December 10, 2019

A Specialty Coffee Shop Tour of Wellington, New Zealand

Tucked away at the bottom of the Southern Hemisphere is the windy city of Te Whanga-nui-a-Tara, also known as Wellington. This New Zealand capital is known for its diverse population (almost a third of its residents hail from overseas), vibrant cultural scene, and of course – its coffee. 

As the island’s unofficial coffee capital, Wellington has embraced the specialty coffee scene with enthusiasm. In fact, its number of cafés and restaurants rival that of New York on a per person basis.

If you ever find yourself in this corner of the world, you’ll want to experience its coffee scene for yourself. Start by visiting these five specialty shops to get a taste of what the great harbour of Tara has to offer. 

Lee este artículo en español Un Recorrido Por Las Tiendas de Café de Wellington, Nueva Zelanda

A night-time view of the Wellington skyline, overlooking the bay.

Why These Five?

Despite its relatively small size, Wellington offers wealth of coffee shops to explore. Because of the sheer number of places present, there are no doubt several worth visiting that aren’t on this list. The five below are a general representation of what you can expect from the local coffee scene. Of course, there’s no need to stop once you get to the end of the list.

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Enjoy a cup of coffee while people watching at New Chapter Coffee Brewers. Credit: Anthony Bull

1. New Chapter Coffee Brewers

On the edge of Wellington’s Central Business District, you’ll find New Chapter Coffee Brewers. It was founded by Long Nguyen, who is a past New Zealand Barista Championship competitor and judge. The coffee shop was purposefully set up near the Wellington train station, so that it could offer coffee to those leaving for work and those working in the port. 

In addition to offering specialty coffee, New Chapter is dedicated to social responsibility. It has auctioned off equipment to benefit organisations like the Sailability Wellington Trust and donated a day of profits to the Child Cancer Foundation.

Visitors can also play their part by forgoing a takeaway coffee cup for a branded, reusable one – which they’ll keep for you in store so you never have to lug it around.

Where5 Bunny Street, Wellington (opposite the Wellington Railway Station)
AtmosphereModern and cool
Espresso MachineLa Marzocco
GrinderMahlkönig EK43S, Victoria Arduino
Coffee OfferingsEspresso-based drinks, hand-poured filter, cold brew, and seasonal cold brew soda. Espresso coffee by Rocket Coffee, as well as revolving filter coffee by Rocket Coffee, Coffee Supreme, Vanguard Specialty Coffee, and others
Must-Try DrinkTry a V60 coffee prepared two different ways. Here, a single Guatemalan coffee is prepared by two different roasters. The precision of the V60 means you’ll be able to taste the difference between the two
Food & Other DrinksLunch options include croissants, bagels, ciabattas, and sandwiches. You can also try raw energy salads, pasta, danishes, or scones. Drinks include juice, kombucha, tea, and Wellington’s own Six Barrel Soda
Nearby SightsVisit New Zealand’s Parliament Buildings as well as New Zealand’s founding documents at the National Library of New Zealand. You can also hire an electric scooter and take a ride along the waterfront

Mojo Origins’ famous steampunk filter machine. Credit: Anthony Bull

2. Mojo Origins

Mojo Coffee has been on the scene in Wellington for over 16 years, with 20 locations in Wellington and 15 in Auckland. They’re known for their excellent coffee, and for being one of the most experienced independent coffee roasters and café operators in the region. 

A prominent in-house air roaster and steampunk filter brewing system dominates their Lambton Quay café and locals are constantly dropping by to spend time there. This is thanks in part to a smartphone app offering frequent customers 10% off hot drinks and beans purchased in a visit.

Visit this striped back space and you’ll be able to interact one on one with the baristas, who are incredibly welcoming and knowledgeable on all matters coffee-related. You can also hire out a coffee cart or caravan for a personal celebration and event.

Where180 Lambton Quay, Wellington
AtmosphereFriendly and entertaining
Espresso MachineSynesso MVP
GrinderMahlkönig EK43S, Victoria Arduino
Coffee OfferingsEspresso-based drinks, single origin espresso, and a range of single origin filter coffee
Must-Try DrinkAsk for your drink to be prepared on the Alpha Dominche Steampunk coffee machine, which highlights the acidity and clarity in naturally processed coffees
Retail OfferingsPurchase freshly roasted single origin beans or signature espresso blends such as Dr Mojo’s Medicine. Other items for sale including Moccamasters, grinders (including the Baratza Virtuoso), Stagg pouring kettles, Delter Presses, brew scales, reusable cups, and books
Food & Other DrinksGinger or chocolate mini-cakes and salted caramel and peanut butter snack bars. Drinks include Zealong organic tea and hot chocolate
Nearby SightsVisit Wellington’s Golden Mile and explore its main shopping district. Walk along Lambton Quay, where you can catch a cable car up to the Wellington Botanical Gardens for an aerial view of the city

Customers observe the siphon at Lamason Brew Bar. Credit: Anthony Bull

3. Lamason Brew Bar 

Lamason Brew Bar proves that it’s possible for baristas to take the art of brewing coffee seriously, while still having fun with it. Witnessing its siphon bulb coffee maker in action is enough to entertain you while you wait for your drink of choice to be prepared.

