Christchurch is a coffee town. Every street seems to have two or three cafes. Unique to New Zealand and Australia is the flat white, which is essentially a cortado with a thinner foam. They also serve every espresso drink short or long. Short refers to a basic espresso shot while long means a shot that has hot water added. It’s essentially an Americano, but with slightly less water.
In general, the New Zealand palate seems to prefer more roasted flavors. What they call light roast I would call medium; what they call medium roast I would call dark; and what they call dark I would call burnt. In general the coffee in the cafes is mediocre, but great cups of coffee can be found. Below are my top four places.
C4 is my favorite place I’ve been to in Christchurch. They are a roaster (cover photo) in addition to a full service coffee bar. The Yirgacheffe pourover was tasty, and was the only cup of coffee I’ve had in New Zealand that wasn’t dominated by roasted notes. Their espresso blend is pleasant, and probably the best I’ve had in New Zealand, but was nothing to write home about. The shop is slightly out of town in an industrial area next to a car repair shop. It’s a huge open space with plenty of seating and free wifi, a huge plus for travelers without local cellphones. They also sell their beans, so this is probably the best place to stock up on coffee before heading to Antarctica.
A Mouse Called Bean
This small coffee stand is in one of my favorite places in Christchurch, the Re:Start mall. Re:Start was built on the site of an old mall which was destroyed the in earthquake. It was one of the first areas opened after the earthquake and served as a place of congregation for many citizens. They were able to rebuild so quickly because the stores are made entirely of shipping containers. The space is absolutely gorgeous and the coffee shop is sandwiched between a juice/smoothie shop and a pizzeria. The coffee a A Mouse Called Bean comes from a Lyttlelton roaster. The espresso is deeply roasted but still holds onto some of the more fruity notes. Between the good coffee and great location, this is a spot worth checking out.
This is a wonderful cafe with great food and coffee. It was next to our first hotel. The bagel with bacon and eggs came with some sort of chutney which went very well with the sandwich. Steve got the coconut bread with cream cheese and lime marmalade. That was truly fantastic. Also of note, they sell coffee beans from Hummingbird Coffee, one of the primary distributors of coffee in Christchurch. The coffee here is good representative of the standard coffee one finds in Christchurch – roasty and pleasant.
Vic’s, like many cafes in the area, is a cute space that serves coffee, baked goods, and standard breakfast items. I had the cheese and ham muffin for breakfast with a macchiato. The muffin was freshly baked and warm. It’s across from the street from Procope, and the coffee is indistinguishable from their neighbor’s (which isn’t a bad thing).