Cafes and bakeries have this warming ability to foster communities. They often become part of our daily routine, whether it's for the specific way they make their coffee or the special treats that fill the cabinet. This year, New Zealand gained several cafes and bakeries that do just that – all bringing something fresh to their particular corner of the country.
Growing a following before committing to a bigger bricks-and-mortar space is a clever approach, and that’s what Tauranga bakery Breadhead has done so well. Having started life as the supplier for the also-popular Love Rosie Bakery (which Breadhead owners Brent and Kate Beamish founded and have now sold), Breadhead opened its expanded cafe in February so patrons can sit in for coffee and food. In the new space, a custom-made wood partition by local cabinet-maker Ian Edelston separates the cafe from the kitchen and bulbous antique white light shades punctuate the interior. Go for classic pain au chocolat, croissants, morning buns, almond bear claws and more. The country sourdough is a crowd favourite, but try the miso tahini sourdough for something different. Plus, there are sandwiches with simple yet generous fillings, such as roasted vegetables with blue cheese between slices of doughy ciabatta.
Not many people could successfully open a second venue just 50 metres away from their first, but Tom’s founder Tom Worthington has ensured Estelle has enough points of difference that both are standout destinations. The latter opened in May on the ground floor of shared workspace Qb Studios inside an old flour mill (part of the old, bright red gantry still stretches across the space’s high ceilings). Estelle head chef and Worthington’s good friend Will Lyons-Bowman is responsible for the venue’s high quality yet simple day-time menu, with dishes inspired by the food he grew up eating. Get a nostalgia hit from rice pudding with seasonal fruit, and toasts with toppings (no sandwiches here, head to Tom’s for those). Don’t leave without a cream-filled maritozzi.
Everyday Coffee, Auckland
We always like it when suburbs outside of the CBD gain a great new local, and Everyday Coffee is just that. Founders Sarah and Janusz Choromanski had a spot in Melbourne for the last few years, and upon returning to Aotearoa wanted to create a welcoming neighbourhood cafe that reflected their story. They did the recycled mataī fit-out themselves (Janusz leads architecture and interior design studio Native Design Workshop) and the result is a warm-feeling space that you want to linger in. Food-wise there are pastries and baked goods from Daily Bread, pretzels from Mount Roskill-based Bloom’s Pretzels, and Sarah and Janusz’s specialty, a bagel menu that pays tribute to their European and Pacific roots. Try Stan’s Deluxe – pastrami, cream cheese, pickle and sauerkraut with hot and sweet mustard – or the pisupo (corned beef) bagel that’s a Pacific take on a Reuben. Espresso comes courtesy of Allpress and the filter features speciality roasteries from here and abroad.
Lebanese Grocer, Auckland
Elie Assaf’s latest venture comes straight from the heart, and you can tell he’s putting his all into everything he’s done since opening Lebanese Grocer in March. Stop in at the Pitt Street store Tuesday to Saturday for Assaf’s savoury Lebanese specialities – ever-changing shawarma specials, sujuk sausage pita with pickles, falafel and more. There’s usually a tray of glistening baklava on the huge black marble counter and house-made dips to stock your home fridge with. Assaf’s using the shop as a base for his catering ventures, and it’s always worth keeping an eye out for special events – the chef is fond of collaboration and has built a solid community as a result.
Manis Bakery, Auckland
With Auckland’s saturation of bakeries, any newcomers need to stand apart from the rest. Since opening in January, Manis has done so by deftly combining Indonesian influences with French viennoiserie – expertly realised in part thanks to head baker and co-owner Safril Angga Saputra’s prior eight-year position as a baker at Amano. Order pie susu, a creamy Balinese milk tart that’s like a custard square, and nostalgic coffee buns (also known in some Asian countries as kopi roti or rotiboy). Manis also serves sweet and savoury martabak – a thick, doughy pancake that’s a popular street food dish in Indonesia. Having tried Manis’s pastries, we can honestly say you’re safe ordering any of the house-made sweets: the pistachio croissant is a particular stand-out.
Shelly Bay Baker, Wellington
While central Wellington city is easily walkable, it’s still notable when a suburban favourite opens a second venue closer to the CBD. Shelly Bay Baker moved into the spot formerly occupied by Leeds Street Bakery in April, meaning a drive to the Miramar flagship and warehouse (still operating) is no longer necessary. Founder Sam Forbes is passionate about sharing the joy (and superior taste) of organic bread made with New Zealand-grown, New Zealand-milled flour, and you can pick up Shelly Bay’s organic sourdough loaves from the new spot – and take a seat for coffee, generously filled sandwiches and sweets (including the beloved salted caramel cookie they’ve kept on from Leeds Street).
We haven’t included Daily Bread above because, while it’s worth noting the prolific bakery’s Britomart branch moved to the heritage Sofrana building this year, it’s still completing the build for a new 300-square-metre, 140-seat bakery and eatery next door. We’re excited.
Doughnut sensation Doe Donuts is also worth a shout-out; founders Shenine Dube and Grace Tauber have been growing their Cook Island-inspired doughnut business since 2016 and opened a new store in Commercial Bay this June to join their hot-pink Grey Lynn bakery. Stop in from 9am to 6pm, seven days a week, for all the Doe favourites including glazed and filled treats.