The small city of Wellington boasts an incredible number of cafe’s when you look at the population. Just about everywhere you cast your eyes there’s somewhere to grab a coffee. Good coffee. One thing for certain, on the few visits I’ve had to the windy city, is that I’ve seldom had a bad coffee. I may be generalising a tad, but they seem to know their stuff.
Following a few days in Mount Maunganui, we landed in Wellington and grabbed a hire car from the airport. First stop. Breakfast. I knew of a good place, and thanks to it being in close proximity to the airport, it was time for the eating and coffee-drinking to commence.
The Larder is a homely neighbourhood restaurant that not only makes a fine coffee, but the breakfast hits all the right places. Twice cooked goat’s cheese and gruyere soufflé with truffle oil (17), anyone? It wasn’t mine, but the mother-in-law insisted I try some. And I’m glad I did. Sensational.
Brekkie for me was the croque madame (17), crowned with an egg spilling its glorious innards onto the plate. The other half tries some buttermilk crêpes with baked rhubarb, vanilla poached pears and a citrus yoghurt. Now that’s what I call a good start to the day.
Down by the waterfront is one of many Mojo coffee outlets that can be found peppered across town, and the country. The beans are roasted locally; opposite this outlet, actually. There’s food available as well. Some sandwiches, pizza’s, cakes and that classic Kiwi confection – lolly cake.
A minute’s walk from where we were staying is this popular place on College Street. Caffe L’affare seems to sprawl beneath the building in which it resides. They’ve been going strong for over a decade, sharing the industrial space with an equipment showroom and packaging plant, roaster and place to buy the beans. The menu covers breakfast and all your usual lunch suspects.
Breakfast was why we were there. Some great coffee alongside a kick-starting bacon & egg bagel (9.5).
Down on beautiful Oriental Parade is this little retro joint that’s not only a cafe, but a bar and somewhere to get your pooch in on the culinary action as well. Pea & ham gazpacho, deluxe mince, frozen “pupsicle” treats, anyone?
Beach Babylon’s regular human menu has the likes of steak, burgers, salads and even fondue. No food for us, though, as it was a piccolo latte that we were craving. It was ok.
This match box-of-a-place was something we happened to have walked past, looked at one another, then did a u-turn and stuck our noses in. Punch Coffee Bar is nothing more than a bunker-like hole in the wall. A small counter, an espresso machine and two tables out the front. The macchiato was one serious piece of work. Excellente!
These guys mean serious business when it comes to the bean. Havana Coffee Works skipped traditional roasting methods and went for a fluid bed hot air roaster, a device that cooks the beans more evenly.
Not only can you sit in the cafe and sip java, but there’s a whole lot of stuff to buy. Plungers, grinders, machines, merchandise and, of course, the beans they roast onsite.
I kinda liked the look and sound of this place. Olive. Cute name with cute surroundings. We were here for brekkie; scrambled eggs with bacon & toast (15) and pancakes with bacon & maple syrup (15). The food was decent enough, as was the coffee, but the whacky (and irritating) new age organ “music” coming from the speakers was enough to have us shove the food down our throats and get out of there.
The attraction here was, firstly, the hole-in-the-wall location and, secondly, a pair of young hipsters manning the bunker. These guys looked like they had it going in the coffee department. Two chairs on the footpath, a retro formica side table, and two middle-aged non-hipsters getting in on the coffee action. That would be me and the other half. The coffee here is pretty special and I wished we didn’t leave it until the last morning to give it a go. Find it opposite the bus stop.
A little out of the centre, out near the airport, is this small neighbourhood cafe in Strathmore. Gypsy Kitchen serves as a deli and mini grocer, as well as a place to kick back and tuck into some homemade organic food. We got as far as a macchiato and piccolo and a superb rhubarb & caramel scone (3.8). I need the recipe for those scones!
Back in town, I thought this place would be a good spot to take a load off for a few minutes. I didn’t even look at the regular menu but I could tell they did breakfast, lunch and dinner. No food for us, though. It was all about the macchiato and piccolo latte. The macchiato was actually perfection. Short pour, tiny bit of milk and a seriously gutsy bean.
Another breakfast brought us to the iconic Floriditas. I never quite made on my previous Wellington visit, and I’m glad we dropped by this time around as the scrambled eggs with hot smoked salmon & lemon (17.5) was superb. The creamy eggs were the absolute star. Sadly the coffees didn’t generate the same excitement. Two flat whites. Weaker than a cafe latte. Not great at all.
Back to Mojo, it was down on the corner of Wakefield and Taranaki that we had our last coffees before hitting the airport to head home. Once again it’s all pretty good, even if the macchiato was a little too foamy. Still, it’s a pretty good bean.
The coffees didn’t end at Mojo. At the airport is Fuel Espresso, a place I first tried in Hong Kong, of all places. It may be an airport cafe and it may only serve coffee in takeaway cups, but it’s what’s in those cups that’s magic. Beautiful piccolo latte and a view onto the planes.
Mojo has its fingers all over town, and the airport hasn’t escaped those coffee-scented digits. Theres one in the Domestic Terminal and another in The Rock, on the International side. Aside from The Rock being a designer geometric structure, Mojo takes pride of place within it.
Another macchiato. Not that I needed anymore caffeine, as I was already flying on about three cups of coffee. This one was made better than the one down on Wakefield. But for now, it was time to head home.