History of Coffee Culture in Oceania

The coffee industry is one of the biggest in the world. In USA alone, studies show that more than 150 million people drink coffee or coffee related drinks daily, like lattés or espressos etc. An average drinker drinks about 3 cups of coffee daily. History of coffee culture in Oceania started a long way ago before the coffee boom in western hemisphere.

Here we are going to talk about how it all began.
There are many different accounts on the discovery of coffee. There is a legend that says the world was first introduced to coffee in 12th century. The legend speaks of a man named Sheikh Omar who was banished from his village in Yemen. He was left to starve in the woods. Dying from hunger, he decided to eat some berries but didn’t like the taste. He then put them in water but that only made it hard. He decided to boil them to soften them up. The berries released a flavor in the water. He drank that and survived on it. When his village learned of the discovery, they called Omar back and named the berries Mocha, after the name of the village.

The First Coffee Shop in the World

As the world grew more and more aware of coffee, it became more popular. The Ottoman Empire was crazy about the drink. Coffee was so popular with them that a law was passed to validate the lack of coffee as a cause for divorce. It was the Ottomans who made the Constantinople aware of coffee. And it was Constantinople that opened the first coffee shop in the world in 1475. The name of the shop was Kiva Han.

Before 1950

Slowly, the rest of the world grew familiar with coffee. Nearly two centuries after the first coffee shop of the world was opened, the first coffee shop in Europe was opened in Italy. Following Italy’s lead, England opened its first coffee shop eight years after the Italians. France joined in two decades after England.

The Americans were first introduced to coffee in the early 17th century. It made such an impact with them that by late 18th century, a group in America had made the consumption of coffee its patriotic duty. Early on in that same century, Brazil started growing coffee. And now, it is the biggest producer of coffee in the world.

The start of an Obsession

Coffee had become an obsession with people. They would wake up and drink a cup of coffee to freshen them. Whenever they felt drowsy or tired, they drank coffee to energize them and keep the sleepiness at bay. People would consume large amounts of coffee in a day; especially doctors who were on call all day and all night. They would drink it heavily to stay awake and perform their duties. Drinking coffee became an obsession, a habit.

The Legend Café

Panels by Leonard French, inside the Legend Café, 1956. Source: Ion Nicolades and Leonard French

The 20th century saw the surge of this obsession take on a whole new level. By midcentury, coffee houses and cafes were opening up everywhere. People from different backgrounds and roots would converge on these places. These coffeehouses and cafes started becoming more and more popular for a place to hangout. There were many cafes that offered foods and other things along with coffee.

One such café, which replaced another “Anglo-American Café”, was opened in 1956 at 239 Bourke Street in Melbourne, Australia. It was named The Legend Café by Nicolades family, the owner of the café, who was originally from Greece. He hired people to completely redecorate his café. He made it more modern with the help of these people. He hired a jazz band to play and entertain his customers. As a result, the people who frequented the café were stylish and modern like the café.

The Legend Café Closed

Like all good things that come to an end, the café had to shut its doors permanently in 1970. The Legend Café was opened in a building and that building was about to be demolished. That was the end of the stylish and modern, The Legend café.

Present Day Coffee in Australia

Many people say that coffee was brought over to Australia by the Italians. And they are glad that the Italians brought it because the Australians love it. Cafes in Australia serve some of the strongest mugs of coffee in the world. There is even a cup of coffee that is strong that it comes with health warnings.
People all over the world and in Australia have grown quite habitual of drinking coffee on a regular basis. They drink it before they go to work in the morning. It helps them fell fresh and enables them to perform well at their jobs all day. Coffee is also used to sober up people who have consumed large amounts of alcohol. There are many cafes in Australia that offer other coffee like drinks, like lattés or cappuccinos etc. Coffeehouses have now become a place to hang out as well.


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