new zealand coffee review (archive)

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Reviews by Coffee Monster:

Review of Java Coffee House by Coffee Monster, updated Sun, 19 Mar 2006:

I used to go to Java a lot back in 1998. The double shot short black there was the best I have ever had: not too bitter, with a hint of blackcurrant in the aftertaste. Also, the chocolate cookies they made were excellent.

Returning recently, it seems to be under new management. From a few visits:

#1 - The cookies seem to have lost their magic :-(

#2 - I had a double espresso. Not as good as it used to be, but still not too bad. A little bitter on the top, but RIGHT at the bottom, just before the leftover coffee grounds, it had that "special espresso taste" that the old ones had.

#3 - Tried a takeaway cappuccino. The foam on the top was good, but take heed of the warning on the cap; this coffee gives new meaning to "CAUTION: HOT CONTENTS". I had to wait quite a while for this to cool down enough to be drinkable.


Review of Cafe Wac by Coffee Monster, updated Mon, 28 Jul 2008:

I used to have lunch at Wac quite often back in 2005 or so. The coffee was always good. The food was sometimes OK, sometimes really nice.

I remember the environment being quite nice - both tables and couches, to suit your mood.


Review of Ziya's Cafe by Coffee Monster on Thu, 14 Apr 2005:

Great Turkish food! An awesome location, too: eat outdoors, under the trees, if you can. has some reviews, too.


Review of Panetteria by Coffee Monster on Thu, 14 Apr 2005, updated Mon, 29 Sep 2008:

[Updated Sep 2008: I wrote this review back when Panetteria was called Pan Italia.]

Good cappucinos. Haven't tried the food yet.

Pan Italia Eastgate is located in the corner of the food court, between McDonalds and a kebab place. It's not in the main food court, but rather through a little archway, so it's a good place to get away from the rest of the mall.

There's a little outdoor area, too, so you can sit outside in the sun. The seats are a little rickety, and it's right next to a busy road, but it's still a nice place to relax.


Review of Cafe Stir by Coffee Monster on Tue, 26 Apr 2005:

Had a bacon and egg panini and a cappucino there today. The panini was great - only lightly cooked rather than seriously toasted and bricklike, which is what I'm used to elsewhere. The coffee was pretty ordinary.


Review of Piranha by Coffee Monster on Thu, 28 Apr 2005:

Haven't been there for years -- but I still remember the awesome "school of fish" art (all made of metal!) on one wall.


Review of Deli-licious Cafe by Coffee Monster on Mon, 09 May 2005:

Nice little cafe, across the road from Sumner's Hollywood Cinema. I was happy to see they had some proper sofas to sit on, and a few copies of today's newspaper scattered around - perfect for unaccompanied customers (like me) looking for something to do.

The coffee was pretty good, although the heap of chocolate powder on top was a bit of a disappointment after seeing the nice designs on the coffee from Wac and Pan Italia.

I had a slice of lasagne, which had a nice spicy taste, although the cheese / pasta on top didn't feel all that fresh. Also had a custard square, which was great.

The coffee and food arrived very quickly, and the service was friendly.


Review of Wild Bean at BP Edgeware by Coffee Monster on Wed, 11 May 2005, updated Tue, 06 Sep 2005:

Tried a regular (takeaway) cappuccino with an extra shot of coffee on the way to work this morning.

Surprisingly good; I didn't expect to get good coffee from a gas station :-)

A little hot - but only when I was trying to drink it through the sipper top. Much nicer after taking that off.


Review of Galileo's @ Science Alive by Coffee Monster on Sun, 15 May 2005:

Nice location and decor. Couches to sit on, and interesting things next door to look at while you wait. Free internet access through an iBook next to the counter. (No, this review wasn't written there!)

I think my takeaway cappucino was the first coffee they'd made this morning, and it had a decidedly weird flavour about it. Perhaps the milk was a bit off? Drinkable, but very odd.


Review of Coffee Culture Merivale by Coffee Monster on Mon, 16 May 2005, updated Thu, 25 Aug 2005:

VISIT #1: Picked up a small takeaway cappuccino from CC Merivale on the way to work.

Only $2.90, but it was surprisingly small - CC's small coffees actually are small!

