Melbourne’s Cafe Culture Leads the World

Melbourne is famous for its coffee culture. In any Melbourne suburb there are locally renowned cafes offering a comfortable space for visitors to while away an hour over a hot drink. These cafes usually take their style of décor from their surrounds. In Brunswick or Northcote, you might find yourself in a humming high street café, with industrial warehouse style of decoration. Groovy hipster types with long beards and flannel shirts wander in to order smashed avocado and poached eggs on toast. In St Kilda you might find yourself in a 1950s style shop frontage, with formica tables and European pastries on offer. While in Brighton or Hampton women in cardigans walk their retrievers to beachside cafes, decorated in a sleek, minimalist, modern style.


What are the factors that make café culture so strong in Melbourne? In the first place, Melbourne’s coffee culture stretches back 100 years, to when large numbers of Italian migrants moved here. They brought with them a genuine love of quality coffee, and a culture that embraced a lazy café catch-up with friends. For this reason, coffee culture has become an embedded part of Melbourne’s way of life.

The next factor must be Melbourne’s weather. Melbourne can be a scorching 40C in summer, or a drizzly, cold 13C in winter. Melbourne is also well known for its “four seasons in one day” changeability. This can make it difficult to plan an outdoor event in advance. Rain or shine, you can rely on a café to provide a hospitable place to meet loved ones, or hide away with a book or newspaper. Cafes are a great place to cool off in summer, or warm up by a fire in winter… and a great way to escape the house!

One of the next factors thought to contribute to our coffee loving way of life is Melbourne’s increasing urbanisation. As the city grows, it becomes more appealing to find a nearby “retreat.” Families and friendship groups are using cafes as a way of meeting up without travelling too far, but getting a unique out-of-home experience.

Melbournians are also reasonably affluent and image conscious. Going out to a café is a great way to treat themselves for working hard, but also a method for people to “brand” themselves. (“Hi, I’m Jeff. I live in Elsternwick. I listen to music on oversized headphones, and I like ordering piccolo lattes.”) A trip to a local café decorated in a style that they can identify with offers patrons another way to identify themselves as from that region. One of the first questions that a Melbournian will ask another Melbournian is “Which suburb are you from?” They also ask one another which footy team they barrack for. Most of the teams emerged in Melbourne’s suburbs. Local identity is extremely important for Melbournians, and the role of the local café should not be underestimated.
So entrenched is Melbourne’s café culture that it is absolutely acceptable for workplace meetings to take place in a café. Most CBD cafes will sport a high-heeled, suited, clientele, wearing work lanyards, holding informal team meetings.

So entrenched is Melbourne’s café culture that American corporate Starbucks got booed out of town (okay, not quite) about 6 years ago. Starbucks closed down most of its Australian stores in 2010, and the few remaining stores were sold. Later analysis indicated that Starbucks misread the Australian market. In particular, bitter, weak, mass produced coffee served up in blandly decorated stores was just not going to appeal to Melbournians. For Melbournians, raised on espresso, the coffee experience needs to be authentic. And it needs to be local. The success of other chain outlets, such as Hudsons and Gloria Jeans shows that franchise systems definitely work here. The successful coffee franchises know how to harness the lucrative Melbourne market.


Any Melbournian with a mouth spends time in their local café. It is part of our way of life, and a thriving industry, made up of energetic, young, local independents, and a number of thriving franchises. Whichever of these suits your budget and lifestyle, if you’re looking to move into hospitality in Australia, we can highly recommend Melbourne as the place to invest.

So, what’s holding you back? Buy a hospitality venture in Melbourne, and start your new life in a city that supports your business! Now is the time to buy an enterprise, and make your dreams come true.

Contact us at First Choice Business Brokers on 9899-1888, for all the help you need to buy your next opportunity!