Relax, bean fiends: you can find a great espresso – and a world-beating brunch – in Wellington!
There are few places that handle a roaring breakfast trade with such aplomb. Sure, they’re open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but it’s brunch that sees the beautiful Art Deco room in the heart of Wellington really swing. Deep scarlet banquettes run along the walls, and the place is packed. Crowd in around the little walnut tables and order up the likes of porridge with fresh cream and brown sugar, or Greek yoghurt layered with honeyed figs and toasted almonds. Around the room most people are hoeing into eggs benedict or scrambled eggs with smoked salmon. A mix of original white tiling and polished concrete with a long wooden bar gives Floriditas a brasserie feel, but unlike in Paris, the coffee is always excellent. This is a feelgood café and restaurant where you can get a hot lemon drink with fresh grated ginger if you’re feeling under the weather, or a glass of Pinot if you’re not. 161 Cuba St, Te Aro, Wellington.
Part café, part roastery, this Wellington institution has been caffeinating the windy city since 1990. They also run regular barista classes and sell their beans wholesale. Sunday breakfast sees a room filled with families occupying big round tables while kids play underfoot. Waiters speed around the busy room delivering the likes of ricotta hotcakes with banana, bacon and local maple syrup, poached eggs and ham and a whole lot of coffee. Later in the day there’s potted mackerel with cucumber relish. Or maybe just hit a straight-up steak sandwich. Wellington’s café culture is strong. It’s almost impossible to walk down the street without passing at least one cute café roasting their own beans. But Caffe L’affare was the first. Pay your respects on College Street and drink it at the source. 27 College St, Te Aro, Wellington.
You know, Cuba Street wasn’t named for the country: it was named for ship the SS Cuba. But that hasn’t stopped the good people of Wellington from taking the cigar and running with it. Up and down the street you’ll see venues with names like Havana, Floriditas, Fidels... you get the picture. And yet no one does a Cuban sandwich. Toasted pork and cheese sambos aside, Fidels is one of those cafés where you can always be guaranteed a good coffee, a decent brekky and a great time. There’s a courtyard out the back complete with camouflage netting overhead and a little ceramic water filter where customers are welcome to pour their own. Go for a breakfast burrito to keep you going all day, or maybe a date scone or a slice of rhubarb tart to get you through to lunch. 234 Cuba St, Te Aro, Wellington.
This one’s for the purists, the freaks and the nerds. Aeropress, Chemex, cold-drip and straight-up espressi are all available here, and a very small range of snacks. As you might have surmised, these guys are serious about their craft. Their house brand, Flight Coffee, is fair trade, so it’s ethical as well as toasty and rich. You can also try-and-see the coffee in a couple of bars around town including the Hawthorn Lounge, where they’re experimenting with cold-drip coffee methods in cocktails. Because it’s smack bang on Dixon Street, there’s a huge amount of foot traffic coming through. They’re here not only to slam down a cheeky macchiato (NZ serves ’em long and short – something we’ll never get used to) but also buying coffee to take home. It’s a sweet little spot and an absolute must if you’re a coffee geek. 38 Dixon St, Te Aro, Wellington.
There are few words to comfort a hungry punter at breakfast time more than ‘house-made crumpets’. Unless it’s ‘we’ve cured the hangover with this tiny pill.’ At Capitol, breakfast and brunch go beyond fried eggs and toast. Perfectly imperfect crumpets slathered in whipped butter and local honey with an excellent coffee and a side of bacon is pretty much everything you could wish for in one breakfast sitting. They’ll even do you a side of mushrooms. Black-and-white tiled flooring, bentwood chairs and big squishy booths make up most of the room while a massive heavy wooden bar rises at the front of the café propping up a coffee machine that pumps out countless coffees. This is as classic and comforting as a meal gets. 10 Kent Tce, Mt Victoria, Wellington.
Head back to our Insider's Guide to Wellington.
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