Aussies know their beans, says coffee grower
Ian Gerard, April 03, 2006
YOU can almost hear the Italians spluttering into their espressos.
Australias largest coffee grower says Australians are the worlds most sophisticated coffee drinkers and would turn their noses up at the inferior blends served in Romes cafes.
"Australians lead the world in the populations understanding of coffee," Queensland grower Ian MacLaughlin said.
"There is no doubt we drink a better coffee even though they developed espressos ... but I would say Australians would have more espresso machines per head of population."
However, Mr MacLaughlin said that while the countrys capital city cafes and restaurants were famous for their use of high-grade coffee beans, it was a different story in the bush.
You struggle to find a good coffee there," he admitted.
For the past 15 years, Mr MacLaughlins Skybury coffee has been served at a cafe beneath the Eiffel Tower and his gourmet beans are popular in Germany.
His coffee was last year served in the British houses of parliament and most recently at the Commonwealth Games.
Mr MacLaughlin, who drinks up to 20 cups of coffee a day, grows more than 60 per cent of the countrys coffee beans at his Atherton Tableland plantation - which escaped Cyclone Larry relatively unscathed - west of Cairns in the states north.
Having fled Robert Mugabes rule in Zimbabwe more than 20 years ago, he produces 120 tonnes of coffee beans each year and was one of the countrys first growers.
He said Australias high standard of living made us good judges of coffee.
"When you look at our coffee we sit very well among the leaders and we would like to say it is as good as it gets," Mr MacLaughlin said.
"If the international producers want to launch a new product they try it here first and if you try and put bad coffee in front of an Australian they will say so."
A recent report by economic researcher BIS Shrapnel found that the number of coffees served each year in Australia increased by 65 per cent over the past 10 years and the industry was now worth $840 million.
While local growers produce just 200 tonnes of beans each year, less than 1 per cent of the world coffee production, Australia imports more than 40,000 tonnes, mostly from Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.
Mr MacLaughlin said Australian coffee was sold at up to seven times the price of the average world price, and was thus classified as "gourmet".
His coffee is exported to Britain and the rest of Europe while only a small portion is sold on the domestic market