Australian love for milk coffee

Our Milky Ways: Experts on the Australian love for milk coffee

The Australian love for milk-based espresso coffee and pride in the native café scene has driven domestic machine demand and influenced the design of fully automatic machines, say experts.

Australians love a milky coffee. According to coffee consumption statistics, over 70 per cent of coffees served in Australian cafés are either a latte, flat white or cappuccino1.

While multi-award-winning barista and coffee roaster Craig Simon believes the quality of Australian dairy “definitely plays a role in this preference”, he also attributes this penchant to the quality of milk texturing Australian consumers have come to expect from their local café.

“I feel barista competitions have driven the quality of milk texture above anything else, and that scene is particularly prevalent in Australia,” he says. “Latte art, for example, is about trying to present a coffee to a customer’s palate that has undiluted crema and untainted milk. In Australia, where so many lattes are made for customers, latte art was primarily driven by trying to have uniformity in strength perception.”

Craig further points out that Australian consumers have a mature understanding of what constitutes a good coffee because they’ve been exposed to such high industry standards.

“Unlike in many other countries, the career path that emerges from being a professional barista – and again, this is driven by such a healthy competition scene – is quite appealing, and this in turn influences what is served in cafés,” he explains. “People recognise what’s required to produce great coffee – they know a high-quality espresso machine is needed. Also, consumers will quickly reject a café if they’re not getting the milk texture right. In such a competitive environment, where there is an abundance of professional skill and specialty coffee, a café can’t afford to be serving anything sub-standard.”

Industry expert Cheryl Bosworth agrees with Craig in the sense that she feels Australians are highly discerning about what a great milk-based coffee should taste like, and the role of the espresso machine in that process.

“Aussies tend to prefer that creamy texture of a coffee that has been blended with aerated milk throughout, no thick white foam layered on top of the coffee – and this is driven by what is served in cafés,” says Cheryl, who is a national Product Trainer for De’Longhi Australia. “It won’t come as a surprise to any barista reading this article. Australian coffee drinkers are about quality, they take pride in their cafés and are also willing to invest in a decent coffee machine to emulate that barista standard coffee in the home.”

Cheryl’s inference is supported by facts – there has been increased growth in the domestic machine market. In fact, the Australian Financial Review reported pre-coronavirus crisis (in 2019) that the home coffee machine market – which was valued at close to $250 million in Australia – had experienced a 20 per cent growth rate since the previous year2.

With more people working from home since 2020 and beyond, the demand for domestic machines is likely to continue to grow, particularly in the fully automatic machine category.

De’Longhi Australia and New Zealand CEO, Paolo Albertoni, told Appliance Retailer in 2020 that the company had experienced “sustained demand for coffee machines in general but particularly across the fully automatic category”. Paolo said this growth was “testament to consumer demand to replicate the café experience in the home”3.

Cheryl accredits this rise in demand to two key factors. The first is industry-driven, while the second is technology-driven.

“I have no doubt that the strong Australian proclivity for milk-based espresso quality, has been shaped by the café industry,” she says. “Australians hold their local cafés in high regard and want to replicate those same industry standards in the home.”

In terms of technology advancement, Cheryl uses the LatteCrema system developed by De’Longhi as a specific example.

“De’Longhi have spent a lot of time developing our LatteCrema system and I have to say that I am blown away by how this system froths milk,” enthuses Cheryl, who has over 25 years barista experience herself. “Previously in the automatic machine sector you would see systems using a heated coil with a whisk, but the LatteCrema system is using real steam to mix with the milk to create that beautiful creamy and silky textured milk – it is a barista standard froth.”

Craig concurs that the De’Longhi LatteCrema system is one of the developments in the new range of fully automatic machines “that just keep getting better and better.”

“Certainly, one of the most significant changes we’ve seen, is that the new domestic machines are actually helping people make better coffee,” he expands. “It wasn’t all that long ago that domestic machines were just miniaturised versions of commercial machines. Which meant that when people brought them home and couldn’t make a decent cup of coffee, they would get frustrated and put them away in the cupboard.”

Craig notes that milk texturing has been “one of the biggest barriers” in the past when it comes to home users achieving success with their domestic machines.

“Getting the milk texture to a quality, barista level has been a sticking point. The LatteCrema system supersedes most consumers’ ability to achieve that quality and consistency,” he says. “It’s easy to forget as a professional barista the level of skill that most people have. For people that don’t want to spend the hundreds of thousands of hours honing those skills, this is an incredibly valid – and logical – option. Why make terrible texture when the machine can make great texture for you?”

Cheryl further points out that the De’Longhi fully automatic machines are customisable.

“You can customise the machine settings to your personal taste, just as you would tell a human barista how you like your coffee when you order it in the café,” she says. “The machine is your barista – so you build on that relationship to create the perfect coffee at home.”

And while Cheryl doesn’t claim that the fully automatic machines are superior to the brains and skills of a highly trained barista, like Craig, she maintains that they are an excellent option for people who don’t have that skillset.

“If you love a good coffee and you want that barista standard but don’t have those skills or years of experience, then a De’Longhi fully automatic machine with the LatteCrema system is a fantastic option. These machines take out the stress, and deliver good coffee, consistently – every time,” Cheryl explains. “De’Longhi have put an impressive amount of thought and innovation into the art and science behind perfecting milk-based coffees. I’d encourage any home user who is serious about coffee – even experienced baristas like myself – to have a look at this system.”

Readers can see a video demonstration of the LatteCrema system here. For more information about the De’Longhi fully automatic range, please visit this page.

References

  1. Distribution of total cups sold in coffee bars and cafés in Australia in 2019, by type, Statista, 2021.
  2. High-end coffee machines brew sales spark, Australian Financial Review, July 26, 2019.
  3. COVID-19 further lifts demand for coffee at home, Appliance Review, 30th April, 2020.

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