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Caffeine wars: which city is Australia’s coffee capital?

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), January 2014 – December 2014 (n=15,944).Base: Australians 14+ and main grocery buyers

True, Melbourne is famous for being the country’s most caffeine-crazed city, but has the hype overtaken the reality? The latest findings from Roy Morgan Research reveal that Australia’s coffee habits are a little more multi-faceted than that…

There is no doubt that the nation’s fondness for fresh coffee is growing and our taste for instant coffee is waning. Between 2010 and 2014, the proportion of Australians aged 14+ visiting cafés in an average three months rose from 53.7% to 56.8%, while ownership of coffee makers increased from 28.2% of households to 36.9% over the same period.

Furthermore, 38.4% of the population bought fresh coffee in any given four weeks last year (up from 36.3% in 2010). Admittedly, a considerably higher proportion (52.6%) bought instant coffee, but this has decreased since 2010, when it was 58.5%.

Not only are Sydneysiders more likely than other capital city residents to buy fresh coffee, with 43.7% doing so in an average four weeks), they are also the least likely to buy instant (45.5%). Some might say this makes the Harbour City Australia’s rightful coffee capital…

The coffee habits of Australia’s capital cities


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), January 2014 – December 2014 (n=15,944). Base: Australians 14+ (cafe visitation data) and main grocery buyers (coffee purchasing data)

However, when it comes to café culture, Melbourne leads the country. In an average three months, 63.3% of Melburnians pay at least one visit to a café for coffee or tea, ahead of Hobart residents (62.7%) and Sydney folks (61.0%).

Melbourne residents are also the most frequent café visitors, with 11.5% going 16 or more times in any given three-month period; although Sydneysiders give them a run for their money (11.3%).

Incidentally, Perth — home to some of Australia’s priciest café coffees — has the highest rate of coffee-maker ownership: 39.0% of households have one.

Angela Smith, Group Account Director, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Melbourne has long declared itself Australia’s coffee capital, and in some respects this is justified.  With a higher café visitation rate than any other capital city, Melburnians take their coffee very seriously.

“And perhaps because so many of them count on their barista for their caffeine fix, Melbourne residents don’t need to buy as much fresh coffee for home/work consumption – which is where Sydneysiders lead the country.

“While a much higher proportion of Aussies still buy instant coffee than fresh, its popularity has been declining for several years. However, all is not lost: instant-coffee brands Moccona and Robert Timms are actually bucking this downward trend, with higher purchase rates in 2014 than in 2010. Meanwhile, Lavazza maintains top spot among the fresh coffee brands.”

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About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%