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Reviews by Beaker:
Coffee Culture is a Sumner institution. Go there on a weekday between 7:30am and 9am, and you get the crowd filling up with takeaway coffee for the trek into the city. From about 9:30 to 11, you get the "mothers and others" filling in time before lunch. On the weekend, it's a zoo - way too crowded.
The coffee is really variable. The roasted / ground takeaway coffee is the BEST in Christchurch for making good coffee at home. The steamed milk sometimes has a rice pudding taste (burned), which can really spoil it. When they are busy, the quality of the coffee goes down (maybe not rinsing out the machine between shots). A nice place to get a coffee, good service, but a bit variable on the quality stakes. I spent thousands of dollars at Coffee Culture when I lived down the road from there (no joke) - probably 90% of it well worth while.
WAC has good coffee, and quite good food. The breakfast is better than the lunch. The coffee is C1, and they put an emphasis on the quality of the quality. The service is fast, particularly through the drivethrough. Even at the busiest times, the place has a good atmosphere. Not exactly "cool" surroundings, but a good place to meet people for lunch (and a good place to get a coffee on the way to work, if you live in Sumner / Redcliffs).
The coffee is excellent - sometimes it is a bit weak, particularly the Latte. Almost as if there is still some goodness left in the machine at the end of the shot... All of the milky coffees are really velvety - some put it down to the glass bottles the milk comes in. I've never had a bad coffee at C-1.
Service is incredibly slow. Budget 5 minutes for a takeaway when it's quiet, 20 minutes at lunchtime, or in the morning. Not slow because it's busy, just slow because it's a bit relaxed in the service department.
Food - some of the best in Christchurch. It has a "home made" feel to it - real flour in the pizza, muffins not full of oil. Lots of options as well, including nice vegan fare for those so inclined. Breakfast on the weekends is very good - especially for those trying to hide from their hangovers... The prices are really reasonable.
One of the best things about C1 is that even when it's busy, it's not noisy - the high ceilings, perhaps? A rare cafe that you can hold a conversation in when it's packed, without shouting. The music is a background, rather than a foreground attraction (some others could learn from that!) In summer, it's a cool, dark refuge from the bright sun, in winter, a warm place to escape from the cold.
Overall - I go to C-1 lots and lots. If the service was faster, I'd go there more for takeaways when I was passing.
Le Cafe does a good coffee - the food's not bad either.
The milky coffees aren't as good as the short blacks, but my favorite is the afogato (essentially a short black with icecream). Recently the food has become a bit more expensive, which is a shame, but it's pretty good.
The atmosphere is fairly bustly in the main resturant, but there is a side room that is good for medium sized groups. There are lots of outdoor tables as well.
Now the prices have gone up, the dynamic has changed for me. It's a bit casual to be a good resturant, and a bit pricey for cafe food. For a lunch on the weekend, before visiting the Botanic Gardens, not a bad choice.
Eastcoast Cafe has a reputation for being "child friendly" - they have a corner dedicated as a play area, with a boat, a lighthouse, and some toys and books. It's a good idea, and there always seem to be lots of children in there. Because of all the nooks and crannies in the place, it's doesn't seem to create a disturbance for other customers.
The coffee is good - the Latte is a little weak, but paired with a double short black, it works well for me. The food is standard cafe fare, but well presented, and fresh. The service - good, although when I went with a group that included a baby with alergies (who had bought their own food, for obvious reasons), they wouldn't heat a little container for them, which was a bit of a pain.
Yes, a takeaway only espresso bar that's a screen printing studio... It's also called "Coastal", when it's about 15km from the coast. Very post modern.
Notwithstanding that, Coastal does a good business of takeaway only coffee and sweet slices. Using C1 coffee (good...), and with a fast, efficient service, it's very good for those in the know. They seem to do a stronger coffee than anyone else in town. Many regulars from the businesses around the area - it's one to know about in the industrial wastelands of Middleton.
Mainstreet - what hasn't been said about it? For years an icon of Christchurch Vegetarian cuisine, and now updated and cleaned up a bit. The food is pretty good - the breakfast and lunch menu is good for a snack (or more). Coffee is C4, and really quite inexpensive. A quad shot latte bowl for $4.50. Incredible. Being somewhere that doesn't roast its own coffee, they can hardly be expected to make too much of a hash of the coffee making, and they don't. Worth visiting.
Nothing says that New Zealand has changed since the 1980s like eat deli & bar in Fairlie. Driving from Christchurch down to Tekapo, Twizel, Wanaka or Queenstown, it's a nice place to stop and eat and drink. They do a range of deli style food, and have a blazing fire (which is good if it's as cold as it normally is in Fairlie in winter). Pricing is good, and the food is made on premises. A nice touch is the little play area for children, which is nice if you've just driven for a couple of hours from Christchurch (and it keeps the kids happy too....).
Coffee is Underground, which always seems stronger to me, but it's yummy. Fairtrade as well, so you can be excited by that! I have been told that the hot chocolate is very nice also (ain't no watery Milo here.). Service is friendly, even when you wander in covered in mud (should have got those fast fit snow chains...). Highly recommended for anyone going past.
Also, the location allows for many puns - it's "fairly" cheap, it's "fairly" hot, it's "fairly" good, it's fairly fair fare.... Fantastic.
Pictures from Beaker: