22 November 2016

Wellington coffee culture

Theresa Sila Wikaningtyas
Master of Development Studies student

I have a soft spot for quirky little cafes and good coffee, so falling in love with this city was easy.

Before I came to study in Wellington, part of my preparation was to research what the city has to offer.

Yes, I came here to study, but I also wanted to make the most of my time here. Apart from the beautiful hilly trails to run on and the vibrant art scene, I also found out that Wellington is host to many unique local cafes with its own rich coffee culture.

I have a soft spot for quirky little cafes and good coffee, so falling in love with this city was easy, even before I came to Wellington!

Wellington's History

According to NZHistory.net.nz Wellington's coffee culture has a long history dating back to the 1930’s when milk bars started to sprawl around the city, followed by the opening of coffee houses in the 1950’s. Today, you can find at least one coffee shop on almost every corner of the city, sometimes even in a secluded alley where you least expect it! Rumour has it that Wellington has more cafes per capita than New York City! I don’t actually know whether this is true, but let’s assume it is.

Quality Coffee

However, it’s not just about being able to get yourself a coffee easily around the city. It’s also about getting good quality coffee that comes with great service. Firstly, Wellingtonians like their coffee strong, so, it is common knowledge that by default you will get double shots of espresso in your flat white or latte. You have to specifically ask your barista for a single shot if you’re not into strong coffee.

Friendly Service

Secondly, no matter how busy the café is, you are guaranteed to get friendly service from your barista. Once, I ordered a flat white at Red Rabbit and the barista accidentally spilled a bit of the coffee onto the saucer just as she was handing it to me. I was actually fine with it, but she apologised and quickly made me a new cup.

Coffee Sourcing

Thirdly, many local coffee roasters such as Flight Coffee , People’s Coffee, and Ripe source their coffee beans directly from trusted coffee farmers (including Fair Trade coffee) around the world, ensuring that you not only get the best quality coffee, but you also know where your coffee came from. It is things like these that make up Wellington’s coffee culture.

Now, if you’re wondering which cafes to go to for your mandatory dose of caffeine, here are some of my personal favourites:

Leeds St Bakery

1. Chocolate Fish Cafe

Best for: Weekend brunch with family or friends. This is where I had my first taste of the Wellington coffee culture. They give you the namesake chocolate fish with your coffee.

2. Leeds St. Bakery

Best for: catching up with friends over a flat white. You must try their salted caramel cookie – it’s to die for!

3. Scorch-O-Rama

Best for: Weekend brunch with friends, especially in summer. Nothing beats sipping on a cuppa with the beach and scenic hills as your backdrop.

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About the contributors
Theresa Sila Wikaningtyas
Master of Development Studies student

Sila is a postgraduate student from Indonesia, currently studying for a Masters in Development Studies at Victoria University in Wellington. When not trying to conquer the challenges of postgraduate study, she enjoys cooking, taking photos and walking or running the trails on the Wellington hills.