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The City, the Café, and the Public Realm in Australia

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Café Society

Abstract

More than one billion cups of coffee are consumed in cafés, restaurants, and other outlets each year in Australia, with an increase of 65 percent over the last 10 years.1 While Australia is still lagging behind nations such as Italy and Japan in terms of drinking coffee outside the home (Ryan, 2006), “Australian coffee culture” has now evolved to the point where it has achieved an important semiotic status. The swirling crema of an espresso coffee is regularly used in marketing campaigns to signify intimacy, warmth, sophistication, and “time out” when advertising products as diverse as apartment developments, holidays, banks, and household-cleaning products. Baristas have become cultural icons and the best are regularly sought out, judged and graded in the same manner as celebrated chefs (e.g., Swan, 2012). Bespoke coffee outlets now sell coffee beans in a manner previously reserved for fine wine, giving consumers a choice of region, variety, and terroir, often with the comfort of an ethical provenance in the case of “fair trade” and organic beans. The US coffee behemoth, Starbucks, which has often set the agenda for the development and aesthetics of the contemporary North American coffeehouse (Tucker, 2011), has failed to gain a foothold in the Australian market.

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© 2013 Aksel Tjora and Graham Scambler

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Walters, P., Broom, A. (2013). The City, the Café, and the Public Realm in Australia. In: Tjora, A., Scambler, G. (eds) Café Society. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137275936_11

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