Despite offering this unique method of brewing coffee and a variety of roasts to explore, Lamasons isn’t a reserved for coffee experts or connoisseurs. Its environment draws a mixture of corporate workers, young students, and artistic types – all of whom are drawn to its friendly approach to coffee making. 

Lamason might be located in an industrial space underneath a parking building, but it’s anything but cold and uninviting. The baristas are easygoing, while still caring about their craft and customer service.

WhereCorner of Lombard Lane and Bond Street, Te Aro, Wellington
AtmosphereWarm and inviting
Espresso MachineLa San Marco
GrinderSimonelli, Mini Mazzer
Coffee OfferingsEspresso-based drinks, cold flat whites, and cold drip. You can also order espresso coffee and six different single origins for siphon or V60 
Must-Try DrinkWhichever drink you order, you can sit at the bar and watch as its prepared with a siphon bulb coffee maker
Retail OfferingsFreshly roasted, single origin beans
Food & Other DrinksToasted sandwiches, Lamason’s famous cheese scones, giant cookies, and locally made doughnuts on Fridays. You can also order Six-Barrel Soda, kombucha, and cold pressed juices
Nearby SightsVisit the nearby City Gallery and take in an exhibition or art event

The Grey Marble is a must-try drink at Pour and Twist. Credit: Anthony Bull

4. Pour and Twist

Pour and Twist operates the first fully manual coffee brew bar in New Zealand, and while they might not serve traditional espresso-based coffee, they’re still hugely popular with customers looking to slow down and enjoy a drink.

By offering a warm welcome to everyone who walks in the door and constantly coming up with interesting coffee-based drinks for customers, they’ve developed a loyal following in just two years. 

At Pour and Twist, you’ll find every type of brewer and grinder imaginable, as they’ve experimented with them all. You’ll also be surprised with what coffee is on offer, as it can range from a honey processed Guatemalan to a Colombian washed. 

Where13 Garrett Street, Te Aro, Wellington
AtmosphereCalm and relaxed
Espresso MachineNone!
GrinderMahlkönig EK43 and other hand grinders
Coffee OfferingsV60, Kalita Wave, Origami, AeroPress, Chemex, and plunger. You can order a revolving range of single origin beans from Rocket Coffee, Vanguard Speciality Coffee, Silverskin Coffee, First Hand Coffee, and others
Must-Try DrinkTry the Grey Marble (activated charcoal powder, coffee, maple cream, and milk over ice) or Coffee Tonic (AeroPress coffee served over iced tonic water)
Retail OfferingsFreshly roasted beans from a variety of local roasters
Food & Other DrinksMini-cakes (carrot, double chocolate, and lemon sour), doughnuts (vegan chocolate custard, vegan caramello custard, and matcha chocolate), scones, and Neenish tarts. Drinks include sodas and hot and cold tea
Nearby SightsTake a stroll down Cuba Street and visit the Bucket Fountain at Cuba Mall

The Moccamaster in action at Rich Coffee Roasters. Credit: Anthony Bull

5. Rich Coffee Roasters

Rich Coffee Roasters is a small roasting business that opens its doors to the public every Saturday. While you can sit inside the premises and have a coffee, the fun lies in standing around chatting to the roasters and visitors who pop by to visit throughout the day.

Co-founded by Cameron McClure (who also founded Flat White in London), Rich Coffee Roasters offers beans to both individuals and businesses. They also sometimes hold tasting and cupping sessions to help customers broaden their understanding of coffee.

With a unique range of coffees on offer, you’re sure to find at least one thing you haven’t tried before – be it a Rafael Amaya Extended Fermentation Washed Process or even cascara.

WhereUnit 27/369, Adelaide Road, Berhampore, Wellington (Saturdays 9 am – 3 pm)
AtmosphereExciting and invigorating
Espresso MachineLa Marzocco 
GrinderMahlkönig EK43, Simonelli Mythos
Coffee OfferingsEspresso-based drinks, Moccamaster batch brew, and cold brew
Must-Try DrinkCold Brew (using the Toddy Cold Brew Coffee Maker)
Retail OfferingsSingle origin and single espresso coffee beans are roasted and sold on site
Food & Other DrinksCascara tea (when available) and a variety of juices
Nearby SightsVisit Newtown, which is just down the hill from Rich Coffee Roasters. Here you’ll find the Wellington Zoo and Newtown Park, where various professional sports team practice

Wellington is an easy city to get around, whether you’re travelling on foot, scooter, car, or via public transport. This will make the above specialty coffee shops – and any others you find – a breeze to visit.

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Featured photo: An aerial view of Wellington’s Oriental Bay.

All views within this opinion piece belong to the guest writer, who is a Wellington local, and do not reflect Perfect Daily Grind’s stance.

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