Nelson's best outdoor coffee spots

SIP IN THE SUN: The courtyard at Deville cafe in New St is just one of Nelson’s sunny spots for morning coffee.
SIP IN THE SUN: The courtyard at Deville cafe in New St is just one of Nelson’s sunny spots for morning coffee.

“Here comes the sun, here comes the sun" . . . so where to go to drink coffee?

The other day when my friend and I placed our orders for a “flat white, single shot, trim milk please”, I realised that coffee has moved a long way from the Nescafe instant variety we once made at home and drank at the kitchen table. And we are so much more fussy.

It's not just the quality of the coffee, but the quality of the setting. And with spring on the way, I also want sun with my caffeine.

I have looked at the MetService website and I am right to be feeling that we have seen a lot of rain lately. Nelson has already had double the average amount of rain this August.

Sunshine hours, usually our claim to meteorological fame, have also dropped below average, so this could be why I am desperately seeking the yellow ball in the sky.

I have changed my coffee habits so that I can maximise my intake of vitamin D from the sun, as well as antioxidants (I hope they're still in coffee) and vitamin G (gossip).

With that combination I can help avoid osteoporosis, depression, breast cancer, diabetes and obesity. The social ritual that floats around coffee drinkers is also good for my mental health. I love the whoosh and squeal of a coffee machine and the sight of people relaxing and enjoying social intercourse.

I only drink coffee in the morning, so the recommendations here are aimed at other morning imbibers. Afternoon imbibers should be warned that a warm, sunny place in the morning can be a dark, shady place in the afternoon.

My desire for full sun has knocked 111 Bridge St and Pomeroy's, my two favourite cafes, from their first equal placing. But they shouldn't worry, because their coffee is so good that I will be back the next rainy day.

So where do I go when I want to enjoy my flat white with sun on my face? One contender is the Morning Room Cafe at Red Gallery. It is very easy to spend a quiet hour here with a good magazine and the morning sun streaming through the sash windows. But glass filters out a lot of UV light so I can't generate much vitamin D when sitting inside. Perhaps I should take my coffee outside and sit on their front step.

Deville cafe caters to my need for sun and has plenty of outdoor space with a roofed garden courtyard. Its location in New St means it is quiet.

Zumo is good too. Here, a lively business-friendly space houses the coffee roaster and ensures a rich coffee aroma. The morning sun beams in and by careful positioning you can see the Centre of NZ hilltop while drinking a flat white. Zumo has a few outside tables for soaking up vitamin D, though you also soak up traffic fumes from Rutherford St.

The coffee cart at the top of Trafalgar St, in front of the cathedral, does takeaway coffee. This is perfect for me as I can then take my cup to any sunny spot. Nearby is Ford's which is good for coffee, basking and people-watching, and has not too much traffic. Likewise, a successful experience can be had sitting outside at Morrison Street Cafe or Columbus Coffee, both in Fashion Island.

A bit out of the CBD is Melrose House, where I can happily sit outside on their front veranda. The gardens are exquisite at this time of year and perfectly complement this grand old building.

Also a bit out of the CBD is Sublime. A friend advises me that “sitting on the porch of Sublime, with sublime coffee in hand, is one of my faves on a sunny day”. Again, too many exhaust fumes for it to be my perfect spot.

I choose to go out rather than drink Nescafe at home because there is superior coffee, less personal clutter, decent magazines and someone else to do the dishes. To make the experience perfect I just need sun and a quiet garden setting and/or sea and/or mountain views.

Lyttelton used to have two cafes with lovely courtyards out the back, but it was too far to go and then the earthquakes removed them.

Maybe there is a cafe that I have missed, in which case let me know. I will visit and burst into spring song, Beatles style:

"Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,

And I say it's all right

Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter

Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here . . ."