Culture Shock: Perth Cafés
‘Perth coffee is
absolutely terrible.’ ‘ Just last week I paid $5 and it tasted like muddy
water, not a long black’
All of these are (perhaps slightly exaggerated) complaints that I have heard, and I’m sure many people have heard from fellow Perth citizens. These would have all been valid complaints about five years ago. Since then, Perth has experienced somewhat of a gold rush of specialist coffee shops. I could name about ten cafés within Perth City that I would get a good coffee from.
The state of a café revolution
Complaining about the price and quality of coffee seems to be a favourite pastime of Perth. Every week my Facebook newsfeed is full of my friends complaining that they just paid ‘almost $5 for a cup of shit’. All I can tell them is that they’re visiting the wrong shops.
Usually, you can estimate the quality of a product simply by the price; more often than not, a higher quality product will cost more. This is not so easy with coffee. A specialist coffee shop will spend much more on quality beans than your local Coffee Club or Gloria Jeans, but they see an opportunity for increased revenue, so match the prices of the specialist coffee shop, but with an inferior product.
Say you pay $4.50 for a regular takeaway coffee at Ristretto (just a good
example and a quality shop). Ristretto roast their own beans in house, and hire
qualified baristas that are passionate about a good coffee. Now compare that to a
Gloria Jeans, where you might pay the same $4.50 for a regular, but you’ll
receive a coffee made with $3 a kilo beans imported pre-roasted from out of
town, made by qualified baristas (through Gloria Jeans’ own training program),
but I feel safe in assuming they don’t put the same care into making a coffee
as a barista at the specialist coffee store.
We’ve also started to see many places start to advertise ‘coffee at Melbourne prices’, but I think this is an unfair comparison. It’s probably a well-known fact that most food and drink is cheaper in Melbourne. They have a larger population, and this factors into costs. Another thing that should be well known by now is that people in Melbourne (on average) earn less than their Perth counterparts. We’re a boomtown. I get paid about $22 an hour at my job, and it’s just a simple hospitality gig. My friends in Melbourne who do the same job as me get paid about $5 less an hour. I could buy one ‘overpriced Perth coffee’ per hour, and have the same weekly income.
In my opinion, the main problem people face with getting a good coffee is their attitude towards cafés. A large number of people don’t care where they get a coffee, but then complain loudly about the quality. I’m sure there are places in Perth that you can get a substandard coffee for an overinflated price, but I have this to tell those who complain about it (at the risk of sounding like a snob); change your attitude, or change your café. Good coffee is easy to find in Perth.