The taste was quite disappointing; usually with a takeaway cappuccino there's a nice burst of flavour at the top, but with this there was nothing. The coffee was very bland as well. I ordered it with an extra espresso shot, but I don't think that's what I actually got. I was only charged the single-shot price -- perhaps I didn't speak clearly enough when I ordered?

VISIT #2: Returned to try a large takeaway cappuccino, which was much better. Very drinkable, strong enough, and with good-tasting foam on top.


Review of McCafe Papanui Rd by Coffee Monster on Tue, 17 May 2005:

Tried a regular takeaway cappuccino today. $2.45 - the cheapest takeaway coffee reviewed so far!

It took a while to arrive, as the McCafe staff had just got an order for about 12 coffees from a big group.

Not spectacular, but not bad either. Good enough taste, but a little tiring to drink - perhaps the regular size is too big for me? A bit hot.

I'd probably rank it better than the cappucino from Coffee Culture Merivale, but not as good as the one from Wild Bean.


Review of Robert Harris Northlands by Coffee Monster on Sun, 29 May 2005, updated Tue, 06 Sep 2005:

Robert Harris Café looks very nice - it's well presented and fits into the mall well. It's popular (and busy!) and the staff are friendly and helpful.

It has some standard cafe-style tables, and some soft chairs.

We tried the coffee & sour cream cake, and had a cappuccino and a moccaccino.

The cake arrived straight away, but the coffee was VERY slow - we had long since finished the cake by the time it appeared.

The cake was good, although the coffee-flavoured icing had quite a strong bitter taste.

The chocolate swirls on top of the coffees looked good. The froth on top of the cappuccino had a bitter taste, and it was too hot for my liking. The coffee itself wasn't particularly drinkable - I found myself not wanting to finish it. Not sure if this was because of its extreme size (Robert Harris's "medium" sized coffees are BIG - if you want normal sized coffee, order "small"!) or because of the coffee itself.

Overall: I'd go there if I was in the mall and couldn't be bothered going elsewhere, but it's not worth making a special trip to get there. Next time I'll probably have orange juice rather than coffee, but the cake is good.


Review of Caffe Roma by Coffee Monster on Mon, 30 May 2005:

Caffe Roma has the most amazing lamb salad on pita bread!


Review of Eastcoast Cafe by Coffee Monster on Mon, 30 May 2005:

Eastcoast Cafe is bigger on the inside than the outside. I went in there expecting to find an ordinary cafe, but found a jungle!

When you go in the door, you find yourself in an ordinary cafe-like room, which is attached to a room full of blue couches, which is attached to the aforementioned jungle.

The walls are plastered with various antique items, some of which are for sale. There are tables and couches scattered around, creating lots of little private spots.

I had a cappuccino and a coconut and yoghurt slice. The cappuccino was good; the foam on top could have been a little creamier, and the liquid part was a little hot at first, but overall it tasted good. The coconut slice was great, if perhaps a little bigger than I expected at first.

Friendly service - and everything arrived in double-quick time, even though I had hidden myself away in a remote corner of the "jungle room".

I'm told that the food here is good, although I haven't tried it myself.

Definitely worth a visit - even if just to see the interior!


Review of dot com - Coffee on Marriner by Coffee Monster on Thu, 02 Jun 2005:

Had lunch there today; tried a cappuccino and a panini.

The cappuccino was OK. Not bad, but not the best I've tasted. The foam on top was good, and the design was made with little flakes of chocolate rather than chocolate powder, which was a nice change. The panini was good.

Dot Com Cafe has a trendy appearance - all brushed aluminium and mirrorlike surfaces. Lots of small, almost bar-like tables. It feels perhaps more like somewhere I would want to go out to at night than a place to eat lunch.


Review of KC's Cafe by Coffee Monster on Thu, 14 Jul 2005, updated Wed, 22 Feb 2006:

About half the office used to head down there every morning.

This was a "proper" cafe - we could always expect *good* coffee.

Unfortunately, KC's closed on Friday 9 September (2005). The owner is going to be running a mobile café though - so hopefully we'll see it around!


Review of Stars Cafe by Coffee Monster on Thu, 25 Aug 2005:

Stars Cafe is a "tearooms"-style outfit, occupying the ground floor of Ibis House on Hereford St (between Manchester and Madras, near the Liverpool St intersection).

Came in at 10am for a takeaway cappuccino ($3) and a banana and chocolate chip muffin ($2.50). The Korean staff were friendly, and made the cappuccino on a small machine in the corner (I forget what brand it was).

The coffee was drinkable, although a little bitter and watery, and the foam had visible bubbles and not much taste (perhaps it was spooned in rather than poured?). I couldn't see too well, but it looked

The muffin had a nice "home made" feel to it, with a crunchy top and soft inside. A hint of baking soda in the taste, but otherwise good. A nice change after the packaged muffins I've had elsewhere - I'll be coming back for more of these.

In summary - you'd probably be better getting your coffee around the corner at KC's, but this looks like a great (friendly, spacious) place for morning tea.


Review of Yellow Rocket Northlands by Coffee Monster on Tue, 06 Sep 2005, updated Tue, 06 Sep 2005:

Tried a small takeaway cappuccino - $3.20.

The foam on top was excellent; it had the right texture, and had a decent coffee flavour without being bitter.

I had high hopes for this cup ... but unfortunately the coffee underneath was different. It was way too hot at first, and after it cooled down it tasted of burnt milk and was a bit weak and watery.

It was drinkable, but not that great overall.


Review of Flask by Coffee Monster on Thu, 23 Feb 2006:

Had a small takeaway cappuccino this morning. Pretty good.


Review of Sweet Fanny-Anne's by Coffee Monster on Tue, 06 Sep 2005, updated Thu, 21 Feb 2008:

Had a takeaway cappuccino while waiting for the bus. I'd rate it 7/10. The milk foam was good. The coffee was a little hot, but wasn't unnecessarily bitter and had a nice taste.

When you order a coffee, they fan a deck of cards out on the table in front of you and ask you to pick one. If you get an ace, your coffee is free. No luck for me, I'm afraid :-)


Review of Fuel by Coffee Monster on Tue, 06 Sep 2005:

Fuel is perched in the corridor on the departures floor of Wellington Airport that takes you from the main shopping / eating area to gates 10-17. See pictures for more detail.

Fuel looks like a "real" cafe - pretty much existing only to serve good coffee. They seem to take care grinding and tamping the coffee, and it has all the appearance of a hip modern cafe.

Unfortunately the coffee wasn't nearly as good as I hoped; I'd rate it 5/10. I had a "tall" (medium/large) takeaway flat white. It was well presented - looked good. The top of the foam was VERY bitter, although the foam below that was nice. The coffee was OK, although a little bitter. Just barely drinkable - better than a Robert Harris cappuccino, but not that great.

Another oddity about the place is the smell of stale coffee that hangs over the whole corridor. Someone needs to clean up the old coffee grounds more often!


Review of Starbucks Lambton Quay by Coffee Monster on Tue, 06 Sep 2005:

I had a "tall" (medium) cappuccino. It was OK, although a bit hot and not especially memorable. Served in a mug - that was a surprise; I don't think I've ever had a cappuccino in a mug before!


Review of Pod by Coffee Monster on Tue, 06 Sep 2005:

I had two cappuccinos. Both were drinkable, and very creamy - nice! I'd rate them 8/10, because the foam was a little bitter.


Review of Cellar-vate Espresso by Coffee Monster on Tue, 06 Sep 2005:

OK coffee, well presented.

It's been too long since I went there - I've forgotten what I wanted to say!

I think the coffee was a bit hot, and the foam was a little bitter. 6/10.


Review of Columbus (Westfield Riccarton) by Coffee Monster on Tue, 04 Oct 2005:

First visit:

Had a takeaway short black. Good.

Second visit:

Had a large takeaway cappuccino and a slice of chocolate mud cake.

The cappuccino was OK; I've had better, but it wasn't bad.

The cake was good, although it wasn't really sticky and chocolatey enough to be called "mud cake". It was more like chocolate sponge with chocolate cream in the middle and chocolate icing on top.


Review of Moko by Coffee Monster on Sun, 18 Dec 2005:

Had a takeaway cappuccino. Not bad. It took a little while to make, as four drinks had just been ordered by a group outside, but it was good when I got it.

The loyalty card looks like a good deal - you get a free coffee after buying four (at $3 each). In other words, you can buy five coffees for $2.40 each.


Review of The Bicycle Thief by Coffee Monster on Tue, 04 Apr 2006, updated Tue, 11 Apr 2006:

The Bicycle Thief is dark and welcoming - sort of English Pub style. Unusual for a Christchurch cafe, most of which are brightly lit, but definitely a good thing. It seems to function primarily as a cafe in the morning, but I guess later on in the day it turns into a restaurant, then a bar.

