Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Deus Ex Machina, Auckland

This morning I went to Deus Ex Machina in Auckland for breakfast with a few people I've met on Twitter, I believe it's a semi-regular event but it's the first time I've been. I just thought I'd write a quick post to say that the coffee was great (even if the short black was very, very short) and the food nice at a reasonable price. The surroundings are cool as you'll be able to see from the website and I'd like to be able to take a wander around next time when I don't need to head back to work.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Café Debrett, Auckland Central

I'm a creature of habit, and once I've hit on a good thing I tend not to stray too far from it, hence my daily cup generally comes from the lovely people at ME Coffee Boutique on Albert Street. However, finding myself on Shortland Street and a few minutes early for a meeting this morning, I stopped by Café Debrett for a flat white.

So it's 0945 on a Tuesday, in a café in Auckland's CBD, and there's two people in it, sitting in silence waiting for their takeaway cups. I approach the counter. After waiting for a minute or so, I cough gently. One of the two chaps behind the counter notices me, takes my order, berates the barista for not working fast enough, and grimly turns back to whatever he was doing that was so much more important than serving customers (making wraps, I think).

A few minutes later, an all-too-familiar Allpress cup is dumped on the counter before me. Wordlessly, sullenly. It's too hot, slightly scalded, underextracted, careless. The flavour is dull even for Allpress, from whom I've come to expect an average but consistent brew.

So don't bother. In this area there are a dozen better coffee places within spitting distance, so there's no excuse to deal with this sort of appalling service and sub-standard product. The food looks ok; pides, wraps, that sort of thing, but from my experience in there it's all prepared with the sort of scowl that fair turns the stomach. Yeah, you might be having a bad day, but that doesn't mean your customers have to as well.

Café Debrett
Hotel Debrett
Shortland Street

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mazagran, Moray Pl., Dunedin

Mazagran is a bit of a legend in Dunedin. A tiny cafe (4x2 person tables) its coffee roaster takes up a serious proportion of the space. Located just behind the Rear Window of the Art Gallery in upper Moray Place, it apparently it supplies roasted beans to many cafes around Dunedin. They sell single variety beans and blends over the counter as well.

One Friday night recently I walked past about 9pm and the owner was sitting in the window, reading the paper surrounded by sacks of green beans and there was a delicious smell of roasting coffee. Yesterday I managed to get in to try the product.

And the coffee was good. The house blend had a full, rich flavour, with a very slight tang at the end - almost bitter but not. I'd liken it to a well made Havana coffee.

After 3 long blacks (which I now assume were double) on an empty stomach I was 'buzzing'. Thankfully the company was good and Dunedin treated us to a fine(ish) day so we could sit out the outside tables. All coffees are served in glasses and its a cash only place. They had a few truffles available but this is a place for good coffee not food. Also a great range of serious reading material from local poetry to the New Yorker and Vanity Fair.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Le Petit Cafe - Britomart

Down in the depths of the CBD lies one of those little silver futuristic style shoeboxes. There are a few dotted around, one has a forex set up, another sells "newspapers and candy" - very NYC!

One however, just down from the Britomart Transport Centre is a coffee kiosk. Usually operated by two, Le Petit Cafe produces amazing things. Granted they use Vittoria which is not usually first pick for me, but surprisingly they have managed to take the best bits from the bean to produce a drinkable if not slightly lovely first shot.

I am a firm believer in the service maketh the cup too. We can sometimes turn a blind eye to the unorthodox when we receive outstanding service and the team at Le Petit nail it every time. They remember the way I like my cappucino, (not exactly rocket science, but slightly unusual I suppose), when less busy even start making it before I get there. Both of the team could have had the roughest morning/day ever, but you'd never know because they have perfected the art of putting on a brave face and making their customers their first priority.

If you happen to be wandering around Britomart.. give them a go. Well worth it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Roasted Addiqtion, Kingsland

It's weird for me to write this, as I've been amused by the Roasted Addiqtion brand for a while - the self-styled coffee dealers offer their product by the shot, gram or kilo, and living in Kingsland you get odd whiffs of their roasting beans every now and then. Not as nice as it sounds, but interesting nonetheless.

