Bean there, done that: coffee craze in good taste

OLIVIA WANNAN
Last updated 05:00 15/02/2014

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It's a tall order separating Wellingtonians from a decent coffee.

A customer survey published yesterday confirms the capital has the country's biggest coffee snobs - almost three in four will choose an expensive brew over a less tasty one every time.

And more than half of Wellingtonians will go out of their way for a good coffee.

The only thing that will dampen our desire is financial worries. Almost half of Wellington residents say they have restricted their coffee habit to save money.

We're also some of the most caffeinated people around - one in three people drink three or more cups every day, according to the Canstar Blue survey.

Such results might not shock many in the capital, but it may come as a surprise that BP petrol stations' Wild Bean Cafe topped Wellington's Mojo for the nation's best coffee chain.

Wild Bean earned the highest customer satisfaction rating, followed by Columbus Coffee and Robert Harris Cafe. Mojo Coffee rated fourth out of 10 chains. McDonald's McCafe earned the lowest scores.

Barista Pauline Tomokino, of Wild Bean's Wakefield St store in central Wellington, has trained most of the baristas in the Wellington region and said she knew first-hand how much the chain expected its staff to meet high customer expectations. "We're ahead of the game."

Many of the daily customers were from nearby office blocks, who bypassed other cafes, she said. "I think a lot of people think, because we're a petrol station, we don't make good coffee, but once they get hooked here - that's it, it's over."

But the chain has yet to win over espresso obsessor Kathleen Scott, of Newtown. The 25-year-old said she avoided all chains, preferring Peoples Coffee or Memphis Belle.

Growing up in Seattle and living overseas, she felt Wellington's coffee compared well with anywhere. "I've loved coffee from birth. When I moved to Wellington, it was all on."

Midnight Espresso general manager Carl Watson said he had seen Wellington grow into a world leader in coffee over his 15 years in hospitality. Some might think customer expectations had driven this, but he wondered if New Zealand's quality was more about location.

"We roast locally, so it's all fresh. And we just have happier cows, so the milk quality is really high as well."

What Makes Good Coffee? 

Pauline Tomokino, Wild Bean, BP Taranaki/Wakefield St

Wild Bean Wellington barista champ, 13 years' experience.

Before Wild Bean baristas can brew, they must undergo hours of training sessions making hundreds of coffees with a supervisor.

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The minimum requirement is 20 consistent and high-standard brews for each coffee on the menu, marked by training staff.

Baristas can then go on to do silver and gold-level training.

Each Wild Bean coffee is made following a nationally set process, ensuring consistency.

Carl Watson, Midnight Espresso, Cuba St

15 years' experience

New baristas at Midnight Espresso should have between 3 and 5 years' experience in a cafe, plus barista training.

Skills are evaluated in a three-hour trial.

Ongoing training at Havana Coffee.


- The Dominion Post

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