Coffee capital of the world
Wellington is a city where most things in life happen over a locally roasted, freshly brewed cup of coffee – served double shot as standard, always.
Peoples Coffee founder Matt Lamason points to an Italian espresso machine and a barista churning out a run of coffees in a Wellington cafe and says: “Imagine our city without these!’’
Wellingtonians are all about coffee. The capital is fueled by an estimated 40-odd roasteries which roast and grind beans for cafes here and around New Zealand. It’s no surprise that Wellington is New Zealand’s coffee capital - those in the industry point to its weather, bohemian culture, and the compact city which makes it easy to get around. Wellingtonians like to chew the fat about politics and burning social issues over a flat white.
The city has about 850 cafes and restaurants - more per capita than New York City - and every one of them as a coffee machine
The first decent coffee was in fact made in Wellington in the late 1980s, when Geoff Marsland and his friend, Tim Rose, returned home from a trip to Vancouver with an espresso machine. Geoff was 22 when he and Tim set up Midnight Espresso on Cuba Street, followed by Deluxe Cafe, and the duo began roasting their own beans in 1990 under the Havana brand. Back then, Wellingtonian’s coffee of choice was a cappuccino or a specialty coffee in the evening. “When we opened Midnight, there were only four coffee roasters in Wellington. We were known for our specialty coffees back then, because the pubs stopped serving at 10pm and everyone came in for a specialty coffee and a game of pinball.’’
The art of making coffee has become more technical over the decades, and a variety of coffees are now being made, from standard flat whites, to siphon, Chemex and Aeropress coffees and cold brews.
About 30 years since they started, Midnight Espresso still whips up coffees, and Havana - now owned by Lion Breweries - operates a roastery a few blocks away. Havana sources coffee beans that Geoff describes as "beautiful rebel and organic coffees that are ethically traded". Geoff - who has travelled extensively to source coffee and also for pleasure - says that combined with what he describes as the best milk, Wellington has the best coffee in the world. Now the international brand ambassador for Havana, the coffee baron says: "It doesn’t matter what day of the week or what the weather is doing – Wellingtonians are out in cafés, getting together and drinking coffee."
Wellington is one of those places where you literally wake up and smell the coffee
Ute Junker, Traveller Australia