A recent off-the-cuff comment - the day doesn't start until you've had your first coffee - got us thinking about New Zealand's coffee culture. In fact, it could really be described as New Zealand's coffee revolution. In the last couple of decades, New Zealanders have embraced coffee, and its significance has become ritual-like for many of us. So, coffee in hand, time to look into this a bit...
In true revolution style, good coffee options have taken up all over the country. There is a fine and expansive array of local coffee roasters throughout our islands.
Lovely local roasters
Driving a rural road, surrounded by green fields and farm animals, the gorgeous cream, red and pink of the Te Uku Roast Office is both hard to miss and quite a surprise. That you find this boutique roastery in the very small, but perfectly formed, Te Uku settlement deep in the Waikato speaks volumes. We take coffee seriously, everywhere.
And this lovely roastery, like ever so many boutique roasters throughout New Zealand, just has got it all right. It’s a classic spot - the old Te Uku Post Office has been converted to a coffee roasting operation. And so now, of course, the Roast Office. There’s the red telephone box outside, and the smell of the coffee roasting hits you as soon as you get out of the car. They make all manner of blends from beans from around the world, your cup will almost certainly be a multinational wonder. And, if it’s on the go while you’re there, you can check out the roaster spinning those beans around.
But it’s not only the Waikato that’s in such luck. We’ve seen clever artisans in every region we’ve been to, who apply their hand to boutique coffee roasting, and who deservedly enjoy fervent local support for their beans.
"Our" flat white… move over pavlova!
On to matters of heritage. Coffee houses have been around for centuries as places of, among other things, business - and no less so for us.
But this may cause a flash of mild surprise to cross your face… to hear that the origin of our famous flat white has been called into question.
There are credible claims to creation from both Auckland and Wellington - the flat white so named as a result of a failed cappucino effort.
But flat white provenance is also the matter of yet another trans-Tasman divide. Move over pavlova. A Sydney cafe also claims to have invented the term in the mid 80s...
Espresso or soft brew for you today?
In recent times our coffee fascination (or, perhaps, addiction?) has been espresso based. That is brewed quickly, under pressure, with a characteristic acidity and bitterness.
But coffee is not always hard and fast... There has been a recent resurgence of handmade slow (or soft) brewed methods - for instance by drip or filter, infusion or French press (plunger). It’s a noticeably different experience making for a gentler coffee, allowing the bean's own flavour characteristics to shine. And not, as some might worry, a return to the overbrewed and reheated filter coffee of decades gone by. (Phew!)
From start to finish
Aside from your morning kickstart, at the other end of the day coffee famously features in the dessert with decidedly Italian heritage, delicious tiramisu. Which, we’ve found out, means “pick me up”, perhaps even “cheer me up”.
So click here for a tiramisu-inspired New Zealand winter coffee dessert - a real simple one to put together after a day on the road. It’ll be sure to pick you up or cheer you up, whichever you fancy.
And for more…
For more on where to find some of the wonderful New Zealand coffee roasters, explore our North Island Food Travel Guide app - click here. In addition to coffee specialists, you’ll find delightful cafes, artisan producers, farmers markets, specialty grocers, and more…