Posted by: Joan Spiller | October 5, 2011

Coffee Snob!

I have oft been accused of being one of these.. a statement I find amusing because last I checked a coffee snob couldn’t bring themselves to drink instant and I can totally drink instant coffee .. if there’s nothing else around.

However, when I pay for an espresso, I expect it to be good. If this approach makes me a snob, so be it.. (Seriously, we should be okay with mediocrity? mm .. no..)

When I moved from Wellington to Auckland umpteen years ago, I lost count of the number of watery, bitter and unpleasant coffees I left languishing on the table where I’d bought them.

Eventually, frustration (and a caffeine headache of monumental proportions) lead me to a coffee machine outlet, in Takapuna. My coffee snobbery journey started here!

I got to talking to the staff in the shop who made mention of things I had never heard before.. Words that now simply promise a good coffee, when I hear them. Over-extraction. Stretched proteins. Crema..  I had no bloody idea what they were on about initially.

So I went and did some research. Multiple library books were pored over.. I called into roasteries and talked to funky types who roasted their own beans and knew even more confusing terminology.

Then came the big day when I purchased my beloved ISOMAC (aka the insomniac for awhile as I drank too many coffees in those early days and didn’t sleep!)

A little scary, unpacking this beasty boy – I duly filled the water tank, plugged it in and set to reading the instructions. Well no actually .. I didn’t, I made a coffee .. it tasted like sh@t. Then I read the instruction booklet.

Tis fair to say there were some frustrations in having this machine and not really knowing how to use it. Heck I’d never stretched proteins before! The number of watery (made with milk, there’s an art in making milk watery, I tell you!) nasty coffees I made was both frustrating AND expensive.

Eventually, I sussed out how to use the machine and then came the even more traumatic experience of trialling coffee beans til I found one I was going to like enough to buy regularly.

Some very lovely friends bought me 100g of every coffee bean sold in a very cool shop in Auckland, that was awesome! And over the period of some weeks, each brown baggie had notes written on it as I sipped, supped and savoured (or spat out!) the black gold contained within.

The worst thing a baggie could get was a black X on it. That coffee was never purchased again.. It amazed me how many variations there could be .. of 25 bags of beans, I only liked 3 sufficient to purchase them again.

However, one day I happened to be in what soon became one of my fave places in Auckland – a store called Sabato, that sells everything heavenly on the planet. As you walk into this store you are offered a coffee. Of course, I said yes …

While I walked through the shop I couldn’t stop thinking about how yummy the coffee I was drinking tasted.

The shop only sold 250g or 1kg bags so I was a little scared but bought a small bag and duly took it home where it sat on the bench waiting for the morning “test” to take place. I am thrilled to say that it was every bit as good as the one I’d had in the shop!

I’ve stayed loyal ever since. To this day when I see a cafe with these on top of their coffee machines:

I can’t help but run in and beg them for a triple shot flat white..

Anyway long story short, I found a supplier of All Press beans in Wellington yesterday, and they made me a gorgeous cuppa while I was there too ..A very exciting day indeed!

If you’re in Featherston St and seeking a good coffee – talk to Nicci at Thunderbird Cafe, you won’t be disappointed!



  1. […] morning coffee isn’t just about having a coffee. It’s a ritual, no two ways about […]


  2. I thought I was a snob until I read this. I definitely cannot stomach a cup of soap I mean instant. I’m really excited to try All Press. Ive heard so many good things…
    The coffee situation near work is dire now. Memphis Belle is the closest good coffee I can find. Part of the religion for me is the atmosphere of the place you get your coffee. Stepping through MB’s doors, clutching a large trim FW, into loud external speakered jazz and people scraping themselves together with a coffee trawl is SO Wellington. I love it there.


    • I’ve heard MB is really good, I will try it this weekend and see how I go. Am now completely into the coffee (and the food is gorgeous too) at Thunderbird .. it’s sooo good!


    • hey I have never been there but have heard good things, so will take your recommendation and try it some time!


  3. I must be a snob …. I’d rather drink tea than instant coffee. I find it a pity you can’t get smaller amounts of beans to trial, just like yo got your 100gm packets. Mind you, I guess I haven’t looked THAT HARD to find somewhere that might sell smaller bags 🙂


    • Oh you can buy 100g at a time from cafes in Wgtn easily but 100g is still a lotta beans / money to throw out as per my gusto experience and my havana one *gags* Tea tho, really? Why are we friends again!??!???!


    • Oh lots of shops sell it in 100g (which is about 3 coffees) packets here! Fresher too so it’s all good ..


  4. I was blessed to get to operate the monster machine a few times after demonstrating some degree of skill and promising not to break it.


    • lmao @ Monster machine! You were indeed deemed responsible enough .. or thirsty, which was it?? 😉


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