The espresso scene in Auckland is pretty huge. Or should I say that Flat Whites are. Flat Whites are pretty much the equivalent of the North American Latte, and are definitely the most popular hot beverage out here. That being said, there are a ton of places serving espresso, but not necessarily good espresso. Almost any venue that serves food also serves espresso; we’ve seen many a sign for “Burgers and Coffee,” “Kebabs and Coffee,” and “Music and Coffee,” and I’m sure there’s got to be a “Donairs and Coffee” sign out there too. The Kiwis seem to love their coffee with… pretty much anything.
With the high volume of cafes, we have definitely had fun searching for the hidden gems of the coffee world in Auckland.
One we checked out recently was Ben. Ben is a small, trendy cafe on Fort Street in Auckland owned and operated by none other then Ben himself.
Ben even does the roasting too, all with this little Deitrich roaster.
Ben seemed like a great guy, and served Brendon a satisfying espresso with notes of intense dark chocolate and toasted nut, along with a cold tottie which was extracted over 3 days. Thanks, Ben!
Breno has already started to get connected in the coffee scene here, and I am proud of him for being so bold and eager to make connections and get to know people in this industry.
Here’s Brendon with some words on the coffee scene in NZ, as well as on the Barista Jam:
Talking coffee with coffee people is a great time! I don’t fully understand it but I think it has something to do with a level of common understanding, and passion for the glorious bean or something.
I was invited by Auckland’s reigning top barista (David Huang of Espresso Workshop) to come out to Center of Gravity Coffee Bar for a jam of sorts of some of the city’s top baristas.
We were joined by Andrew Pearson who is the head trainer for one of the largest specialty roasters in the country that supplies many shops. Robot, Dingo, and Sam were hanging out as well. After the introductions were made, I found out that nearly all of them are preparing to compete at the upcoming Regionals next month, and they wanted to make gatherings such as this a more regular occurrence to practice, throw out ideas, and get feedback from one another. Center of Gravity had two four-group La Cimbali espresso machines, and was a pretty sweet basement coffee set up.
Talking to these guys made me realize a few things: First was that Transcend has trained me with knowledge and skills to be able to relate and input my opinion with some amazing baristas from over here. Second is that specialty coffee in North America has a broader use and maybe therefore a broader appreciation of Coffee. Let me explain this. NZ is all about espresso, using coffee for other brew methods is an afterthought. Also with talking to these guys the customer here orders flat whites as mel mentioned above. A few people order espresso (short black) or americano’s (long black), but even most of the baristas in Auckland drink flat whites. I have only found one cafe that will serve syphon (BEN) and one allpress location with a pour over station, but other than that there is no demand for is so there is no cafe’s that seek to do it or do master it. This 20 years of drinking flat whites in the NZ coffee industry is frustrating to David who wants to branch out and educate his customers that coffee can be amazing if prepared correctly without any milk in it at all. He also knows that there are certain coffee that doesn’t shine as an espresso, but that doesnt mean it isnt good coffee, just that it should be prepared in another way.
By having this conversation with these guys it made me realize that even though there is a wider appreciation for coffee here in NZ there may be deeper appreciation by those people who drink all brew methods of coffee. Anyways just initial thoughts and I will have to keep getting connected to see if this truly is that case, but i sure could go for a clover of the gayo about now!