Archaeologists working on the Metro Tunnel project discovered perfectly preserved coffee beans that date back more than 167 years, proving that Melbourne has long been the nation’s coffee capital.
The artifacts were found in 2018 by archaeologists who were excavating the old foundation of a grocery shop close to the location of the Young and Jacksons tavern on Swanston Street in Melbourne’s central business district.
When the John Connell general store burned down during the Gold Rush, more than 500 coffee beans, English biscuits, fruit remnants, and other perishables that would not have typically survived the test of time were saved.
The objects, according to excavation director Meg Goulding, have been carbonized and kept in a manner reminiscent to Pompeii, an ancient Roman city that was preserved by volcanic ash.
“This was just a general store that was servicing the gold fields at the time, he was there from the early 1850s, we know that the gold rush started in 1851.” she said.
Artefact manager Jennifer Porter said the beans were a “rare find. It’s such a rare sight to find such a rich assemblage of different types of artefacts,” she said.
The discovery of coffee beans, according to acting premier Jacinta Allan, shows that Melbourne’s well-known coffee culture dates all the way back to the 1850s.
“The discovery proving coffee has long been important to Melburnians,” she said.
“Remarkably, the coffee beans have been preserved and they are now part of the rare finds that we are uncovering as we get on and deliver the Metro Tunnel project.”
It`s now hoped all of these items, including the coffee beans, will be put on display for the public to see.