love their coffee. So embedded are we that sometimes we forget just how differently we treat the roasted brew compared to other English-speaking countries. This was highlighted recently on the BBC and, in particular, in regard to what’s happening here in Canberra.

But more about that in a moment…


In the US, large chains dominate the espresso market, otherwise it’s still good ol’ drip filter. In the UK, it’s not much better. To put it numerically, here is the number of Starbucks per million people:

Canada:                   39.54
United States:          36.25
United Kingdom:     12.24
Ireland:                      8.18
New Zealand:            5.94
Australia:                   0.96

(Source: Quartz)

In Australia things are very different. The $4 billion coffee industry is largely owned by independent operators who carefully craft their product to the benefit of our relentless addiction. It was interesting to learn that, on Monday night, the BBC’s World Service featured a story on its Newshour programme about, of all things, Canberra coffee. (click here and scroll to the 24.30 mark).

To provide context, the story correctly identified a strong post-world War II European immigration as part cause for our caffeine obsession. This was part of the background for the path of the World’s Best Barista, Sasa Sestic from ONA Coffee.


While Sasa’s historic win might be old news to many of us, it’s great to know that Canberra is still being talked about in a global context (especially given that the World Service usually only mentions Australia in regard to asylum seekers, climate change or being flogged in the cricket). It’s just another way we are promoting ourselves as ‘the coolest small capital‘. Given that the World Service has almost 200 million listeners per week across every country on earth, this is a pretty good promo.

Well done to Sasa and his dedicated team at ONA Coffee for continuing to promote our city.