Melbourne has a rich culture surrounding our very popular caffeinated drinks. The city also has a vibrant startup community… are the two related?

Since it’s the Christmas/New Year/Holiday season, it’s a little light on with events and hackathons. Luckily for me it means I get a bit of a break, and a chance to write some articles that aren’t just about another-weekend-hackathon. So, the first one I’ve chosen is on the coffee scene in Melbourne.

(Photo from blackcoffeeshop.com.au)
(Photo from blackcoffeeshop.com.au)

Caffeine seems to be a big thing in Melbourne. There are cafés on almost every corner and in-between. I’m pretty sure most food places offer coffee, from the $1 espresso at 7/11 to the fancy Windsor Hotel. With this in mind, let’s take a look at why it’s so popular in Melbourne and what we should do about it (if anything at all).

Going out for coffee is important. It is a chance to get out of the office, have your meetings in a neutral location and get some fresh air while you’re at it. Sharing caffeine is almost like sharing a meal. It’s not quite as intense, but you know what they say about dining, “enemies don’t share meals together”. If you go out for coffee, it’s unlikely you’ll make an enemy, and more likely to make a great business relationship.

Café meetings are fantastic for creating a relaxing and comfortable vibe for your meeting. If you are asking for something (funding, a business partnership or even a job) the person whom you’re speaking too will be more likely to give positive answers whilst sipping on a hot beverage rather than being scrutinised in an office setting. It’s all about making them feel unthreatened. An office environment can sometimes scream out “this is my territory, what I say goes”.

This is maybe one of the reason’s Adobe adds a coffee voucher to their ‘innovator’s box’. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a box any employee can ask for to build on a great idea. The box comes with a $1000 credit card and a coffee voucher. Presumably, the coffee voucher is to get up a meeting with that critical person who will help you take your idea further than a figment of your imagination. It encourages the employee to take a step outside the office (literally) and think outside the square (or the box in this case).

It’s a good thing to remember that cafés and small restaurants used to be the place of public debate. Anything important or worth talking about was discussed in a relaxed, laid-back setting whilst sipping tea or coffee. Perhaps this is the reason we like to take our business meetings to cafés. I know people who will sit in a café all day, meeting person after person for the duration of the day. The owners must make a killing from the same person!

Either people sit in other people’s cafés, or either own. Many businesses now have eateries within their walls. Google is a prime example of this with literally an entire floor dedicated to food and drinks (pretty sure they even have a bar too). A little closer to home, there are places such as YBF (shout out to you guys) who have an awesome coffee machine and they’ll teach you how to use it. You get great coffee AND you learn how to make it, creating even more bonding experiences to be had. If your workplace doesn’t have a café, you won’t be lost. There are plenty of amazing ones around with Lygon St littered with them. You won’t find some better places such as Vertue of the Coffee Drink, DOC Espresso and Wild Timor Coffee.

These places are great for what’s called street corner meetings or chance encounters. There are many times I’ve been at the Kathleen Symes Library for a meeting when half my team walks in their business partners. It’s fantastic for introducing and randomly meeting new people. I ended up meeting the new events coordinator for MAP when I walked past Animal Orchestra (another sweet place) a few months ago.

Melbourne actually has some of the best coffee in the world (or so I’m told). Lots of people from my work have gone overseas only to come back to the land down under with remarks of “Oh I’m so glad I can have a real coffee!”. Maybe it’s because Melbourne has such good coffee that there’s an insane culture for it here. It was even voted the “Best Coffee in the World” by the Herald Sun, beating Rome and Vienna, and if you read the goodfood guide, you’ll see that “startup-culture” is one of the reasons Melbourne’s coffee vibe is so strong. The caffeine addiction present is simply entwined into the business culture of Melbourne. I myself have been to more coffee meetings than I could possibly count, sometimes more than three a day!

So next time you need to met that amazing person who is going to give you a sweet job, load tonnes of money into your startup or create an ace partnership, get out of the office, find an amazing café and let the coffee do the talking. But what happens if coffee… wait for it… isn’t your thing?

MIND BLOW – we’ll talk about this in the next post so look out for it.

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2 thoughts on “It’s all about the coffee

  1. How true! I’ve personally found that clients are more at ease over a cup of coffee than a formal presentation in their office. It just turns the table in your favour at times.

    1. Thanks Adrian. Glad you enjoyed the read. It definitely puts a nice relaxed spin on whatever you are meeting about. I like to talk about the place too. We met at this awesome coffee shop this morning (Old Chamber) and it was so cool with high ceilings and nice architecture!

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