Where to drink the best coffee in Wellington
With cafés on almost every corner, Wellington is at the vanguard of world coffee culture. But the city’s renowned cafés do so much more than deliver a welcome jolt of caffeine.
- November 2017
With cafés on almost every corner, Wellington is at the vanguard of world coffee culture. But the city’s renowned cafés do so much more than deliver a welcome jolt of caffeine. They invite you into a cool, bohemian culture where creativity abounds, where you can sip while admiring carefully curated street outfits, listening to local buskers, and soaking up the local vibe. Here are the best coffee spots in Wellington where you can find great tasting brews while experiencing all the city has to offer.
Wellington’s iconic coffee scene
But it’s not just any old coffee that the windy city is famed for—it’s the flat white, said to be New Zealand’s unofficial national drink. A smaller, less foamy version of the latte, the flat white is a hit (or two) of espresso topped with milk. And though its origins may be hotly debated (Australia also lays claim to have invented the drink, in what is not the only culinary quarrel between the two countries – hello, pavlova!), Wellington looks set to be recognised as the city where the flat white was perfected.
Raglan Roast: fresh grinds aplenty
They roast their coffee daily at this hole-in-the-wall café, so you know you’re getting the freshest possible brew. Their humble beginnings in the seaside town of Raglan—a well-known New Zealand surfing spot—translate to the relaxed, recycled vibe here. Don’t be fooled, though—service is fast. Try their signature Brown Lightning blend, a dark roast with strong and sweet flavours. Or go organic with their DaGanic brew, a slightly lighter roast with fruity notes. Grab a sweet treat and settle into a retro leather couch to enjoy your beverage of choice.
Location: 40 Abel Smith Street, Te Aro (other Te Aro branches at 22 Herd Street and 12 Holland Street)
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Midnight Espresso: the mother of late-night brews
This city icon has been around since 1988, making it one of Wellington’s longest-running cafés. The art-covered walls, linoleum floors, vintage-style furnishings and dim lighting make it a fitting escape from bustling Cuba Street. They cater to early birds and night owls alike, opening as early as 7.30am and closing well after midnight at 3am.
They make a mean cappuccino and serve their mochaccino with marshmallows and cream. Try their piccolo latte for a caffeine kick or an espresso shake for a cold treat. The cafe also offers a wide array of stunning cakes, as well as gluten-free, wheat-free, vegan, and vegetarian fare.
Location: 178 Cuba Street, Te Aro
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Peoples Coffee: customer-first service
The customer is definitely king at this neighbourhood café. Service is fast and friendly, and the coffee is superb—their roastery is just one street behind, guaranteeing the freshest roasts. Their entire range is exclusively sourced from fairtrade certified co-operatives, ensuring that small-lot coffee farmers are supported. They use biodegradable cups and lids, while most of the cafe interior is made out of recycled items. Their cold brew coffee is sublime, but the real star is Don Wilfredo, their house blend espresso named after the coffee farmer who inspired them to commit to the fairtrade movement.
Location: 12A Constable Street, Newtown
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Havana Coffee Works: a taste of Cuba
The distinct scent of a good brew is in the air as you enter Havana Coffee Works. The corner café is laidback and cosy, with leafy green plants adding to its retro charm. Brown and green hues, large sacks of beans, and bags of freshly ground coffee give the cafe a rustic, earthy feel. The hot air roaster, which they designed and built themselves, adds flavour to their brews. For a serious caffeine kick, try the dark and strong X-Blend. If you want something milder, try the full-bodied chocolate finish of the 5-Star Blend.
Location: 163 Tory Street, Te Aro
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Coffix: an unbeatable fix
This unassuming café is based on the takeaway concept, getting rid of the usual coffee shop features such as crockery, menus, and waiters. And it does this without sacrificing the quality of the coffee. Coffix has a standard price for their double-shot brews, made from fairtrade and organic coffee beans, regardless of the type. You can get an extra shot, soy milk, or a flavoured shot for no additional charge. Pair your short black or flat white with a freshly baked muffin or gluten-free brownie for that perfect fix.
Location: 7 Ballance Street, 61 Molesworth Street
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