Long ago, you switched up your regular coffee order from lattes to flat whites. Sure, at first, you just wanted to sound cool. But soon enough, you came to appreciate the subtle texture of your order — halfway between a cappuccino and a latte, when made right. You probably think you have the Australians to thank, given their excellent coffee and avid promulgation of the flat white gospel. But as legend has it, the flat white was invented in Auckland, New Zealand.
As the ex-owner of a now-defunct café used to tell it, DKD Espresso, which has since abandoned its retail location in order to focus on craft roasting, made the first flat white. Whether that is true or not, the fact remains that Aucklanders know from making — and drinking — coffee. The flat white, creamy rather than foamy, with optional art, is ubiquitous in New Zealand. The straightforward-sounding name means even the gruffest red-blooded Antipodean male can order it without feeling “like a total ponce.” Same goes for the short or long black (like an Americano, with one or two espresso shots, respectively.)
So, where to sip flat whites and long blacks and all the other caffeinated wonders of Auckland? Check out these five hot coffee bars:
Founded in 2007, this craft roaster based in the suburb of Parnell has recently expanded to the newly revamped Britomart shopping district in the city center. Its baristas, some of the most skilled you’re likely to encounter, have won regional awards every year since 2009. The Britomart shop is sleek and spartan, done up in steel and wood. The flat white here is as good as it gets, velvety and rich, without a hint of bitterness. It stays open maybe 30 minutes later than your average Auckland coffee bar, which tends to close at 4 PM on the dot, which is good news if you’ve just shopped your heart out and need a pick-me-up come end of day. 11 Britomart Place, +64 9-302 3691
ME Coffee Boutique
As the name suggests, this is a boutique coffee bar to the core. Opened in 2009 by a barista and his java-loving partner, it serves and sells beans roasted locally by Merito. You can order your coffee brewed in one of several different ways here, including by V60 pour over or siphon. The tiny shop can get rather busy, especially seeing as until recently it was one of the only truly great indie coffee shops in the immediate vicinity. Now that Espresso Workshop has moved in around the corner, some of the pressure is sure to come off. 72 Albert Street, +64 9-379 7505
It may be badmouthed by young barista bucks hating on the establishment, but this sizeable chain certainly deserves its share of credit for the current local coffee scene. It was started by a Kiwi who cut his teeth slinging ’spros out of a couple mobile coffee carts back when most folks didn’t know their single origins from a hole in the ground, and now has locations around Australasia and as far as London. The best part? You might think the name is some reference to a French press or even tamping down an espresso shot, but no. It’s the founder’s name: Michael Allpress. Various locations.
Formerly known as Good One, this stripped-down and whitewashed industrial space has always served Wellington-based Supreme beans and is now the prolific roaster’s official Auckland headquarters. It’s located just off pleasantly yuppified Ponsonby Road, itself strewn with cafés and designer shops. Coffee Supreme features a brew bar, where you can get your single-origin coffee done by Chemex, Hario V60 pour over, or Swiss Gold. The espresso machine is a Slayer. 42 Douglas Street, +64 9-360 5040
Love Shack by Matakana Coffee Roasters
One of the sweetest little day trips you can take in Auckland is out to Matakana, the city’s answer to the Hamptons. A popular Saturday excursion for the locals is to hit the farmer’s market there. A total of 43 stalls peddle everything from buffalo milk cheese to locally produced olive oil. The one stall that offers a dose of caffeination is Love Shack, by the team behind Matakana Coffee Roasters. Coffees include organic and fair-trade blends, plus there are baked goods for dunking. Just what you need as you peruse fresh blueberries and free-range eggs. 2 Matakana Valley Road, +64 21-644 337
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