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How to Order a Coffee in New Zealand (and Other Observations)

Coffee-Nz-SnipNew Zealand seems to have much more of a cafe culture than Australia — it’s almost Vancouverish sometimes. Smallish Dunedin, for instance, is dotted with cool, funky little coffee shops and every town seems to have a few. As in Australia, you order coffee by specifying its colour, length, height and orientation, though not all combinations are valid. You can get a “flat white” (which is very tasty), or a “tall short black” (which isn’t), but not a “flat black”. I think. However, Kiwis seem to like their coffee a lot stronger than Aussies (who seem to prefer tea, anyway), so a flat white in NZ is a fair bit more potent than one from Australia. Espresso drink prices are about the same as Canada, but drip coffee usually costs the same as espresso coffee, which makes it insanely expensive by Canadian standards.

And a French press is just called a “plunger”. I bought one the day I was forced to drink New Zealand instant coffee.

Like Australia, New Zealand doesn’t have tipping, and restaurant service tends to be pretty awful by North American standards. Perversely bad, almost — you get friendlier service at a post office or supermarket than a pub. And the guy at the Dunedin visitor’s centre was openly patronizing. However, I’ve found that kiwis who aren’t actually in the service industry are extremely friendly and helpful, even when they assume I’m American. (My hands-down least-favorite experience in Australia was people who were rude to me right up to the moment they found out I was Canadian.)

Also, I have to say, I really like the kiwi accent, especially hearing middle-aged women or kids. It just sounds so cheery and chirpy. And a lot of kiwis seem to have a cheerfully sarcastic sense of humour, of which I approve greatly.

Okay, there’s more, like my trip to Milford Sound (which is, alone, worth the price of a ticket to NZ), but I’m writing this in a coffee shop in Queenstown and I can’t find any place to charge my laptop battery, so it will have to wait for later.