I dropped in for a cappuccino on the way to work recently. The coffee was good. Strong enough, slightly bitter on top, but nothing to complain about.

Notes from further visits:

- a large takeaway cappuccino, which was OK, although not spectacular.

- a small takeaway cappuccino, which was great.


Review of Coffee Lovers by Coffee Monster on Tue, 04 Apr 2006, updated Tue, 04 Apr 2006:

Coffee Lovers is a little cafe in the middle of New Regent St, next to Stir. I stopped in on the way to work recently, and had a takeaway cappuccino. CL didn't look all that popular compared to the neighbouring cafes, so I didn't have very high expectations - but was pleasantly surprised: the coffee was excellent! Good foam, and the coffee beneath was deep and rich.

Note: This cafe is where Bagel Heaven used to be (25 New Regent St).


Review of Procopé Coffee House by Coffee Monster on Tue, 11 Apr 2006, updated Sun, 19 Aug 2007:

Procopé looks like a very cool, interesting place to have a coffee. Nice art outside, and nice décor inside. However, the service and coffee wasn't quite as good as expected. I didn't see any of the staff smiling, and the waitress delivering people's coffee looked tired and uninterested. The standard size cappucino was quite a bit bigger than what you get in most cafés, and too hot, making it pretty tiring to drink.

If you like large coffees, though, it would probably be OK. Based on this first impression, I'd rank Procopé above places like Robert Harris, but it doesn't make it into the 'top tier' of cafes (see: Bicycle Thief, Wac, C1). It would be a nice meeting place if you live in the Merivale area.

I don't want to condemn the place based on one cold morning, though - I'll be back for a small takeaway coffee sometime and see how that turns out.


Review of Decadence by Coffee Monster on Tue, 18 Apr 2006:

Had a cappuccino at Decadence in the morning yesterday. Nice presentation. The cup was a bit larger than usual for a cappuccino. The foam was good, although the coffee was a bit too hot and weak.

This looks like a nice place to go to for breakfast/brunch/lunch, but I probably wouldn't go there just for the coffee.


Review of Easts Books on High by Coffee Monster on Tue, 25 Apr 2006:

East's Books on High is bookshop with a corner marked off as a cafe. Before I came in, I was wondering how they'd manage to let people drink coffee inside the store without getting it all over the books. It looks like they have a small selection of books and magazines inside the cafe area for you to read - so the cafe nature doesn't really extend throughout the store.

Interesting to see a newspaper clipping on the wall - it looks like the Press interviewed the barista, Bianca. I've forgotten the name of the column, but if it's on the web somewhere, I'd link to it from here.

I dropped in for a double espresso this morning. I haven't had one for a while, so I don't really know how to review them (so no rating on this review), but it was better than what I make at home, so I can't fault it at this point :-)

See also: a couple of reviews on


Review of Brio Cafe by Coffee Monster on Wed, 26 Apr 2006:

Brio Cafe used to be called High St Cafe. It's recently had a change of ownership (early February, if the liquor license plaque is anything to go by). I dropped in for the first time this morning, and had a double espresso, made by one of the new owners.

I'm still not good at judging espressos, but this one seemed pretty good.


Review of Coffee Lovers by Coffee Monster on Mon, 01 May 2006:

Had a great takeaway cappuccino here the other day. I thought the name of this cafe (Coffee Lovers) was a bit cheesy, but it seems accurate - these people know their coffee :)


Review of Trattorie by Coffee Monster on Thu, 21 Sep 2006:

Trattorie, in Fendalton Village Mall, is a decent sized cafe in the middle of the 'burbs. The day I was there, it was full of mothers and kids.

The decor is modern - the metal and glass look. Fair trade Underground coffee is served, and they also sell it by the packet.

I've only been there once so can't really judge the coffee yet, but I couldn't find anything wrong with the short black I had there the other day, so it gets the seal of approval for the time being :)


Review of Timmy's Espresso Bar by Coffee Monster on Tue, 03 Oct 2006:

Amazing décor - all the walls are totally covered in graffiti. I've posted some pictures, but they don't really do it justice; I'd need about 30 pictures to show the whole place.

Dropped in for a cappuccino this afternoon - not bad.


