This coffee tin is part of a collection of objects that document Repin's Coffee Inn on Market Street. Repin's coffee inns began in September 1930 when Ivan Repin (1888-1949) opened his first coffee inn at 152 King Street, Sydney. He arrived in Australia via Shanghai in 1925 after leaving Russia to escape the revolution. Repin's coffee inns were Art-Deco style cafes and were unique in charging for tea and coffee at a time when these beverages were generally free with the meal.
Repin's first coffee inn met with great success and many more were opened in the 1930s. Repin's success was the result of fast service, reasonable prices, good locations and excellent coffee. They pioneered the sale of coffee in Australia and became well-known city landmarks, frequented by office and shop workers, legal professionals, public servants and department store customers. In 1955 an article in Hotel and Cafe News said that, 'Repin ran his business on American lines-fast, clean service at a minimum price.'
Repin travelled to America in 1935-36 and 1938-39 to perfect his coffee blends. His 79 Castlereagh Street shop was the first to roast coffee at the shop entrance, the freshly ground beans were also sold to customers. Repin's pioneered the way for the Italian espresso bars that became popular after World War II. Since the war espresso coffee and cafes have become an identifying and dominant feature of Australia's urban culture. Their popularity is indicative of broad changes to Australian culture that have seen Anglo-centric practices give way to European influences, something that slowly began in the 1930s with Repin's coffee inns.
George Repin, correspondence with Powerhouse Museum Assistant Curator Rachel Dowling, 30 June 2007.
J. Laffin, 'The Repin Story', Hotel and Cafe News, April 1955, pp.12-15.
Nicola Teffer, Coffee Customs, exhibition brochure, Customs House Management, 2005.