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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

o-CNN: Love Affair With All Things Coffee at the Auckland Coffee Festival 2017, New Zealand

The Little Bean

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New Zealanders love their coffee.

On average, Kiwis are spending $13.67 a week on coffee from coffee shops. This adds up to just over $710 a year per person. New Zealanders work themselves through a per capita annual consumption of 3.7kg of beans (Wikipedia). We are talking about a Billion Dollar industry in a relatively small country, dedicated to maximising the benefits of the little bean from the genus Coffea.

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A survey by consumer satisfaction company Canstar Blue showed in 2015 that Kiwis are fairly dedicated to getting the best coffee possible with 52% going out of their way for a good cup. Coffee is a staple of the Kiwi diet. Kiwi's don't drink just any coffee. This country is called Aotearoa ("Land of the Long White Cloud"), but it might as well be called the "Country of the Strong Flat White" considering the sophistication and dedication that goes into every cup.

There is an espresso machine in every corner store, and most of these locations actually know how to use them. Legend has it that the early coffee roasters in New Zealand struggled with adoption and sponsored espresso machines for businesses as an incentive to stock and serve their beans. It fostered coffee adoption, and Kiwi's became as sophisticated and discerning about their coffee as any Italian. Caffeine is a drug after all, best served up strong.

The Auckland Coffee Festival, which is in its second year, is another opportunity for expressing the Kiwi love affair with coffee. According to Luke Jackison, the organiser, it is all about celebrating the "latte" lifestyle. It is also about showcasing talent, creativity and new ideas of what can be done with coffee within the Auckland coffee market.


We received an invitation from Luke and our good friends, Miles and Sandra from Weta Coffee, to attend and cover the festival. If you follow our journey, you will know that we cannot pass up any invitation to a food and beverage related festival, showcase or expose.

What we found was different from what we've seen elsewhere. Luke and his team of exhibitors indeed succeeded in engaging the audience with great products and coffee. They also impressed attendees with engaging coffee experiences. La Marzocco gave barista lessons on their new premium prosumer machines. There was coffee stout, jelly shots, espresso gelato, and affogato. You could scrub with coffee, bath with coffee, drink coffee, smell the coffee, grind coffee, pour coffee, press coffee, roast coffee, have your hair cut with coffee, or simply do it cold with nitrogen.

What truly stood out for us was the number of smaller operators that we found at the festival. The smaller roaster, bakery, cold brewer and even the creme brulee maker that served it from his trike.

Hipsterism dictates authenticity, value, independent thinking, counter-culture, an appreciation of art, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter. Men in beards and flannel were everywhere, but it didn't detract from the sheer quality of the products that was on offer, and the obvious fun people were having at every stall. The Auckland Coffee Festival comes highly recommended as a truly authentic experience. It is not only for hipsters. It is something not to be missed for anyone that shares in the love affair with all things coffee.

Set a reminder for late summer 2018.

Hendrik van Wyk
Flat White Cowboy

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