One aspect of New Zealand that I didn’t expect was the strong cafe culture. Kiwis love a “cuppa” and a chat with friends. New Zealand is so obsessed with the perfect cup of coffee, that there are more roasters per capita here than anywhere else in the world. Cafes aren’t far behind. Within a few minutes walk of my house, I have three excellent coffee options and, of course, I have a strong preference for The Store, which is the furthest away at a whopping 5 minute walk.
What makes the cafe culture so enticing:
Affordability: unlike at a Starbucks (of which I’ve seen one or two around) where a coffee costs you US$5 or $6 plus a tip, a coffee here will cost around NZ$4.5 (or US$3). And that is in Auckland where everything tends to be more expensive than the rest of the country.
Kid friendliness: Many cafes have a dedicated area for young children to play. They are stocked with new toys and books and are often gated off so kids can’t wander off. This means parents have the ability to entertain their kids and have an adult conversation. Win, win!
Every cafe will serve a child’s drink called a Fluffy. My kids are obsessed. We discovered them on our first reconnaissance mission to New Zealand and came back to the US asking baristas to make them. It’s simple and perfect: an espresso cup or small coffee cup of foamed milk topped with something sweet like a little sprinkle of cocoa or drizzle of chocolate sauce. On the side there is usually a marshmallow or two or some other sweet treat like a small piece of dark chocolate. The fluffy allows kids to feel included in the cafe experience and makes it more inclusive and a lot more fun for everyone involved!
Work/Life balance: Kiwis embrace the ability to relax with friends, to enjoy a cup of coffee and a scone, and to slow down. The cafes provide a common place to do that, and especially in Auckland where the houses tend to be small, it is nice to have an inexpensive option to meet and gather with friends.
In fact, I have to give a shout out to Sarah S. who contacted me after reading some of this blog prior to her move to Auckland. We just met up at a local coffee shop to meet in real life, and it was the perfect soul soothing place to get to know each other.
Everyone has their favorite cafes, but if you find yourself in Auckland and want to try some of mine, I love:
Governor Cafe: This spot is in Ponsonby, right on Jervois Road. It was the first cafe we stumbled in after leaving the airport on our first trip, and it is now our first stop every time we come back to Auckland from the US. The staff is welcoming, always remembers us, and makes the most delicious savoury scones. Bonus: this cafe was a filming location for a scene in the Real Housewives of Auckland.
The Store on Kohi: For a quick to-go coffee to enjoy right next to the beautiful Eastern Bay beaches, The Shop is the best place to go. Their cappuccino is spot on and one of my favorites ever. This is the takeaway location associated with the Kohimarama Cafe right around the corner, so if you want to sit and enjoy a full breakfast or lunch with an ocean view, you have that option as well.