Review of Mojo by Coffee Monster on Sat, 27 Jan 2007:

Not a review -- just a comment, and a link :)

Check out Coffee Video Magazine for some videos of Mojo, in the "Behind the Bar" section and the "Roaster's Corner".


Review of Yellow Rocket Cathedral Square by Coffee Monster on Sun, 19 Aug 2007:

Planning on heading in there sometime and giving the wireless internet a go. This is (I think) the only city cafe served by, which has a monthly discount rate ($40/month), making it actually feasible to use on an extended basis.


Review of Esquires PWC by Coffee Monster on Tue, 09 Oct 2007, updated Tue, 09 Oct 2007:

Further to the 'free wifi' note above... Esquires gives you one hour of wifi free with any purchase.

More reading:


Review of Essential Foods (closed?) by Coffee Monster on Tue, 29 Apr 2008:

Message from the site admin -- received this e-mail the other day from the Machiatto Espresso roaster with up-to-date info on where to find him:

Hi there; FYI I am the roaster at Machiatto Espresso and have been supplying Essential Foods Cafe at the Masterton railway station since it started. Unfortunately, it has been closed since Dec 2007, so my main outlet is via the Masterton Farmers' Market at the Solway Showgrounds on Saturday mornings. More Info if required. Thanks.


Review of The Food Lovers Cafe on the Landing (closed?) by Coffee Monster on Thu, 12 Jun 2008:

Message from the site admin -- apparently this cafe is now closed.


Review of C1 Espresso by Coffee Monster on Fri, 03 Apr 2009:

In C1 now (yay vodafone mobile broadband!), drinking a cappucino and eating a caramel slice. Both are excellent, and arrived quickly, even though C1's nearly full.

The side of cream with the caramel slice cost an extra $0.50, but is deliciously solid whipped cream, not the usual spray stuff you see in cafes, and they gave me enough to garnish a whole cake.

In summary - great.


Review of Gloria Jean's (Borders Riccarton) by Coffee Monster on Mon, 13 Apr 2009:

This is the Gloria Jean's cafe located inside the Borders bookstore opposite Westfield Riccarton (Riccarton Mall) on Rotheram St, Christchurch.

I had a small cappucino, which wasn't bad, and an excellent chocolate chip cookie. Nice variety of places to sit, from 4-place tables with wooden chairs to couches, some with full tables and others with low coffee tables.

It seems fairly popular, with a few people waiting to order most of the time, although never 100% full so I didn't have any trouble finding somewhere to sit. I brought my laptop to do some work and didn't feel out of place, as there were a few students doing homework or people reading books dotted around.


Review of Robert Harris Northlands by Coffee Monster on Tue, 14 Apr 2009:

Dropped in to do some work on my laptop. Skipped the coffee, and had a slice of tropical cheesecake, which wasn't bad, although not as nice as other cheesecake I've had recently (at the Bohemian and the cafe in Borders Riccarton).


Review of Langdale's Vineyard Restaurant by Coffee Monster on Sun, 19 Apr 2009:

After lunch at Langdale's today, I had a short black (single espresso), which was one of the best I've ever had in Christchurch. Good crema, not bitter at all, slightly fruity taste with a blackcurrant aftertaste. Unexpectedly good (although everything at Langdale's is generally very good).


Review of Parade Cafe by Coffee Monster on Mon, 27 Jul 2009:

Had brunch at Parade Caf on Sunday. It was pretty packed inside but there was space in the courtyard. Service was pretty quick and coffee and French toast were good.

Best chocolate chip cookies ever.

Would definitely come back.


Review of Ris'tretto Espresso Cafe & Roastery by Coffee Monster on Wed, 11 Nov 2009:

Note that this caf has a bunch of good reviews here:

I'd take the two below with a grain of salt...


Review of MOS by Coffee Monster on Mon, 08 Feb 2010:

Looks like this is the old Double Drop Cafe, which was more of a bar/nightclub than a cafe. (The owners sold it and bought Double Happy, down the road, which people now call Double Happy Drop).


Review of The Bicycle Thief by Coffee Monster on Thu, 15 Apr 2010:

Take these recent reviews with a grain of salt. Last time I went to the Bicycle Thief, it was awesome - great food and atmosphere - and my friends all still love it too.

-CM [founder, NZ Coffee Review]


Pictures from Coffee Monster: