Which City Has the Best Coffee in Australia?

If you were to for Google ‘where to get the best coffee in Australia‘, you will find that this really is a much talked about subject here.

Top of the pile when I looked is a website dedicated entirely to this question and listing various Australian coffee selling establishments and inviting the general public to rate these coffees out of 10.

Not just scores out of 10 though, these are very specific ratings, things like 6.3, 7.2 or 8.8. How do you decide whether a coffee is a 7.5 or a 7.6?

Yes, Australians take their coffee seriously.

So which city has the best coffee?

coffeeLet’s get back to that Google search.

The next three results are all major online Australian news publications all discussing the same question I have posed today. First up was news.com.au with the headline Australia’s best coffee.

The article opens with the sentence “Coffee is an Australian obsession.” Indeed it is; the article then goes on to list 100 of the best copy spots in Australia as voted by reviewers on Yelp.

Interesting, but what I really want to know is which city in Australia has the best coffee.

Next in my Google search was smh.com.au with the title Which Australian city is the coffee capital? Surely I will get my answer here, my only scepticism is that SMH stands for ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ so they could just be a teensy bit biased.

Again though, as it turned out, this article didn’t answer my specific question. By ‘coffee capital’, they were looking at actual statistics on how often people drink coffee and how much they drink. Here’s what they said about that…

In an average three months, more than 63 per cent of Melburnians will visit a café for coffee or tea at least once, ahead of Hobart residents (62.7 per cent) and Sydney folks (61.0 per cent).”

Okay, so Melburnians drink the most coffee, just, but we are still looking for an answer to our question.

Next in my Google list was an article from The Herald Sun which covers news in Melbourne, so I wonder if they might be biased?

The opening line of the article reads “MELBOURNE has beaten Rome, Vienna and Sydney in being judged to have the best coffee in the world.”

Well yes, maybe they maybe are a little biased.

Turns out this startling fact was gleaned from a travel website called booking.com who surveyed, get this, 1000 of its users from around the world. To put that into perspective, Yelp, who compiled that top 100 list I mentioned earlier, have 142 million visitors to their website every month.

So I think we are still looking for the answer to the question which city has the best coffee in Australia. Unfortunately, anybody searching for the answer to the same question from today onwards and possibly finding this webpage will be similarly disappointed.

I simply don’t know which city has the best coffee in Australia.

I will tell you this though, we do have a lot of very trendy, cool and stylish establishments serving astounding tasting coffee. Whichever Australian city you find yourself in, you will not be disappointed by the coffee.

Australians are very particular about their coffee too. Starbucks came here in 2000 and opened up 84 stores, eight years later they’d closed 61 of them. The American company admitted it had struggled in Australia’s “very sophisticated coffee culture“, you can read the full article about that over at smh.com.au.

If you really want to know what is so unique about Australian coffee culture, check out this excellent article by Peter Baskerville over at Quora.

Café Hernandez

How about this for trendy?

Remember Warwick? Well, the last time we heard from Warwick was when he was telling us about The Beautiful and Friendly Wildlife of Inner Sydney.

He recently sent me some fascinating information about a café close to where he lives that, and this is quite incredible, is open 24/7 and has been for the last 40 years!

For those that really need to know, that is over 1 billion seconds of non-stop coffee serving, in fact it’s over one and a quarter billion.


It gets better; they are using the same coffee roasting machine today as when they first opened the café.

Let’s take a look.

It’s a little out of the way. And because it’s open 24 hours a day a lot of drivers go there…

Cafe Hernandez

These guys drive hire cars…

driversThe couple who opened the place forty years ago were a bohemian pair. The woman, who is dead now, used to paint. On the walls she has some of her own original works and some copies of the famous paintings of the great painters.

This is one of the baristas, a Korean girl named Yuni…

YuniThis is Keno. He owns and runs the place. He inherited it from his father…

Keno  examines cooffee bagAs I mentioned before, this café is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In fact, it’s been open continuously for the last forty years.

The people who come here at night don’t only drink coffee. They write novels, poetry and film scripts. And they discuss the movies and plays that they’re acting in.

the peopleThe coffee that’s drunk in the café is a relatively small part of the business. They sell a lot of coffee bean.

Keno imports the raw beans from Kenya, Nicaragua, New Guinea, Ethiopia and Brazil. He gets a lot from Kenya but he gets more from Ethiopia than anywhere else.

An interesting thing is that Brazil produces something like half the coffee grown in the world, but Café Hernandez only get 3% of their beans from Brazil; their customers find it to be a bit too harsh; they like the more refined tastes.

Then he roasts the beans and sells them by the pound.

The roasting machine

The roasting is done in this machine…

coffee roasting machineSee the funnel at the top? The raw beans go in there and fall into a large rotating barrel underneath. The barrel is heated by gas and that roasts the beans. It has a small glass panel so you can look inside and see the beans roasting. Apparently it’s very important how much moisture is left in the beans.

The tray that the beans tumble down into after they’ve gone through the roasting has a vacuum/suction device that sucks out the moisture and heat; the beans mustn’t continue roasting after they’re finished.

The smell is heavenly. You can pick it up blocks away. After the beans have roasted they are let down into the big circular tray at the right of the machine.

This tray/barrel rotates and the beans gradually cool down. Again the aroma is divine. It looks like antique machinery. Well, it is antique machinery. But it does the job perfectly and the coffee is delicious.

Then there are the blends.

There is an Italian blend, a Swiss blend, a Spanish blend and even a Cronulla blend. Café Hernandez sells more of the Spanish blend than anything else.

Next time I’m in Sydney I’ll be having a cup of coffee in Café Hernandez with Warwick, that’s for sure. Again, I thank him for the story and the pictures.

What’s the coffee like where you live?

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{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Neil McNulty December 21, 2015, 7:24 pm | Link

    It is truly difficult to exactly say which place offers the best one but as here mentioned Melbourne, may be. But I live in Perth and have tasted most of here’s coffee. Honesty speaking all of them taste well.

  • Virginia G August 11, 2015, 9:55 am | Link

    There’s a coffee shop on every corner here in Seoul – sometimes two or three! However, most Koreans I know still drink instant coffee on a daily basis. Instant coffee is quite an industry here.

    • BobinOz August 11, 2015, 9:17 pm | Link

      Yes, here too really, plenty of instant coffee on sale in the supermarkets.

  • Jennifer Frost August 8, 2015, 1:57 am | Link

    Hi Bob, as if we needed another reason to love Australia! Currently residing near Bristol and it is hard but not impossible to find good coffee here. A few little tucked away places do a great job but nothing like in Oz where the majority of little cafés serve incredible coffee. Having said that the free ones you can get here from Waitrose are not half bad considering they are straight from machine! Love your blog so much.

    • BobinOz August 8, 2015, 8:11 pm | Link

      You get free coffee in Waitrose these days? We kind of miss Waitrose, but not enough to go back 🙂

      Glad you like my blog Jennifer, cheers, Bob

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