Still, as both The Fridge and Shaky Isles are between my house and their cafe on New North Road, I only managed to get in there last weekend, and y'know, was a bit disappointed. So it was a Saturday morning and they were busy, but service was confused, frantic and distracted, and by the time we eventually got our coffees, gruffly handed over by a barista who looked like she'd rather be anywhere else, our normally sunny morning dispositions (honestly) were beginning to fray.

In the cup - not the masterbrew we'd been expecting at all. Thin, spitefully acidic and worse - scalded. I'll perhaps report on the actual beans themselves at another point, as I suspect this was more down to poor handling than poor raw materials. For now though, I think I'll give the cafe itself a miss.

Roasted Addiqtion
487 New North Road

+64 (0) 9 815 0913

Monday, August 17, 2009

A cafe in Grey Lynn

Having owned and worked in cafes before, you sometimes come across the odd barista who thinks they are above everyone else on the planet and will "only make the coffee" and not assist with other tasks. Usually, these types can get away with the attitude because they are good at what they do and making coffee actually does have a science to it and seeing so many baristas bugger it up, when you get a good barista you tend to panda towards their insecurities in order to keep them on board.

If you have a good team in your cafe, the barista can be left to their own devices, because often the cashier will provide the smiley face, the kitchen team create the most delicious menus ever, the cafe assistants keep the cafe clean and tidy and warm and welcoming and the owners will work on the business and not in it, meaning you have a very happy team.

All good and well when this equation works. But what happens when it doesn't. What happens if the cashier is answering the phone or fixing the eftpos terminal, the cafe assistant is helping to clean up a spilt fluffy, the kitchen staff are tending to orders... well, who is left as the next point of contact for incoming customers? The owners probably aren't there, or they are upstairs in the office, oblivious to the mini chaos.. so the next point of contact would be the barista.

Yep. The surly, fierce looking, unwelcoming yet bloody brilliant at making coffee barista. The one who was hired purely for their excellent coffee making skills is now in charge of first impressions. Disaster much? Absolutely.

I am all about helping businesses reach their potential. Especially in this climate, a "bad" review doesn't help anyone. So this cafe in Grey Lynn that I go to on a quasi regular basis will remain nameless. I'm positive too that the barista doesn't care what I write here; they will get on with their day being the self-obsessed chump they are, continuing to make coffee. But on the off-chance that he/she reads this, and recognises the behaviour as their own... perhaps you might like to adjust it slightly for the good of the business and the good of the other customers you treat in this manner.

If you are a barista who has agreed with the owners to "only make the coffee" please know that sometimes you will be required to make eye-contact with customers when the usual team who would do this is busy.

1) If multi-tasking is a challenge for you, perhaps practice the eyebrow raise or if you can manage, even a smile to incoming customers. They will then know that you are as busy as hell and will be with them soon.

2) Granted, it's not in everyone's nature to smile. So if that is difficult for you, it's okay but absolutely don't be selective in your smiling and welcoming eyebrow raises. To smile at the first two customers, even manage a hello, and then to give a horrible evil look of death to the third customer, well that third customer might just get a bit of a complex. Especially if this evil look experience seems to happen to them all the time.

3) I know it's a pain, when you have stretched a large jug of full cream milk and someone asks for a trim... ask them if it's ok to have full cream or ask if they mind waiting while you use up the full cream. Passing off full cream as trim milk can potentially make someone rather ill and that isn't a nice thing to do someone is it?

4) Finally, it can be tough when you are in a working environment with a particularly attractive person. Perhaps someone you would really like to get to know better. How great is it when that person gives you the time of day and you are having a fabulous conversation! You're in! Uh-oh.. here is an annoying customer! Someone who wants to buy something from you and keep you in a job! What do you do? Decisions decisions! Here's what you don't do. Don't ever look at me as if I am worth less than the shit on your shoe. Do not continue your conversation and put your hand up to my face when I say hello to initiate my order for coffee being taken. And do not then make me feel like I am imposing by coming into the cafe to get a coffee.

Thanks fo reading! Hope you have a fabulous day!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mamatas - Richmond Road

Favourite coffee spot this week... Mamata's on Richmond Road. They use Kokako organic beans which produce a smooth almost velvety texture and with a double shot it's enough of a kick to get through the morning! And not only do they produce fabulous caps the service is excellent, they consistently remember my coffee and being greeted in the morning with a smiley friendly face is a fab start to the day!

Go check them out - Mamata's Bakehouse, 401 Richmond Road, Grey Lynn.