New Zealand’s Coffee Love Story

Flat white, long black, tall, strong, milky, sweet – it doesn’t matter how you take it, one thing we can all agree on is that we love our coffee.

The New Zealand coffee industry is large, with cafes and roasters all over the country. And coffee lovers are very selective about their ideal cup, giving baristas and businesses the challenge of using extra skill, flair and imagination to create a flawless blend for their caffeine craving customers.

With more coffee roasters per capita than any country in the world, coffee culture in New Zealand is HUGE. And we have plenty of reasons to be proud of this as we sip our long blacks in the morning. Not only are our coffees delicious, innovative Kiwis and the hunt for the perfect cup has reconstructed the coffee bean and resulted in the creation of the flat white (although don’t expect the Aussies to agree) and the world’s first instant coffee.

So whether you’re on a work-break, a busy mum taking quick, well-needed sips at home or on a night shift trying to stay awake, everyone has their own favourite style, time and place to enjoy an aromatic cup of coffee.

Coffee, Coffee, Everywhere

For Kiwis the place you buy your daily fix is almost as important as the coffee itself. A coffee stop can range from small units just big enough for an espresso machine to big luxurious cafe and restaurant spaces that encourage you to sit back and take your time. Despite the popularity of tourist favourite Starbucks, Kiwis are staunch supporters of locally run establishments, looking to build a relationship with the places and people that supply your daily fix.

Maybe your coffee break is at home, and the very first thing you do in the morning is turn on the espresso machine. This built in culture isn’t just about the taste (although that is a big deal!) it’s about taking time out for yourself or with others. Even new mothers are adding morning coffees with friends and a “fluffy” for the little ones to their daily routine. Alongside being the epicentre of social hour, it is common to see cafes full of workers typing away on their laptops with a long black cooling next to them – a little pick-me-up to help us through the day.

Flat White Debate

Oh how we love you Flat White! A coffee that consists of one-third espresso, two-thirds steamed milk, not frothed, leaving a velvety, creamy layer on top is the most popular coffee order in New Zealand and Australia, with both nations claiming to be its creator. Some say that in 1989 Wellington barista Fraser McInnes botched up a cappuccino when the milk refused the froth – serving it up as a “flat” white coffee. However, a Sydney cafe owner also claims to have invented the popular drink, sparking yet another debate added to our trans-Tasman rivalry.

Flat whites have also been a staple on coffee menus across the UK and USA since the 90s, with Starbucks adding it to their menu in 2015, controversially calling it an Australian coffee. Stronger than a latte and smoother than a cappuccino, no wonder it’s a hit across the globe – but, just like the pavlova dessert and Russell Crowe, maybe we will never agree on who truly lays claim to the flat white.

Making Sense of NZs Coffee Menu

There seems to be a limitless number of ways you can drink your coffee and there’s always bound to be something on the menu that you have never heard of before – that’s half the fun! But if you’d rather know exactly what you’re ordering here are some New Zealand coffee terms explained:

Skinny – Really want a milky coffee but wary of drinking too much of the full-fat stuff? Ask for a skinny or ‘trim’ milk, and magically receive a low-fat, low-guilt cup of heaven.

Fluffy – Called a babychino in other countries, a “fluffy” is a small cup of frothed milk, often served with chocolate sprinkles or marshmallows that is a massive hit for its target audience – the kids.

Piccolo Latte – A baby flat white! Equal measure coffee and frothed milk, it’s served in a little espresso cup and is perfect if you want a quick fix but you’re not ready for the extreme taste of a pure espresso.

New Zealand Coffee Facts

  • The first instant coffee was invented by David Strang, from Invacargill, in 1890.
  • Wellington has more cafes per capita than New York City.
  • Our coffee consumption is in the top 20 in the world, just ahead of the United States.
  • All NZ coffee starts with the same espresso shot – meaning you get the same amount of caffeine no matter what style you order.
  • The New Zealand Coffee Festival is held in Auckland every year in March.
  • Most takeaway coffee cups aren’t recyclable which is why NZ cafes encourage customers to bring their own recyclable cup (and often give discounts to those who do!)

So are you feeling low on energy or needing some time out? Sounds like the perfect excuse to turn on the coffee machine and indulge in that glorious first (or second, or third) cup of delicious coffee.

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