“How do you take your coffee?” People automatically understand that question is in reference to important details like sugar or milk substitutes, whether you want a quintessential flat white, a Macchiato or maybe you want to get a little crazy with an espresso?
But when you’re trying to figure out a place to grab a coffee, especially in a city like Auckland, it’s become less about the milk and coffee offerings (because, these days, where can’t you find a flat white on the menu) and more about the ambience of the cafe you’re ordering from, the beans roasted and the skills of the barista.
It’s all about quality, not quantity.
We Aucklanders take pride in turning our noses up at the flavour-added milky concoctions peddled by the like of Starbucks and Esquires and know that good coffee is a short drink, served in diminutive cups that look like they were made for woodland sprites. You won’t find any Unicorn-Green-Tea-Crème-Strawberry-Blossom-Frappés on this list, only hot spots for connoisseurs in search of their favoured black beverage.
It all comes down to personal preference: There are hipster hot-spots to commune over coffee and avocado toast, contemporary hubs with vast seating arrangements for on-the-fly business meetings, and tiny to-go counters for when you’re in a rush and just need a quick fix — and maybe some sugary temptation from the cabinet.
Whether you’re a bonafide coffee freak or a closeted caffeine addict (we are not here to judge), tea fiend or just in search of a trendy spot for brunch, the best cafés in Auckland CBD will have you covered.
183 Karangahape Road, Auckland CBD
A light and airy cafe located in the gorgeous St Kevin’s Arcade just off K Road that does its phenomenal location proud. Expect high-quality coffee with friendly, community-driven vibes and gorgeous views across Myers Park out to the Sky Tower.
Coffee Brewed: Eighthirty coffee.
Favourite Treat: The Fish finger sandwich with dill pickles, over easy egg, American cheese, lettuce & siracha-tarragon mayo.
Best for: Afternoon coffee in the sun or weekend morning brunches.
1 Kitchener Street, Auckland CBD
Clean, sleek and with gloriously high windows, this chic cafe perched on the first floor of the Gallery pours rich and flavourful brews in a space that combines a high-end coffee experience with delightful cabinet food and light bites.
With both indoor and outdoor seating and a separate entrance, so you can nip in via the entrance off Albert Park, the Auckland Art Gallery Cafe would be one of the best cafes in Auckland even without its artistic surroundings. Since the Auckland Art Gallery is free for residents to explore, you can always take a look around before or after. One of the flagship cafes of Mojo Coffee Cartel in Auckland (see below), but worthy of recognition in its own right.
Coffee Brewed: Mojo coffee.
Favourite Treat: The Best Ugly Bagel with cured salmon, herbed mascarpone cream cheese and pickled onion.
Best for: Caffeination and socialisation before or after artistic pursuits.
43 High Street, Auckland CBD
Tucked away down a corridor off High Street is a covered courtyard oasis among the surrounding high-rises, Chuffed is our favourite secret spot in the city.
Chuffed harkens back to simpler days, where you could count on great service and consistency at your local – which it will probably become quite quickly once you discover it. Grab a seat outdoor if you can and make the most of sunny weather on a good day.
Coffee Brewed: Chuffed special blend.
Favourite Treat: Home-made crumpets with gin cured salmon.
Best for: Catching a break from a shopping frenzy on High Street.
16 Anzac Avenue, Auckland CBD
Eighthirty is specialty coffee culture at its finest. The Anzac Ave’ Roasting Department’ headquarters combine a roastery with a lab, tasting bar and the heart of the distribution centre while funky, hipster outposts on K Road and Ponsonby help keep the masses caffeinated.
Their coffee selection changes depending on what’s available and what’s good, and is served by other excellent cafes around Auckland. When we lasted visited, they had a superb Brazilian single-origin espresso and a Fairtrade swiss water process decaf.
Coffee Brewed: Eighthirty.
Favourite Treat: Cajun chicken baguettes.
Best for: The smell of freshly roasted coffee in an off-beat industrial surrounding.
11 Britomart Place, Auckland CBD
Taking a cue from Sweden’s Fika coffee culture, Espresso Workshop Britomart is a light, airy and intimate space that serves food, pastries and, of course, quality coffee in the heart of Britomart.
This chill spot encourages slowing down and taking a midday break from the ever-bustling city centre with spacious indoor and outdoor seating for sublime people watching. Espresso Workshop’s mission is to serve ‘fantastic flavour in every cup’ – and they achieve this through a range of third-wave brewing methods including siphon, chemex and aeropress.
Roasting their own coffee nearby in Orakei Bay Village, it’s reasonable to say the team at Espresso Workshop are obsessed about coffee, and what they don’t know about sourcing, roasting and serving exceptional coffee probably isn’t worth knowing.
Coffee Brewed: Espresso Workshop.
Favourite Treat: The cinnamon rolls.
