After years of denial the time has come to admit what those close to me already know: my coffee consumption is out of hand. To get some positives out of this situation I decided to share my ratings of the coffeehouse chains operating in New Zealand, for the benefit of the blog readers.
Drinking coffee is a total experience engaging all the senses and it is not easy to get the package right. Taste, texture and temperature of the brownish broth all have to be perfect. My favourite fix, trim flat white, adds the extra challenge of a low fat milk which will not hide the imperfections with a buttery richness of full milk. So is it even realistic to expect a consistently good service from commercial coffee chains?
My absolutely favourite coffee brand in New Zealand is Columbus. I regularly visit three of their franchises and have yet to be disappointed. The taste and texture are consistently top notch, as is the presentation. That their large cup is only NZD4.80 is an added bonus. The Columbus trim flat white consistently earns 7 to 8 out of 10 in my ranking. Well done.
The tier below is occupied by two franchises which deliver very different styles of coffee – Starbucks and Coffee Club. The Starbucks product is smoother and more balanced while Coffee Club typically delivers a bit of bite but both are perfectly drinkable. While more expensive than Columbus – the large cup at Starbucks and Coffee Club costs close to NZD6 – I rate them both at around 6.
A notch below (but well above some specialised coffee outlets) is good ol’ MacDonald’s. Stay away from their filter coffee but the barista flat white is quite respectable. More in the Starbucks “safe” style although not quite as cultured so maybe a 5. Available 24/7 even in drive through which is a huge advantage.
There are also two coffee brands I rate around 5 which do not have their own retail franchises – Allpress and L’affare. Both sell their roasted beans to small independent cafes and lunchbars which serve it their own way. While the overall experience will vary depending on the outlet operator Allpress and L’affare coffee usually does not disappoint in terms of taste. A notch below them in the same segment of the market are two other coffee roasters – Atomic and Karajoz.
The most disappointing flat white experience I had at a major franchise in New Zealand was Esquire Coffee House. It was so bad the first time round I had to try again to make sure this was not a one off. Sadly, the second time was even worse and I cannot believe how Esquire manage to survive in the crowded market for quality coffee outlets.
In case you are wondering – I have had a few 9s at various outlets over the years but no franchise can consistently deliver coffee that good. Yet to taste a perfect 10!
Off to get my fix now 🙂