Claudia Davies, an enthusiastic café owner takes the first sip of her early morning coffee and waits patiently for her taste buds to warm to the flavour. She takes a second sip, and experiences the pleasure of that familiar, clean and creamy taste born of an immaculate and fine grind. The kind of elements that she and her employees aim for throughout all the day. These elements, she believes, will constitute a perfect coffee.

It is no secret that an obvious coffee culture has developed within Australia in the past decade. Distributors of coffee and coffee machinery have seen a significant rise of sales in the past five years especially with the coffee industry thriving not just in metropolitan areas, but extending further out to regional areas as well.

Owner of Claudia’s Café located in Gippsland, Victoria, Claudia Davies tells of how she has enjoyed watching her café grow in the past five years.

“Gross profits have quadrupled in five years.” She explains, “I think coffee has become a large part of our culture through marketing, advertising and a coolness factor.”

Claudia’s business has been largely successful in the Gippsland region and has won the LCBTA People’s Choice Awards for three years running for café and dining as well as being a finalist in the Bendigo Bank Gippsland Business of the Year awards for three years. These successes, she proudly attributes to a superb team of people and of course, coffee.

“The coffee is a massive part of our success and consistency at the café and we don’t underestimate its importance.” She says.

“Coffee is sincerely important financially to the café too and it would be a bit of a dud without it! If you make it well, it can become the backbone of your business.”

Claudia Davies is not the only one who has experienced a growth in business. John Cassidy, owner of a coffee and coffee machinery business, Azzura Coffee, has also noticed an increase in coffee machine sales and rentals within the past five years.

“When you have an increase in coffee sales, needless to say, you have increase in machine rentals and sales as well.” He says.

“There’s a great coffee culture here in Gippsland that has developed over recent years.”

John believes that the coffee culture in the Gippsland region is just as thriving as it is in metropolitan areas. “Our business is predominantly in South Gippsland. You don’t need to go to the city, it is just as strong here as it is in the metropolitan areas, Philip Island absolutely booms in the summer.”

Coffee has indeed become more profitable. With the boom of coffee culture bleeding in to regional areas, the demand for higher quality blends and well-made specialty coffee is unavoidable.

“Cafés will pay approximately $28 per kilogram of coffee and with that kilogram of coffee you can generate around 120 cups and the owner can generate around $480 profit from their sales on a stand-alone basis,” John says.

Lee Mawdsley, graphic designer and self-confessed coffee addict believes that coffee is a good conversation starter and can sometimes be simply just a good reason to get out of the house and catch up with friends.

“If I were to go out with friends, I almost always prefer a place with good coffee and I enjoy socialising over coffee,” he says.

During times of economic crisis, coffee proves to be an affordable luxury that can be indulged on an almost-daily basis.

Coffee seems to be everywhere we look. Specialty instant coffees are now advertised in TV and magazine commercials, cafés can be found alongside one another in the main streets of any city or town and coffee products are carefully advertised in television shows and movies.

It is this and an influence from overseas, specifically Europe and the United States that John Cassidy believes has switched our taste buds on and has made us conscious of good coffee.

“The Australian community has become very discerning about coffee nowadays, whereas years ago, anything would do,” he says.

While viewing popular TV sitcoms such as Glee or 90210 which are targeted predominately at teenagers and young adults, the characters can be found frequenting coffee chains, sipping lattes and other specialty coffees in school halls, or nipping in to a café on the way to school for their necessary caffeine buzz.

John agrees that this probably has something to do with the rise of teenagers drinking coffee.

“Coffee is very trendy especially to the younger demographics.” He says, “It is very much a cosmopolitan thing. You’ll find the young ones do enjoy sitting with their friends and having coffee.”

Claudia Davies observes that the popularity of coffee culture has a lot to do with the simplicity of café environments.

“There is usually no specific dress code or demographic so everyone can feel equally welcome. A café tries to formalise the meeting over a coffee that we’ve always experienced in our own homes,” she says.

Then there is always the small matter of a caffeine addiction to consider.

Lee Mawdsley stresses that he must get his daily dose of coffee in order to satisfy his craving and if he does not, he is plagued by headaches.

“I have two café purchased coffees per day and one to two coffees that I make myself from a coffee machine at home,” he says.

“Coffee is a pure pleasure and a pleasant and relatively innocuous addiction,” Claudia points out.

But is coffee a harmless addiction?

“Despite all the horror stories about how bad coffee is for you, there are actually some antioxidant properties in a good coffee that don’t exist in bad,” John says.

“I mean, you can’t get picked up for drink driving with coffee, can you?” he adds with a laugh.

WRITTEN BY JESSICA TENI