Third best coffee on Earth? Sydney. Tenth best? Melbourne…

11 April 2024

Expresso coffee at Crepe & Coffee Co, Redfern, Sydney. Photo by John Lampard.

Espresso, brewed by Crepe & Coffee Co, photo by John Lampard.

Sydney has been adjudged the third best city in the world for coffee, this according to American magazine, Food & Wine. Copenhagen, perhaps unsurprisingly, comes in at number one, followed by Tokyo in second place. But here’s where things may get contentious: Melbourne — perhaps surprisingly — ranks at number ten on the list.

Number ten? How can that be? Did not Melbourne birth McCafe, the McDonald’s hamburger restaurant coffee-shop off-shoot? Isn’t Melbourne where the rest of Australia supposedly draws all ideas and inspiration coffee related from? Not that I’m trying to stoke up any Melbourne versus Sydney antagonism, or rivalry, here.

Not me. After all, I’m officially based almost two-hours drive north of Sydney. But when it comes to coffee consumption elsewhere, I’ve had more Sydney coffee than I have Melbourne. And besides, I like both cities. But they’re different places, they’re not cookie-cutter replicas of each other.

Objectively, how then could one possibly be better than the other? Let me illustrate, while keeping the theme victual. Years ago, a chef (whose name escapes me), described the differences between the two cities, thusly. When you go out for dinner in Sydney, it’s for a quick bite, because you’re on the way somewhere else.

That’s true. Sydney never stands still.

On the other hand, when you go out for dinner in Melbourne, it’s an occasion. People dress up, and stay seated at the table for hours. And sometimes we like doing both. But let’s avoid any further Melbourne versus Sydney discord, and take solace in the fact Australia is a country that embraces independent coffee brewers, and has little time for multinational coffeehouse chains.


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