The Perfect Blend: coffee strengthening Sri Lanka – Australia relations

March 14, 2022

Coffee  and friends make the perfect blend. Today, we celebrate Sri Lanka’s  500-year-old heritage in coffee production and Australia’s booming coffee culture  that is bringing the two countries together. For the last five years,  Australia’s Market Development Facility (MDF) has been working with the Sri  Lankan coffee industry to increase quality and supply to create global  recognition for the Sri Lankan specialty coffee industry. This year, as we  celebrate the 75th anniversary of Australia-Sri Lanka relations,  MDF is preparing to create a market for Sri Lanka’s special blend in  Australia by showcasing Sri Lankan specialty coffee at the Melbourne  International Coffee Expo.

Much  like the relationship between the barista who hands you your favourite cup of  coffee and the coffee fanatic who indulges in the most perfect blends,  Australia and Sri Lanka’s coffee cultures are perfect complements to one  another. One a producer with a long history in production, and the other a consumer  market worth over USD 2 Billion.

Australia  is one of the largest coffee consuming countries in the world, boasting a  vibrant coffee culture and a café industry that is a strong part of the  country’s cultural identity. The annual  domestic coffee consumption in Australia totalled more than 1.9  million 60-kilogram bags in 2020. However, Australia is not a  major coffee producing country - much of Australia’s coffee come through  imports.

Sri Lanka on the other  hand, was the world’s third largest exporter of coffee in the 1800s, recording an export of 2 million pounds of green beans, before the coffee  leaf rust disease wiped out the country’s plantations (learn more on MDF Coffee website). Coffee is now making a gradual comeback, presenting a huge potential for Sri Lanka to make its mark in the Australian market.

The Melbourne  International Coffee Expo, the largest coffee event in the Asia Pacific  attracts over 11,000 café owners, roasters, equipment manufacturers,  suppliers, and consumers every year. The event provides the ideal backdrop to  re-introduce Sri Lanka as an emerging coffee destination and display the  island’s distinct coffee flavours.

Through the  International Coffee Expo, Sri Lanka will have the opportunity to participate  and benefit from the growing Australian consumer market, initiate new  partnerships, create market linkages, and identify lucrative business  opportunities.

The event also  presents a great opportunity for Australian coffee lovers to encounter  emerging Sri Lankan flavours and broaden their flavour profiles.

As consumers in  Australia are enthusiastically looking for sustainably produced, high-quality  coffee where benefits of their purchase trickle down to the bottom most part  of the value chain, authentic ‘Ceylon Coffee’ stands to benefit both  countries.

Authentic  Sri Lankan flavours are sure to win the Australian market at the Melbourne  International Coffee Expo, reuniting coffee lovers in the two nations,  strengthening Sri Lanka-Australia relations for years to come.

MDF sees Sri Lanka’s  ‘specialty coffee’ segment as a sector that offers greater value for  smallholder farmers. Nearly 80 per cent of specialty coffee produced in Sri  Lanka originates from smallholder farmers and backyard farmers, who are  mostly women. This system of smallholder production of Sri Lankan coffee  positions it well to take advantage of the growing demand for quality and  diversity in the global market, while benefiting poor men and women. In  partnership with the Sri Lankan specialty coffee industry, MDF hopes to  facilitate mutually beneficial business opportunities for Australia and Sri  Lanka through the Melbourne International Coffee Expo.