Caffiend: Novotel Tainui

A FLAT WHITE: From Novotel Tainui.
A FLAT WHITE: From Novotel Tainui.

The scene: Novotel Tainui, 7 Alma St, Hamilton

The trade: Piazza D'Oro

Price per double shot flat white: $5 (50c for an extra shot)

On the ground: They walk in off Alma St and pretty soon they're sitting in the lobby of a Berlin hotel, killing the hours before their flight at noon. They will travel to Spain, on assignment to cover the last bullfight before the ultimate triumph of animal rights activists - the lensman and the writer, Caffiend, will be there to witness the spectacle: the beast and the bovine and the blood, the roar of the crowd as the red cape whips through air and the bull's hind legs quiver. In the lobby at the cash register, Sven represents a picture of German efficiency and European sensibility - hardly a hair out of place, three languages, Deutsch, French, English, on his tongue. A true professional. The lensman takes a pot of tea; Caffiend, two shots of espresso and warm frothed milk. A waitress serves and there's an easy smile. Caffiend inhales the soft liquid drug in moments - the taste is neither full of life, nor death. The talk starts, and turns to that moment when the bull realises it has lost and is doomed. Then the dream is over - they stand up and walk out of Novotel on to Alma St.

The verdict: 7 out of 10. Quality service in an international atmosphere.

Stimulus: The best response to the Caffiend column so far came from the manager of Z Pukete. He didn't ring up to moan about the lukewarm words, but instead wanted to know who served the brew so he could work with that person to improve the product - great work, Z Pukete.