In a former barbershop on O’Connell Street in Auckland’s CBD, Rumours Specialty Coffee is a pared-back new espresso bar with a singular focus: coffee made with single origin beans.

“Our intention with Rumours was simple: good coffee with a good ambience,” owner Danny Lee tells Broadsheet. It’s designed to be a welcoming oasis in the middle of the city, where people who won’t settle for a mediocre brew (probably most daily coffee drinkers) can be sure their regular order is made with skill and care – and a point of difference.

“Everyone has different preferences, but I find [that] coffee [made] with single origin beans has more distinctive flavours to offer,” he says.

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Despite our thriving local coffee culture, single origin isn’t usually the default grind for local cafes, says Lee. Rumours’ beans are supplied by Society Coffee. Based on Auckland’s North Shore, Society works with like-minded businesses that are passionate about the bean’s origins, farming methods and flavour notes.

Lee has also imported beans from Lowkey Coffee, a specialty cafe and small-batch roaster in South Korea. It ships its coffee on the same day it’s roasted, he says, so when it arrives around a week later it’s perfectly aged.

Lee has been a full-time barista since 2015, working in hospitality in Korea, at nationwide New Zealand company Mojo and at Albany eatery Fields Cafe. He also used to work on O’Connell Street and loved the glass-fronted space where Rumours now stands. With the opening of his first cafe, he’s excited to be a part of things as the city centre steadily comes back to life.

Rumours’ space is compact and minimal. The interior is a visual reflection of what you’ll get in the cup, with a floor-to-ceiling oaky beige colour palette – like being enveloped in a warm latte. Perch on a stool at one end of the large central island, or gaze out to the street on the low bench by the front window.

Those looking for a hazelnut single shot latte and smashed avo should head elsewhere – but you will find filter coffee (single origin, of course), dairy alternatives (oat milk and soy) and a small selection of pastries from The Real Bread Project. Lee says they’re in the process of fine-tuning house-made sweet treats, to come. There’s also Fine & Dandy tea and sparkling water from Almighty for the non-coffee inclined. And yes, they do decaf.

When asked what inspired the name, Lee says it relates to the original promotional powerhouse: word of mouth. Before Google, before social media, when it was just good old real-life recommendations. While the word “rumours” can have negative connotations, Lee says he’s opting for a positive spin. “We want to be that rumour you’d trust with your closest friend.”

Rumours Specialty Coffee
19 O’Connell Street, Auckland

Mon to Fri 7am–3.30pm
Sat 8am–2.30pm


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