Monday, July 11, 2011

The Day of Disappointing Coffee

I'm not going to write much about my recent break from Shakeytown 'cos that's not really what this blog is for... however there was one subject that I promised myself would not slide by without a decent rant.

You would think that Auckland, being the land of latte-lovers, would be an ideal place for a random coffee jaunt of a weekend, n'est pas? Think again. Allow me to elucidate on the Day of Disappointing Coffee (DoDC).

Now, you know by now that I'm an unashamed coffee snob of the worst order. I've made coffee for both love and money, and continue to practise my craft on a daily basis. I can tell by watching a barista at work whether I should be scared or grateful, and there are many brands/roasts that I stay well clear of. So by day3 of our trip, I'm sure you can imagine the dread and utter separation anxiety that had taken hold now that we were far away from the predictability & safety of our own machine.

We'd exhausted the local cafes within walking distance of the venue by day2, and the Allpress coffee cart was certainly nothing to get excited about - and was not often open before mid-afternoon - so we decided to make a jaunt of it. We headed out on a sunny Saturday afternoon in our campervan, towards the seaside suburb of St. Heliers. As per usual we had no particular plan other than to drive 'in that direction' and stop at any promising-looking cafes along the way.

Our first stop was a random coffee outlet on a roadside parking area that also contained a fruit & vege shop. It looked just like the sort of thing hubby & I could see ourselves running - a cute little cabinet-sized shop with some outdoor seating, focused on good coffee & a small selection of tasty food.
Lesson #1 on the DoDC: Looks can be deceiving
The coffees were large (since when is a flat white assumed to be large as standard??) and weak. Flavour was almost non-existant and, after 3 excruciating sips, I threw mine out.

At least the view was pleasant...
...but it didn't make up for the disappointing coffee. Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident.

Our next stop was Tamaki Drive in St Heliers. A seaside shopping strip in a monied part of the city, with a few cafes open and busy. We sized up the competition and decide to try Annabelles - the tables were mostly full of people and the coffee cups were drained & empty, which must be a good sign, right?
Lesson #2 on the DoDC: Specify double shot
As if one should have to when ordering a flat white in any self-respecting cafe... unfortunately, I realised too late that I had neglected to insert that phrase into my coffee order. The young lass handing them over said, 'Oh I'm sorry - our machine only does singles...'. I think not, little puppy. It didn't really matter... the weak, pathetic single shot was the least of their worries. In hubby's opinion, the milk tasted like it had been boiled on the stovetop for an hour. It was burnt and vile, and both cups went in the nearest bin. Mutterings about 'crimes against coffee' continued all the way down the street.

Until a tiny little blackboard sign on the footpath caught my eye: The Village Co-op - coffee & ice-cream.
Determined to give this coffee quest one more try, we approached with caution. After scaring the poor barista with our tale of woe about the crappy local coffees and our disgruntled palates (no pressure!), the young lass made a short black that satisfied hubby's sensibilities.

Our faith in the cult of coffee restored, we clutched our flat whites & walked back towards our mighty campervan. For the rest of our trip, we made sure to include the words 'double shot, small cup' every time we ordered. Oh well, such are the trials and tribulations of being a coffee snob in a strange city - and if that's all I've got to complain about then I must be doing alright really.

Auckland, you may be latte-land but you make far too many crap whites.
It's good to be home :)

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