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Kabell Mockbell and his coffee empire

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The story of Kabell Mockbell and the coffee empire that he built demonstrates how the biographies of individuals, and even the limited amount of knowledge gained from secondary sources, can expand an appreciation of the past and challenge popular preconceptions. Mockbell was a self-described ‘Egyptian Turk, of Arab parentage’ living in Sydney throughout the First World War, negotiating the challenges of allegiance to his ancestry and to his new home. He was part of a cosmopolitan community long before post-Second World War migration brought large numbers of Europeans to Australia and government policies encouraged multiculturalism. Despite the popular belief that today’s coffee culture owes its origins to the espresso bars of the 1950s, Mockbell should be acknowledged as a much earlier personage to bring the coffee shop to Sydney.
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Keywords: Australian; Kabell Mockbell; Mockbell’s; Sydney; coffee; coffee culture; immigration

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Central Queensland University

Publication date: September 1, 2018

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  • The Australasian Journal of Popular Culture is a double-blind peer-reviewed journal devoted to the scholarly understanding of everyday cultures. It is concerned with the study of the social and cultural meanings that are produced and circulated through everyday media and practices as products of consumption. It explores popular narratives and iconographies as intellectual objects of inquiry, and as integral components of the dynamic forces that shape societies and identities. The journal publishes articles that focus on Australasian examples, as well as broader critical and comparative topics viewed through a global lens.
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