Best for: Speciality coffee brews.
Commercial Bay, Auckland CBD
A new concept for specialty coffee in the heart of New Zealand’s newest shopping centre, Kōkako is the third Kōkako branded coffee space in their 19-year history and is very much looking to the future.
More of a coffee bar than a cafe, but despite this, the natural timber wall alongside a variety of innovative sustainable materials make it one of our favourite spots in the CBD for a coffee. The coffee offering is extensive, including multiple daily batch brews, four dedicated taps with a nitrogenated cold brew, Cascara Kombucha and a rotating selection of coffee-related beverages developed in-house.
Very much a temple to coffee, and one that we will gladly worship at time and time again.
Coffee Brewed: Kōkako.
Favourite Treat: You can’t go wrong with any of the sweet treats in the tiny cabinet.
Best for: Appreciating perfectly executed design and watching the meticulous theatre of coffee brewing.
21 Graham Street, Auckland CBD
An energetic and spacious inner-city cafe with a focus on innovative, beautifully plated food just up the road from Spark mega-complex and Victoria Park. O
pen for breakfast and lunch the large windows invite you into the gorgeous interior filled with plenty of potted greenery and make Major Sprout an easy choice for exquisite food with a Korean flair, great coffee and efficient service. They are even open on Sunday!
Coffee Brewed: Flight Coffee.
Favourite Treat: The over-the-top-Insta-ready Banana Bread French Toast.
Best for: Trendy Inner-city brunching with friends.
Vulcan Lane, Auckland CBD
Almost 25 years after opening its original outpost on the iconic Vulcan Lane, this modern coffee shop has expanded into numerous locations across the wider Auckland.
Their Vulcan Lane location has great outdoor seating and is perfect for people-watching, though their three other Auckland locations on Queen, Albert and Victoria Street are more aimed at busy working bees who needs a quick caffeine hit. Expect high-quality coffee with delicious cabinet food.
Coffee Brewed: Melba Blend.
Favourite Treat: The Cubano Sandwich.
Best for: Sitting right outside in the lane and watching the world go by.
31 Cross Street, Auckland CBD
Ok, it’s not a cafe but still deserving of a shout out. Millers Coffee, a bohemian coffee roastery tucked away from the bustle of K-road on Cross St, is run by the brilliant Craig Miller, considered by some to be the Godfather of Coffee in Auckland. He’s being roasting here and in nearby Grafton since 1986.
You won’t find any fancy modern interior design or aeropress here, Millers is old-school to its core and focus on doing one thing and one thing well; coffee roasting. There are espresso, black and white coffee options, and you can appreciate the aroma, body, acidity, flavour and aftertaste of the coffee. It’s all served with sparkling water too!
Their freshly roasted coffee beans are sold on-premise and fly off the shelf, chances are you’ll want to leave with a bag or two yourself.
Coffee Brewed: Millers.
Favourite Treat: Taking a bag of beans home for later.
Best for: Simple, old-school, quality espresso.
If you haven’t heard of these guys, you must have been living up a rock for the past few years as Mojo has taken Auckland CBD by storm.
A boutique roastery café started in Wellington in 2013; Mojo is now one of New Zealand’s biggest independent coffee roasters and café operators with 38 locations including 4 in Chicago. And you know us kiwis just love a home-grown company that takes it to the world.
Mojo has 12 Auckland locations, but the most impressive of the bunch is Mojo Viaduct Harbour, which is spacious, with various zones and contemporary meeting spaces suited to laptop work, meetings or catch-ups. Unlike Starbucks and the likes, each store of Mojo is unique and architecturally designed specifically for the location.
We also love their Durham Street and Bledisloe Lane locations for a cheeky early-morning egg and coffee breakfast before work. While we lament the seemingly relentless takeover of Mojo Coffee Cartel in Auckland City, the customer service and coffee is always flawless.
Coffee Brewed: Mojo.
Favourite Treat: Eggs cooked-as-you-like-it on sourdough.
Best for: Getting some laptop work done in a sunny setting.
55 Shortland Street, Auckland CBD
A local cafe on Shortland St popular with suits who occupy the surrounding tower blocks, offering a full and unexpectedly creative menu. The space is simple and airy, with Tom Dixon-esque ultramodern light fixtures to draw you inside like a moth to a caffeine flame.
Their fresh baking is exceptional, as you would expect as Pollen is owned by the team behind Scratch Bakers, who do all their baking every night nearby and roast coffee daily at 3 Beans Coffee in City Works Depot.
Coffee Brewed: 3 Beans Coffee.
Favourite Treat: Pork Belly Apple Cider Pies.
Best for: Hectic CBD workers wanting a coffee and baking fix.
1 Wellesley Street West, Auckland CBD
A homely little coffee shop tucked in just off Queen Street that screams hipster Wellington more than Auckland chic — and that’s what its regulars love about it.
