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The Coffee Culture of New Zealand

NZ coffee culture insights
NZ coffee culture insights

New Zealand’s dedicated coffee culture

In the last couple of decades, New Zealand has undergone a coffee revolution as many Kiwis have become connoisseurs of their favoured black beverage.

The increased popularity of coffee has prompted a growth industry with new cafés and coffee roasting outlets springing up all over the country.

Coffee-making is also very competitive, with baristas vying to make the perfect cup of coffee and coffee drinkers becoming very selective in their choice.

Daily fix

New Zealand coffee connoisseurs will go a long way to get their daily caffeine fix, and favoured cafés can be anything from a ‘hole-in-the-wall’ or mobile outlet just big enough to accommodate a good coffee machine and its skilled operator to stylish venues with lounge-style seating serving gourmet treats and meals.

Children are generally welcome in New Zealand cafés with many offering toys, high chairs and a kids menu. Many young mothers partake in a daily ritual of meeting up with friends at their local café to chat over coffee while the children play or indulge in their own special Kiwi brew – a ‘fluffy’.

As well as social venues and places to catch up with friends, New Zealand cafés are used as corporate meeting rooms and offices with wireless connections turning downtime into uptime for business people and their laptop computers.

NZ coffee guide

New Zealand companies like Zest, which runs food and wine tours in Wellington and Dunedin, offer a personal guide to top cafés in their cities – helping visitors understand the myriad of choice.

Zest also offers a comprehensive explanation of New Zealand coffee terminology for coffee-lovers who want to get to grips with the local social scene.

A Wellington couple, who have compiled an extensive guide to the best coffee cafés in New Zealand, spent three years touring the country on a sampling mission.

Known as ‘The Coffee Lovers’, Ron and Paula have set up the newzealandcoffeeguide website listing the results of their independent survey and including a Google coffee map showing where to find the best cafés.

This introduction to the “land of the long flat white” also applauds New Zealand baristas who have consistently shown their passion and expertise scoring in the top ten at world competitions since 2002.

New Zealand has more roasters per capita than anywhere in the world, and The Coffee Lovers lay claim to the fact that Kiwi coffees are also the best in the world.

Background: NZ coffee guide

Zest Food Tours explain New Zealand coffee terms:

  • espresso / short black – basis for all coffee styles, espresso is full-flavoured, fragrant, with a velvety body and lingering after-taste; single serving in a demi-tasse (small cup)
  • macchiato – a single or double espresso shot, just stained with frothed milk
  • long black – single serving of espresso, with the same amount of hot water added; served in large cup filled to just under the top, or sometimes with the water provided separately
  • flat white – one third espresso, two thirds steamed milk with a touch of swirled froth
  • cappuccino – regular espresso with equal parts steamed milk and foam, sprinkled with chocolate or cinnamon
  • caffe latte – regular espresso, topped with hot milk and little or no froth
  • mochaccino – one third each of espresso, steamed milk, cocoa
  • ristretto – (‘restricted’) is 15-20ml of espresso, the essence of coffee
  • piccolo latte – miniature latte made with ristretto and 70ml of steamed milk; delicate flavoursome drink
  • affogato – espresso served over ice-cream
  • espresso Romano – espresso served with a twist of lemon
  • latte macchiato – steamed milk with espresso on the side
  • espresso con panna – espresso topped with a dash of whipped cream
  • cortado – Spanish version of the piccolo served in a 60ml demitasse cup
  • fluffy – for kids, a demi-tasse filled with foamed milk, sprinkled with chocolate and served with marshmallow on the side and a small chocolate fish.

Add to this the selection of vessel – cup, mug, bowl, glass; type of milk – full cream, regular, semi-skimmed, skimmed or skinny, soy; and number of shots, and you start to build a picture of the menu board in most New Zealand cafés.

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