Sydney vs. Melbourne Fight To Be Australia’s Coffee Capital

  • Article by Amy Bradney-George
  • March 26, 2015 at 1:17 PM

Put the cappuccino down and step away from the latte, the capital city war has set its sights on coffee and no clear solution is in sight.

While people often coo over Melbourne’s café culture, a new report suggests Sydney has found another way to up the stakes when it comes to coffee expertise.

The latest findings from Roy Morgan Research shows that Sydneysiders are buying the most fresh coffee (beans and ground) in Australia, with 43.7% doing so in an average four weeks. The company says Sydney residents are also the least likely to buy instant, with less than half (45.5%) buying instant coffee in a month.

“Some might say this makes the Harbour City Australia’s rightful coffee capital,” the report suggests.

But Melbourne still maintains it’s café culture crown: in an average three months, 63.3% of Melburnians pay at least one visit to a café for coffee or tea, ahead of Hobart residents (62.7%) and Sydney folks (61.0%). Melbourne residents are also the most frequent café visitors, with 11.5% going 16 or more times in any given three-month period; although Sydneysiders give them a run for their money (11.3%).

Roy Morgan Research’s Group Account Director, Angela Smith says the report shows some key differences in coffee and café trends between Sydney and Melbourne (even if it doesn’t show one city as “better” than the other).

“Melbourne has long declared itself Australia’s coffee capital, and in some respects this is justified,” she says.

“With a higher café visitation rate than any other capital city, Melburnians take their coffee very seriously. And perhaps because so many of them count on their barista for their caffeine fix, Melbourne residents don’t need to buy as much fresh coffee for home/work consumption – which is where Sydneysiders lead the country.”

Beyond the Sydney vs. Melbourne coffee debate, however, Roy Morgan’s findings also highlight the rapid changes in coffee consumption and preferences.

“While a much higher proportion of Aussies still buy instant coffee than fresh, its popularity has been declining for several years,” Smith says.

“However, all is not lost: instant-coffee brands Moccona and Robert Timms are actually bucking this downward trend, with higher purchase rates in 2014 than in 2010. Meanwhile, Lavazza maintains top spot among the fresh coffee brands.”

Apparently coffee has also become one of the key ways to tell which city is the best, with many people citing their favourite Sydney or Melbourne cafés as proof that one place is superior to the other. But just like coffee blends, sometimes it really does come down to personal preferences.

Images: Cafe latte, source: Wikimedia Commons; ground coffee, source: supplied.

Comments (3)
  • March 26, 2015 at 5:24 PM

    I’m a Sydney man myself.

  • March 26, 2015 at 5:28 PM

    On the coffee thing, I do think it’s interesting how much it’s changed. I worked in cafes until three years ago and recently tried to pick up work after relocating…it’s soo different now. You’re expected to know everything about the beans, the grind, the types of milk used (not just full cream, skim and soy, but almond, rice etc), and there’s new espresso styles like “magic” that I don’t even recognise. I felt totally out of my depth…then again I was probably in a “hipster” cafe so maybe that has something to do with it, but it does feel like everyday people know a LOT more about coffee these days.

  • March 26, 2015 at 5:30 PM

    Amelia, that’s the way it is these days. Even if you order a flat white or latte there’s an assumption there will be profound artwork in the milk and stuff. Personally I’m happy as long as the coffee and milk aren’t burnt and I don’t have to wait too long, but I still have instant coffee at home so I’m probably considered a freak by the coffee snobs (who are now the majority).

  • April 02, 2015 at 11:32 AM

    […] purchase of beans and ground coffee over instant coffee. A recent report from Roy Morgan found that 38.4% of the population bought fresh coffee in any given four week period in 2014, up 2.1% on figures from 2010. It also […]