A Locals Guide to the Best Coffee in Wanaka

17 February 2020

The first thing to know on arrival in town is that the majority in cafes in Wanaka have banded together and adopted a single use coffee cup free environment. For visitors this means a "sit, bring or borrow" scenario or pay a small deposit on your own cup at the café which you can keep & return before departure for a refund!  Another Wanaka tip for being more sustainable on holiday is to remember that our supermarkets are plastic bag free. Take your own if you are picking up provisions or they are available to purchase in-store.

Back to the beans. Great beans in a great location is the perfect marriage! 

Be like a local and for an early morning kick and visit The Coffee Shack on Brownston Street. Cold brew, hot brew, filter and everything in between. Owner Bonnie, is the queen of multi tasking, pet name and loyalty card recall. The best coffee maker in town brews from 85% graded green beans and steams all milk types. If you are accompanied by a furry friend expect a polaroid to be taken for the photo wall (check out our very own gorgeous corgi, Daisy, top left with the * for favourite!). 

Pembroke Pattisserie is more than worth a little trip to Albert Town, which is so much more than a little suburb on the fringes of Wanaka.  This award winning café produces exceptional coffee which tastes even better with a freshly baked treat from the cabinet.  Take out, leave the car, avoid people and combine with an early morning walk along the Outlet Track or simply cross the road and stroll alongside one of the most beautiful rivers in New Zealand, the Clutha.

Back on the other side of Wanaka township, if you want to combine coffee with a walk, bike, paddleboard and spectacular scenery, take a left at the lake and head past ‘that’ Wanaka tree looking out for the blackboard sign on the path to the Edgewater Café. If you are arriving on the water, ‘park’ your paddleboard or kayak on the beach and wander up to this cafe for your coffee fix.  On a calm day, you too can hire your own paddleboards or kayaks on the Wanaka lakefront.  With it’s beautifully manicured lawns, this sheltered haven is not your typical hotel café and is a favourite of locals offering breathtaking lake views & perfectly manicured lawns. For visitors to New Zealand, a coffee experience isn’t complete without trying an iconic favourite a ‘scone’ & this cafe has a reputation for best in town. Locals tip:  they are big, one is perfect for two! (Definition of a scone: a calorie-laden buttery fluffy miracle, best served warm with butter & homemade jam or savoury with cheese) 

For a grab and go coffee Fedeli is tucked down an alley off Helwick Street in town.  On-trend city style in decor, a speedy hipster barista and offering up a very pretty hard-to-resist range of vegan and gluten-free treats to take with you.

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Florences Foodstore is hidden behind a perfectly coiffed olive tree hedge on the edge of town off Cardrona Road.  It is recommended not to visit Florences in a hurry.  The terraced gardens and rustic interiors invite procrastination and a second coffee order.  Francophile’s can enjoy delicious croque monsieur and find the room in your suitcase to take home a memory of Wanaka with the stores' selection of locally made candles, handmade postcards and delicious preserves.

The most rewarding coffee has to be found at the Hawea Store & Kitchen after a 10km + bike (or e-bike for the less energetic) relatively easy ride out of town or 10-minute drive. Enjoy a well-deserved coffee in the authentic grocer store which is a community hub for the locals. Insiders tip – at the other end of the day they also do the best fish and chips of anywhere! Pick up a parcel and enjoy down on the shores of Lake Hawea.

And finally, if you want to make the most of your luxury holiday home, and prepare your own Kiwi Caffeinated treat this summer instead of venturing to town, why not make yourself a cold-brew iced vanilla latte – well known New Zealand Chef, Nadia Lim, celebrates the summer and her recent move to the region with a recipe for what seems to be the new coffee du jour:  

Cold-brew iced vanilla latte

Ready in 15 minutes plus overnight brewing – Serves 6 (gluten free)

  • 1 cup coarsely ground coffee beans (Wanaka’s only roasters of fresh beans, Venus Coffee is available at at various stockists in town – request yours ground to order)
  • 1 litre water, at room temperature

VANILLA SYRUP

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 vanilla bean, split

PER SERVE

  • 1 cup ice-cubes
  • 1/2 cup cold-brew coffee
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla syrup, or to taste
  • 1/2-3/4 cup milk chilled

1. The day before, place coffee and water in a jug, stir, cover and set aside on the bench for 6-12 hours (or refrigerate if you prefer). Strain through a coffee filter or double layer of kitchen towel placed in a sieve, then sore in the fridge.

2. For the vanilla syrup, combine sugar and water in a small saucepan, add the split vanilla bean and bring to a simmer.  Simmer gently for 5 minutes then cool, pour into a screw-top jar and store in the firdge.  The vanilla flavour will intensify the longer you leave it. 

3. To make your iced vanilla latte, place ice cubes in a tall glass, add the cold-brew coffee and vanilla syrup then top up with ice-cold milk using the quantities listed above.

Recipe courtesy of Nadia Magazine, Feb/March 2020

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