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Thread: Coffee with a twist - The Age

  1. #1
    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    Coffee with a twist - The Age

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Coffee with a twist
    Tim Hunter - The Age
    July 11, 2005

    Melbourne does coffee well. We can make it, we can drink it. Good coffee is a staple of life. But its everywhere now - even on train platforms. Caffe latte, once deemed European and exotic, is ordinary compared with the outlandish concoctions now on offer.

    Coffee now seems to be more about what you can do with it rather than how well you can do it. Skinny lattes, soychinos, decaf mocha macchiatos, and the new kid on the block, the very fashionable soy chai latte; it sounds much too like that scene from LA Story to be real - "Ill have a half-double decaffeinated half-capp, with a twist of lemon" - but it is.

    There are even a multitude of flavoured coffees now, and coffee with coloured sprinkles. Theyre novelty coffees. In fact, theyre coffee drinks. Theyre not "coffee" as we know it. The introduction of American coffee chains such as Starbucks and Gloria Jeans has a lot to do with this.

    Starbucks opened in Sydney and Brisbane in 2000 before daring to open in Melbourne a year later, so strong is our coffee reputation. Now it has outlets in the city and suburban shopping centres as well as Lygon Street, Carlton and Glenferrie Road, Malvern.

    Gloria Jeans Coffee first opened in Australia in 1996, more as a coffee bean and merchandise store than a beverage outlet, but discovered that there was more longevity in pumping out the coffees. Today, the franchise is Australian-owned with 273 outlets, nine in Melbournes CBD alone, making three million coffee drinks a month.

    These chains, along with Hudsons Coffee and the Brisbane-based Coffee Club, specialise in different sizes, styles and flavours, the most outlandish of which are dissected at the end of this story.

    "They will capture a market, and good luck to them," says Mario Maccarone, an owner of purist coffee-haven Marios in Fitzroy, where decaffeinated coffee, skinny milk and soy milk are banned.

    "If you can sell coffee with caramel flavouring in a paper cup, and make them queue for it, with no service whatsoever, and charge top dollar, you must be doing something right."

    Gloria Jeans managing director Peter Irvine says the key thing in their business is to provide an "escape" for customers.

    "Its seen as an affordable luxury, and people can come in, order their drink with what they want on it, and then go and sit and not be disturbed."

    Gloria Jeans still sells beans: its signature lines are Blueberry Morning, Butter Toffee, Cinnamon Nut Strudel, Emerald Dream, Mudslide and White Russian. Hudsons also has flavoured beans, including Hazelnut, French Vanilla, Cinnamon Frangelico and Caramel.

    Maccarone says his cafe has resisted these kinds of "coffees" with all their will.

    "Every couple of months, (coowner) Mario Di Pasquale and I will sit down and discuss the whole skinny/soy thing, and we end up in the same place: that we dont have to. If we had an abundance of bench space to deal with three jugs, then maybe. Without question, its going to slow the operation down."

    Marios celebrates its 20th year next year and, in that time, Maccarone has seen coffee evolve into what it is today.

    "In our first year, nobody asked for a soy latte, and in the first five years, no one asked for a skinny latte. But somewhere in the 90s, people did start to ask for them."

    He finds it ironic that people order skinny milk or soy milk in their coffee for health reasons, because they often order a piece of cake with cream to go with it.

    Bill Tsiavos is national sales manager for Grinders Coffee, a Melbourne-based supplier. He sees the big coffee chains as a fad, but not without merit.

    "It has introduced a younger audience to coffee. Theyre starting young, and then they mature, and go on to better coffee."

    Whatever the oppositions to the coffee chain, people still frequent them, and for different reasons. Students find them easy to study in. They can order one coffee and stay for hours. People like options and, in these stores, there are dozens of options. The chains have global recognition, and people like the things they are familiar with. City workers frequent them, often opting to pay more for the sake of convenience.

    However, says Tsiavos: "Its all about the presentation of the coffee, and its all too easy to find a bad coffee."


  2. #2
    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee with a twist - The Age

    "He finds it ironic that people order skinny milk or soy milk in their coffee for health reasons, because they often order a piece of cake with cream to go with it."

    Any of the Melbourne tribe know Marios in Fitzroy?

    I have never been there but I think I like the guy!

  3. #3
    TC is offline
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    Re: Coffee with a twist - The Age

    Yeah- hes a tad eccentric! Nice guy not sure whose coffee theyre using... Last time I was there, I thought it was pretty grunty and it seemed high in robusta. Marios is a bit of a Melbourne institution.

    I sorta love the weak decaf very hot skim latte followed by a big cheesy foccacia and a slab of cake *;D....and believe me - it happens *::)

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