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Coffee shops abound in Wellington

If I can’t take my coffee break,
My coffee break, my coffee break . . .
If I can’t take my coffee break,
Gone is the sense of enterprise,
All gone, and something within me dies.

Coffee shops abound in Wellington

Wellington is besotted with coffee. There are coffee shops and cafes and houses all over town, often several in a block. Even at the small Wellington airport, there are at least three coffee shops in the main hall.

They’re a staple of the morning for the early caffeine junkie, complete with muffin or sweet. At lunch, for a panini or baguette with mince or veg. In the afternoon or evening, for a social hour, or two. Also, since they often serve wine or drinks as well, they’ll be busy into the night.

On a bright, warmish day they are thronged. This past Friday, we passed the Brooklyn Café, “bread and bagels” they promoted, off Tory Street near the yuppie market of Moore Wilson, a mini Whole Foods. All the outdoor tables were filled at 2pm and most of the inside ones as well. Similarly, Fidel’s, a popular café positioned appropriately on trendy Cuba Street is usually busy throughout the day. It is but one of a host of coffee shops around town evoking a Cuban theme, with names like Superfino or Havana, and emblems resembling cigar wrappers.

You will find a few Starbucks, and the lubriciously named Mr. Bun chain as well as café chains linked to coffee brands, like Mojo or Caffe l’Affare, like the Illy spots in Italy. However, most of the coffee houses are small, independent businesses thriving off the caffeine addicts in town. Down the street from us, a new unnamed coffee shop just opened in a block that was, oddly, missing one. It’s a cool contemporary place decked in bleached wood panels, but a coffee roaster stands toward the rear of the open room, set as if it was a wood stove around which you would gather and tell stories in the cold. Within two days of opening, its tables were filled whenever we passed.

Even roasting seems to be turning into a craft industry, like beer. We saw a garage business a few blocks from Cuba Street, where owners were offering coffee beans roasted right there in the garage.

It’s all very European, of course, as visitors to Paris and Rome will recognize, but the density of coffee places here seems far greater. The offerings differ a bit as well. Other than the usual Italianate variations such espressos, cappuccinos, macchiatos and so on, you can order a long black, which is akin to an American cup of coffee, for it includes a shot of espresso rounded out to a good sized cup with hot water. Or try the flat white, where steamed milk replaces the hot water.

Perhaps this love of coffee shops, if not coffee, explains why Wellingtonians seem to move so fast along the streets. They’re all jacked up on the brew they just finished, or perhaps racing off to get another fix as soon as possible.

Coffee, coffee everywhere,
And hear the china clink.
Coffee, coffee everywhere;
I’ll have muffins with my drink.

(For more pictures from New Zealand, CLICK HERE to view the slideshow at the end of the New Zealand itinerary page.)

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Alex

    Wait, where is that song from?

    1. Us

      The coffee break song is from the 60s Broadway musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” It’s a quick-witted satire of corporate culture and ladder-climbing in the age of “Mad Men.” The other verse, of course, is an adaptation of lines from Coleridge’s “Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner.”

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