Quirky and unpretentious, the chairs wobble, and it has a ‘I’m ordering coffee in someone’s living room’ vibe, but there is a fun comic book collection and movie memorabilia to make up for it.
Coffee Brewed: Red Rabbit.
Favourite Treat: The breakfast burrito.
Best for: Those who miss the Wellington coffee scene and won’t shut up about it.
34 Sale Street, Auckland CBD
Rude Boy is brought to us by the same folks behind ultra-cool Parnell eatery Winona Forever and Friday I’m In Love in Freeman’s Bay. Aside from having a killer atmosphere in the heart of Sales Street, the innovative spot offers a drool-worthy selection of baked goods in what must be Auckland’s longest cabinet, along with a just-as-standout a la carte.
Set in a sun-drenched modern space with colourful murals and coffee cups with a surprise at the end, Rude Boy is an edgy standby for memorable meals and along with kick-ass-coffee.
Coffee Brewed: Supreme.
Favourite Treat: The RFC (Rude Boy fried chicken); buttermilk fried chicken with hash-tag fries, coleslaw and chipotle aioli.
Best for: Weekdays meetings or weekend brunches with the post-workout Les Mills crowd.
33 Victoria Street East, Auckland CBD
More than just one of the best cafes in Auckland CBD, Scarecrow is a fashionable urban farmers market and florist to boot, concentrating on locally sourced, organic offerings. The abundant selection of artisan local NZ products tastefully lining the shelves, along with colourful flowers, open-kitchen and wooden tables makes Scarecrow distinctive and much beloved by inner-city apartment dwellers.
Enjoy an exceptional flat white or a European-style meals with antipodean twists, then pick up some fresh eggs or baked breads along with organic, unpasteurised old school pints of milk to take home with you. There is nothing quite like it, and Auckland is all the better off for it.
Coffee Brewed: Kōkako.
Favourite Treat: The Decadent Date from the cabinet.
Best for: Anyone with interest in wholesome treats and energising surroundings.
22 Customs Street East, Britomart
The Shaky Isles was once a nickname for New Zealand, and although its usage there is now somewhat dated; it is still fairly widely used in Australia — and in Auckland now refers to an edgy local coffee chain. Founded in 2008 by a pair of passionate coffee lovers, The Shaky Isles Coffee Company aims to reflect and enhance New Zealand’s coffee culture, infusing it with a bit of fun, while remaining deadly serious about quality and flavour.
Their flagship store at Britomart has everything you could possibly need; spacious and versatile seating, rustic decor, an extensive cabinet selection and comical graphics adorning the wall. Shaky Isles also has an Auckland Uni location to keep the Uni kids studying through the night, should you be up that way.
Coffee Brewed: Shaky Isles.
Favourite Treat: The Açaí bowls.
Best for: Morning meeting or an on-the-go fix for those arriving by train.
15 Customs Street West, Auckland CBD
Newly opened, this absolutely astonishing place is located on Level 7 of PwC building and is open to the public. Inside you will find a vast, light-filled Sky Lobby with Spectra at its heart, a contemporary cafe serving approachable food and coffee.
A hidden gem from the hospitality group Woozoo, who are also responsible for the equally impressive Albany-based Fields and Percy out near Auckland Airport, the secret won’t last long. Access is via escalators from Customs Street or through Commercial Bay.
Coffee Brewed: Kōkako.
Favourite Treat: The seaside benedict, with brioche loaf, prawn and crab patty and laksa hollandaise.
Best for: Cosmopolitan dining and caffeinating.
5B Gore Street, Britomart
The Store has become a Britomart staple, run by the Hip Group, who also run Amano, Milse and Ortalana nearby. This stylish cafe-store-hybrid offer sweet and savoury snacks and seasonally-inspired meals.
You can grab yourself a coffee and sweet treat on the go, or indulge in alfresco dining with casual, European inspired meals in a sun-filled Britomart courtyard. Either way — you won’t regret it.
Coffee Brewed: Allpress.
Favourite Treat: The cabinet doughnuts.
Best for: A hip brunch in a super-central location.
85 Daldy Street, Wynyard Quarter
We don’t do an award for the best-looking coffee shop but if we did, the Nordic industrial-chic Williams Eatery in Wynyard Quarter would probably win. It’s a stunningly well-designed space with a fantastic coffee program from, a food line-up that is as innovative as it is delicious, indoor and outdoor seating and service that puts most other cafes to shame.
Williams Eatery just knows how to do all those simple things right, and we will always go out of our way to dine here.
Coffee Brewed: Flight Coffee.
Favourite Treat: The Jerusalem artichoke with goats cheese, kale, garlic & thyme honey on sourdough was to die for.
Best for: A sophisticated weekend brunch.