Saturday, July 2, 2011

Coffee Culture & Canada Day

Sydney, Australia

Coffee Culture

Drinking coffee in Australia is very different than that of North America. It is generally treated as a more social event and there is much more attention to quality rather than quantity. Brewed/drip coffee is nowhere to be found in this country, and for good reason. Most Australians, like everyone else in the world aside from North Americans, feel brewed/drip coffee tastes bad. Kind of like dirty dishwater I am told. Being a patriotic Canadian, I have had my share of Timmy's coffee in my life, but I have to admit I am completely converted. No more of that stuff again...

Australia is home of the "flat white." This drink is something of a cross between a cappuccino and a latte. One or two shots espresso, and topped with steamed micro foam milk. Much less and finer foam than a cappuccino and much less milk than a latte. Served in a ceramic mug, it's a great coffee, and I have to admit, I'm hooked.

Nancy and I bought a proper coffee machine and grinder for home. Nice Italian make and 100% manual, no coffee pods going on here. Being a temperamental machine, we decided to learn to make proper coffee, so we enrolled ourselves in a barista course. An all day event that taught us the proper grind, how to do the perfect shot. And of course, how to make the perfect milk for flat whites. We also learned proper technique for cappuccino, latte, macchiato, and long/short blacks. By the end of the day we were accredited baristas and completely wired on caffeine. That's a lot of coffee!

Some other interesting notes on the coffee culture here. There are a couple small chains, but this is the land of the independent coffee shop, and most Australians will always choose them over the large chains. There was one giant chain that made an attempt here. You can guess the one... $tarbuck$.

Well they apparently opened about a 100 stores quite a few years back and probably thought it was a good start. Considering Canada has over 1000 outlets, and a similar sized market, what could go wrong? Well, they closed 75% of them just a few years ago. There are just 23 of the green and white left here in the entire of Australia, and really only to service the tourists. A nice story of how the little guy can sometimes win, and that people still do appreciate independent business.

Canada Day

Our first Canada Day away from home. A bit sad to be away from home on holidays like this, but it almost felt like home at a Canada Day party. Hundreds of Canadians and honorary Canadians piled into a bar in the Sydney CBD to celebrate the holiday. There was poutine, Canadian beer (Whistler lager, Moosehead, St. Ambrose), and an all Canadian music playlist. A bit like Halloween, everyone was dressed up in everything from hockey jerseys to furry hats and Roots shirts. My favourite was a shirt worn by an Aussie that said: "Poutine is just chips and gravy with cheese..."

Some other updates, Railey is settled in nice here. We think he is still a bit weirded out by all the new smells, it's a whole new continent after all. He had his first beach day today and first taste of salt water, I think we agree, he is loving it here.

Some examples of the whacked out costs of things here:

- Petrol: $1.50 /litre
- Bananas: $14.00 / Kg (Yes that's right, about 3-4 bananas are 14 bucks!)
- Watermelon: $0.85 / Kg (How does that make sense compared to the bananas?)
- Pint of blueberries: $8.00 (Not eating those anymore)
- Small skinny (low fat) flat white: $3.50

Next up, the Australian Hotel...