Last time we posted a blog on this subject, the global economic crisis didn’t have a snappy acronym like GFC or GEC and people’s dinner parties were only partially being dominated by boring talk of economic stimulus packages and interest rates.Now, several months down the track, dinner parties are being completely dominated by discussions involving the demonisation of the financial sector and the precise length of time before our economies to be restored to full health.

Pretty boring stuff, right? So why not talk about coffee and how it is faring in the current climate? Much more interesting, we think.

A few months back, the future looked pretty good for coffee and the hospitality industry. We believe that situation has not really changed. If anything in fact, it has improved. New cafes continue to open in Australia. New restaurants continue to open in Australia and hotel occupancy rates are holding up. Coffee wholesalers still report “business as usual” and barista training numbers if anything have increased. Four years ago, we trained two days a week. Now we run classes six days a week and see an increasing number of retrenched workers and those fearful of becoming retrenched, wanting to pick up a new skill to have up their sleeve. There has never been such a growth in companies setting up barista training schools as there is now, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne.

Meanwhile, foreign students continue to see Australia as a viable option for education and training due to our relatively weak dollar. Foreign students not only drink coffee but they are hungry for training and often make the most dedicated baristas as they need a stable job to anchor their stay in Australia.

At a very basic level, coffee is one commodity that is unlikely to suffer in the downturn. Poor performing cafes may be shaken out of the system but it is this Economic Darwinism that helps push to better cafes to greater heights.

Kevin Rudd has given most Australians a fistful of dollars recently so we might as well use it to spend on good coffee as the recession bites. And with any luck, this industry will continue to buck the economic trend.

© Barista Brothers 2009

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