Research Outline

Cafe Trends in Australia


Inform strategic propositions for a food brand comparable to cafe quality food by providing insight on food and consumer trends on Australian cafes. Insight on what consumers need from cafe food and how it's changing should be priority, especially anything new that has emerged given that COVID-19 lockdowns are over.

Early Findings

  • According to Unilever, some of the top trends for cafe food are plant-based, sustainable, and mushrooms.
  • Two examples of cafes that are doing good plant-based food are Cafe Verd, which offers a Tijuana bowl ("brown rice, chili beans, lettuce, tomato, carrot, coriander, corn chips, avocado, sunflower seed parmesan, chipotle lime mayo") and Raw Trader which brands itself as a "specialty raw-dessert bar".
  • Mushrooms are supposed to be the next big thing, replacing cauliflower. This is especially interesting as cafes are using their coffee grounds to grow the mushrooms. These mushrooms will turn up in teas, desserts, and even jerky.
  • Kombucha will continue to grow in popularity, with advice being to vertically stack them in a cafe or keep a selection in the fridge. Bondi's Rosenbaurn & Fuller even uses it as an ingredient in their menu.
  • The discourse is moving beyond removing just plastic straws, to a focus on a cafe's packaging sustainability. It will be increasingly important to reduce all non-biodegradable packaging waste, from takeaway containers to cutlery.
  • Sandwiches continue to be a favorite on the Australian cafe scene and will continue to grow moving into the future. The focus is now on finding new things to put inside the sandwich and using global inspiration. Some examples include the Thai fillings at Boon Cafe in Sydney, the Japanese-inspired sandos at Sando Bar, Surry Hills, and mixed cold cuts at Big Dog Deli in Melbourne.
  • Some broader restaurant and food trends in Australia that will affect cafes as well include the rise of true neighborhood dining, phones being out at the table (the better to scan QR codes in the time of COVID), and the rise of foodie collaboration. These trends are also driven heavily by the impact of COVID-19 and are likely to remain just as important moving forward.
  • According to City of Sydney independent councilor Jess Miller, while the central business districts might be quiet, it's really neighborhoods that are thriving. He says, "I'm not at all flat about the future... While the CBD has quietened considerably, my observation is that the suburban villages are pumping. Local coffee shops, local restaurants, high streets – particularly butchers, grocers, and independent outlets – seem to be doing very well...My observation is the [venues] that have been first to experiment and have already invested in their community have been the ones that are doing really well."
  • This is especially because people working from home are now flocking to suburban cafes and coffee shops rather than those in the CBD.
  • QR codes as a way to peruse the menu, order food, split the bill have grown exponentially because of the new safety concerns around COVID-19. At The Grounds of Alexandria in Sydney, a top cafe, 60% of sales are now processed through QR code.
  • Capitano Pizzeria has found that $40-$50 is a sweet spot for diners to spend now, as it doesn't require people to dig too deep into their finances to have a good time (especially given that the pandemic has stoked financial worries for many) but still enjoy their time out.
  • Surprisingly, even after things have begun to open up, restaurant or cafe delivery remains popular. Providoor reinvents the delivery model by bringing together several of Victoria's greatest eateries to deliver food that stays in its best condition. Rather than having fully-cooked food deteriorate on its way to the consumer in the delivery bag, the food is specifically prepared by chefs to be finished (heated, plated, and served) at the consumer's home so it's served in top condition. All deliveries are handled by Providoor staff in refrigerated vans. Providoor is planning to expand to Sydney, Brisbane, and the rest of Australia.