Posts Tagged ‘cafes’

More on the international Aussie coffee influence

February 7, 2011

The Australian newspaper has jumped on this blog’s bandwagon about Australian’s exporting our coffee/café habits:

“The caffeine hit preferred by millions of Australians and New Zealanders is now appearing in coffee houses from Amsterdam to Dubai and Asia. Cafes run by Aussies and Kiwis are changing the way people drink coffee across the globe via what industry insiders call “the march of the flat white”.”

As I’ve noted twice (here and here), it is cool that Australian entrepreneurs are heading out there.  The challenge remains, however, to build some meaningful advantage beyond individual, small-scale actions (i.e. getting over the sushi/pizza hurdle)…

Thai Latte please

January 28, 2011

A few months back I made some noise on here about the scope for Australia to leverage a barista advantage internationally.

The argument was that our wide brown land was at the cutting edge of the ‘third wave’ of fancy coffee-making (and by fancy, I’m not talking about the Franken-coffees dreamed up by Starbucks for people who like whipping cream, flavoured syrup and milk rather than roasted bean-infused goodness).

Having spent the last fortnight in Bangkok, I can say there may well be considerable competitive advantage for the Aussie approach a few steps back from the leading edge also.

After enduring the overpriced faux coffee of the aforementioned US giant out of desperation, and the abomination that is my hotel’s brew, I followed a tip from an Aussie and headed to a little café run by some locals who’d lived and worked in Melbourne (reportedly).

Café Ohana is doing no more than what your standard Melbourne coffee vendors does, i.e. latte, macchiato etc. They deliver it in a slick Scando-decored venue, with tasty sandwiches and a mix of cakes, but it’s not anything amazingly groundbreaking.  But it felt like an oasis to me, and seemed to be a happy haunt for numerous Japanese ladies who lunch.

It must being doing well, as the firm is about to open another branch (according to their Facebook page).

It’s a reminder that international  transfer of competitive advantages doesn’t always have to be lead with the fanciest, most innovative version of your product.  Indeed, sometime it pays to tone down the radicalness so as to find a receptive audience.

Now if only I could find a purveyor of quality craft beers around here too…

Could coffee be an Aussie advantage?

August 12, 2010

Australians (well, at least inner-city Melburnians) have embraced coffee with abandon in recent years.  There is much talk about a third wave of cafes and consumers.  On the bean sourcing and roasting side the shift in mindset and approach is one where:

“the bean is not a commodity business based on volume sales but something precious, sourced directly from Third World farmers in small batches and treated with respect.”

On the consumer side, we’re seeing a more boutique/connoisseur appreciation of subtlety and nuance in flavour, more akin to the expanding palates in wine and microbrewed beer.  I guess once you’ve educated folks about lattes and macchiatos, this is a logical next step.

An International Business question to ask is whether this shift might translate into some sort of competitive advantage for some of the players in the Australian scene. One pioneer certainly seems to think so.

Salvatore Malatesta, one-time barista at a Melbourne Uni sushi bar, and recent acquirer of the very hip and groovy St.Ali cafe(s) (which he bought from the now proprietor of the closest third wave cafe to my office – Seven Seeds) has spoken of bold plans to take this new approach to Tokyo, New York and London.

He won’t be the only Australian brewing beans in NYC.  This story reports on various Aussies introducing New Yorkers to ‘real coffee’, and, not surprisingly, London is proving a target too.

The challenge, as always, is establishing an advantage beyond the highly localised retail and service experience we see in the cafe scene.  I’m not necessarily suggesting the pursuit of a Starbucks approach (which we know was scorned by most Aussie sippers), but building a capacity to deliver a high quality, distinctive coffee drinking experience in multiple locations across one or more cities.

Thinking about the transfer of cuisines and food experiences, there are a surprisingly few examples of a firm or firms building any big advantage from the take-up of a new dining experience beyond fast food, however.  Where are the Japanese sushi giants, Italian pizza brands, an international winebar chain etc?