I was lucky enough to attend a walking tour of the beautiful CBD and learn about the history of coffee here in Melbourne. And what a history it is! Hosted by Travel Massive Melbourne + Context Travel, we Instragramed the whole thing.
Having naturally high energy I normally only indulge in 1 max 2 cups of coffee per day, on the tour I had 5 cups, I had to politely decline more but it was all in the name of re-search I swear!
The group was small (4 people), intimate and lead by Jill a writer and scholar of coffee, it lasted 2.5 hours so on Saturday morning I put my walking shoes on and prepared to sip my way through learning about Melbourne’s passion for coffee.
It’s hard to imagine Melbourne without coffee as it is to picture Italy without pizza. Coffee was brought to Australia on the First Fleet in 1788 that passed through Rio de Janeiro for supplies. By the 1920s labour and freight costs took their toll on the industry and coffee drinking declined. American servicemen stationed in Australia during the Second World War played a huge part in getting coffee back in black.
Cold drips, aero-press, cupping and syphon are common words used by baristas but to the likes of me who favours a classic cappuccino this just sounds like jargon. During the tour you are shown the difference and can sample everything!
Fun fact: Every day, on average, the Port of Melbourne handles 30 tonnes of coffee beans! But you won’t find any beans going to Starbucks, they failed to succeed in Australian cities, with an already booming coffee culture there was no space for this coffee giant.
One stop on the tour is Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar. Unchanged in it’s decor this is where the espresso made its debut in 1954. Pellegrini’s shipped one of the first espresso machines into Melbourne and began serving espressos to tea obsessed Melburnians. I drank a beautiful cappuccino here and had a slice of cake. I was given my coffee with a smile and acknowledged as ‘bella”.
Melbourne is the capital of Australian coffee culture due to the fact it embraced it’s European culture earlier than in other places in Australia. Interestingly coffee is produced here in Australia but it’s exported to the likes of Japan for sale.
You don’t have to be a coffee fanatic to enjoy this tour, it’s ideal for a newcomer to the city, Jill shows you many hidden spots that even locals don’t know about. After 5 cups of coffee I was sent on my way buzzing the only thing running through my head damn Melbourne makes a fine cup of coffee.
Check back on www.backpackerdeals.com to find the best deals for local tours. Ready, steady, caffeine!