Guide to New Zealand’s Coffee Culture

Coffee has been in New Zealand since Europeans first arrived, but being so far away from everywhere we had to get a little inventive.

Fun New Zealand coffee facts

• Our capital city, Wellington, has more cafés per capita than New York City.
• The method of making espresso results in a stronger coffee with bolder flavours than drip coffee – this can offer a real kick for anyone unaccustomed to drinking espresso, be warned!
• Reusable cups are encouraged in New Zealand, with most takeaway cups globally unable to be recycled.
• Per capita, our coffee consumption rate is in the top 20 in the world, just ahead of the USA.
• New Zealand has a coffee festival, held in Auckland during March every year.
• Latte art has found a foothold across the globe with creative baristas showcasing their skills. New Zealand loves the fern design, to represent the iconic Silver Fern.

What constitutes a great coffee?

Coffee is subjective and as such, if it tastes great to you, it’s a great coffee.  It should taste like coffee; fresh and aromatic, like it came from a bean off a tree. If your coffee tastes burnt, it probably is, likewise, if your coffee tastes stale. Everything else is to the taste of the individual, so don’t let the self-professed coffee connoisseurs tell you your favourite brew is no good – if you love it, that’s all that matters.

The world famous Flat White

Just like the Pavlova dessert, there are arguments between Australia and New Zealand regarding who invented the Flat White – nothing like a little trans-Tasman rivalry to get the blood pumping.

With arguments and ‘proof’ on both sides, it’s hard to decide. Regardless of the origin, the Flat White continues to be a fan favourite in New Zealand. Offering up a drink that is stronger than a latte and smoother than a cappuccino, this middle ground is what has made it so incredibly popular both in Australia and New Zealand, as well as across the globe.

How to fit in – the social situation

These days, busy workers in cities throughout New Zealand throng to cafés lining the streets to get their caffeine fix. This is a very social occasion, catching up with friends or co-workers and as such the idea of Wi-Fi in a café hasn’t caught on here, it’s more of an afterthought. Maybe it’s time to strike up a conversation with that stranger next to you. 

So, if you want to jump right into New Zealand’s café culture, there are a few things that you need to remember:

• You won't find drip coffee here
• Cafés are a great place to make new friends
• Bring your reusable cup (optional, but smiled upon)
• The only place you will get a triple, venti, half-sweet, non-fat, caramel macchiato is Starbucks (they sell flat whites there too – just saying, you’ve got options!)

So, if you plan to travel to New Zealand or are already here, head down to a local café and enjoy a delicious cup of coffee, and soak up the relaxed and social nature of our Kiwi Coffee Culture.

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