Posted in Kafevend Blog
If the damp, cold and dark are getting you down at the moment, read on... Today's blog aims to transport you to the other side of the world where antipodeans are enjoying warm summer sunshine as they sip their morning coffee. The temperature in Sydney today is set to reach more than 30°C, so nestle up to the heating with your flat white and let your imagination do the rest for you!
Seeing as we've just mentioned it, let's begin with the flat white, a coffee favourite in Australia and New Zealand. In the past, some denizens of the Northern hemisphere have assumed that it's just a latte by a different name. However, the fact that most coffee shops now offer both the latte and the flat white is testament to the individual character of the espresso based drink developed in mid '80s Australia, although New Zealand also sometimes claims the invention as its own. While a latte revels in frothiness, and its milkiness tends to dampen down the strength of the coffee, a flat white has a velvety texture and it's important that the coffee remains dominant, hence a double shot of espresso is often used. The milk is steamed via a steam wand which produces the microfoam necessary for that smooth as velvet sensation.
Coffee isn't just something that Australians drink either. Returning to the theme of the warm climate down under, we're well aware of the great growing conditions for grapes; you need only browse the wines and spirits aisle at your local supermarket to see the success of the Australian wine industry. What we hear far less of is that the climate also supports cultivation of coffee beans. The north of the country falls into the zone we know as the Tropics which puts it firmly into coffee farming territory, but Australia has a subtropical growing region too. Straddling southern Queensland and northern New South Wales, this is the most southerly coffee growing region in the entire world.
Coffee farming isn't new to the area; it began way back in the 1830s around Brisbane and within half a century had spread down the coast to encompass a wider area. The coffee produced was even garnering attention and winning awards back in Europe. It wasn't to last though; the labour costs associated with harvesting by hand meant that coffee cultivation just wasn't economically viable and farmers switched to other crops. Nevertheless, fast forward a century to the 1980s and coffee plantations made a reappearance thanks to the dedication of modern day coffee pioneers.
There are two factors in particular that continue to contribute to the success of the coffee grown in this subtropical area. Firstly, the cooler climate makes for a more prolonged period of ripening, which in turn results in a complex flavour profile, making it distinct from the coffee grown in tropical north Queensland. Secondly, although Australia is notorious for the girth of its spiders, not to mention their deadliness, there's a distinct absence of pests and disease that could cause harm to the coffee. As a result there's no need for the use of pesticides or chemicals of any sort.
Despite the reappearance of coffee plantations in the past thirty years, Australia is a long way from being self-reliant and the bulk of coffee consumed by this coffee loving nation is still imported. However, some of their own coffee does get exported to the European market and can be purchased online. York Coffee Emporium and Coffee Compass both offer arabica coffee grown on Skybury Coffee plantation, which sits about forty miles west of Cairns(so this is the tropical grown coffee, not the subtropical). It's not cheap, but if you're looking for the real McCoy to make a flat white with, here's your chance!