A busy city of startups and professionals, Auckland relies heavily on cafés with strong aesthetics and even stronger coffee to get things done. Despite often being overshadowed by their Australian neighbours, New Zealanders have perfected the art of brunch and know how to start their mornings off with an expertly executed cup of coffee. Here’s where to find fantastic flat whites and exceptional espressos in Auckland.
Cafe, Restaurant, Contemporary, Oceanian, $$$
Ortolana is set in downtown Auckland's buzzing Britomart area | Image courtesy of Ortolana
Ortolana is Italian for market gardener, a name that is clearly mirrored in every detail of the café. The coffee shop and eatery is set in a glass conservatory, giving visitors the feeling of being among the elements while remaining protected from the temperamental Auckland weather. Ortolana relies on local farmers when sourcing the freshest produce for its seasonal menu, another nod to its name. Try the turmeric eggs with chorizo, feta, chilli and mint on sourdough toast – you won’t regret parting with the dollars.
True to its name, entering Bestie Cafe feels a bit like walking into your best friend’s house. Pink walls are covered in tiny Polaroid photos of friends who have stopped in for a cup of coffee. The contents of the pastry case are lovingly labelled by post-it note, as if a mother left a cake on the home kitchen counter. Bestie makes a great place to catch up with a friend over brunch and offers superb views of Auckland’s Skytower.
Kumara (sweet potato) sourdough toast, homemade muesli, and smoked fish on flatbread – it doesn’t get much more Kiwi than Williams Eatery in central Auckland. Natural wood tables sit in strong contrast to concrete floors, giving the café a modern feel. It serves Fairtrade coffee in 100 percent compostable packaging, keeping in line with Williams’ Kiwi approach to things – always putting the environment first. Those with a sweet tooth should opt for Williams’ banoffee pie washed down with house chai.
Whether you are on the hunt for coffee morning, noon or night, Odettes Eatery is waiting for you – just look for the iconic neon signage in the heart of the central business district. The café is housed in an old warehouse that’s been fixed-up with bright, tropical-themed artwork and furnishings every shade of blue. The menu changes with each season, but the fare is always a creative blend of African and Mediterranean influences. Instead of standard avocado toast, Odettes has quinoa tabbouleh beetroot with tahini, avocado and halloumi. In place of scrambled eggs, you’ll find a delicious three-egg omelette with asparagus, goat’s curd, and rocket salad.
Set inside a villa built in 1912, Orphans Kitchen is the passion project of two friends who thought Auckland’s Ponsonby neighbourhood could use an intimate space to enjoy food prepared with traditional Māori methods. Honey used in dishes here is harvested from beehives housed on the roof of the café. Coffee lovers can rejoice over the expert manual brew, but those wanting to branch out should try the citrus and ginger tea, made from the leaves of the Kawakawa tree, native to New Zealand.
Dizengoff is a staple among Auckland’s elite Instagrammers and fashion influencers, which might be surprising when you walk through the door only to find a small white café, the wooden floors of which probably haven’t been replaced since its 1994 launch. While the interior isn’t anything to write home about, the food at Dizengoff has kept Auckland locals coming back for more for over 20 years thanks to its simple nature and consistent quality. The Allpress coffee is always hot enough to enjoy over the duration of brunch and the classic chicken salad is made using an old Jewish recipe that has not been altered since the café’s doors first opened. Order at the counter, nab some outdoor seating (on a sunny day), and watch the who’s-who of Auckland enjoy their flat whites.
Exposed-brick walls, ceiling-to-floor windows and Edison lightbulbs make the place feel as stripped back as the ingredients used in every plant-based menu item at Little Bird Kitchen. Most patrons of Little Bird are downing green smoothies from their extensive offerings, but the Fairtrade, organic coffee feels equally luxurious whether it’s brewed manually or steamed with nut milk.
In the Grey Lynn neighbourhood of Auckland lies Postal Service Café (formerly known as Kokako Cafe) a post-office-turned-café that serves up classic breakfasts with perfected pour-over coffee to wash it all down. White subway tiles and sunlights make the space bright and cheery. Here, even the simplest brunch staples are presented to be as appealing to the eyes as they are the stomach. Postal Service’s waffles aren’t just topped with maple syrup and butter. They’re given a legendary twist, topped with Earl Grey poached pears, vanilla bean coconut yogurt, and hazelnut syrup.