The Coffee Lab (Not our own)
This is our second year visiting Coffee Lab (see May 9, 2012). It is where one has to go in New Zealand, being one of the the top cafes and roasters anywhere on this planet. Its continued dedication to roasting quality coffee and making it so very well makes it a delightful and educational experience. Seven key elements come together at Coffee Lab, all necessary for a coffee pilgrimage site: high quality beans, excellent roasting, superb barista, high end equipment, an attitude of genuine friendliness, a pleasant quiet space to taste and discuss the art of coffee and a willingness to share and educate. Cupping roasts with Anna, watching and learning about roasting was a marvelous encounter with attention to detail. We learned plenty and came away with some very fine coffees.
As a traveller and explorer of great cafes/coffees, we are open-minded to having mediocre coffees because it is just part of it, but Ben is one of those barista's that we are always hopeful to meet; but we know this kind of expertise and friendliness is a very rare encounter! We ordered one of every bean going for the espresso machine and Ben was happy to do so, and demonstrate different flavours by altering the extraction times, dosage, and tamping for an espresso, then experiment with subtiles of flavour with piccolos (cortados). Ben has a passion for coffee, including latte art that you can taste consistently over and over. And with his passion and expertise exposes, perhaps opens the beans that are obviously roasted to perfection by Anna, all the much better. We like the space, and the food is excellent.