With New Zealand's coffee being more recognised internationally, the cafe scene in Auckland is growing exponentially each year - not only the number of cafes but the standard as well. Having good food and drinks is not enough these days to become a popular spot - a combination of branding, marketing, service and unique offerings is required.
Having been working with hospitality businesses for over seven years, I have visited hundreds of cafes. Personally, I feel there are more than enough cafes in Auckland... Which is a great thing for us, the locals, because we are spoilt with many choices but at the same time, it is often challenging for the cafe owners due to competition and market saturation.
On my Instagram, I get asked for cafe recommendations almost every day. So thought I would share my top twelve cafes in Auckland Central. Good coffee is one of the first things I look for when visiting a cafe - so expect all of the places on this list to have great coffee.
Below is my list of the 12 best cafes in Auckland Central, where I explain the what and why; the list is not in a particular order.
Located in Eden Terrace, Benedict's opened in 2020 and quickly became one of the busiest cafes in the area. Its spacious, industrial yet modern atmosphere makes it a popular spot for the locals.
Benedict's has some of the best cafe dishes I have ever tried - a few dishes I would recommend are Eggs Benedict with thick bacon, Octopus and my personal favourite, Beef Cheek.
With fast WiFi available, it is also a great spot for you to study or work.
It is one of my most visited cafes in Auckland.
This Nordic-themed cafe in Remuera is another iconic spot in the area. The interior is very bright and clean - the white and beige colour combination of the interior reminds you of that minimalistic Swedish interior design.
Coffee is great - they serve one of my favourite coffee brands, Eighthirty. I usually go for their flat white but they are famous for their deconstructed coffees.
Food is also great - Seafood Chowder is one of my favourite dishes from their menu. Do note though, that their portions are a little big when compared to other cafes - which is a good problem.
They have fast WiFi - it's also one of my favourite spots to work at.
This multi-award-wining cafe serves one of the best coffees in the entire Auckland. Using Rocket Coffee beans, which is my current favourite, their coffee is super velvety, smooth and rich in flavour.
Chuffed's entrance is a little hidden though - there is a corridor on 43 High Street where you have to walk past to get to the cafe. Once you are in, don't be disappointed by how small it is inside; behind the door at the back, there is an open, spacious interior.
All their food is good - if you are visiting for the first time, I definitely recommend trying one of their toasties or sandwiches; they are famous for those.
Lily Eatery recently opened its second location in Freemans Bay and just like their Devonport store, you can find some of the best dishes and cabinet food in town. My personal favourite is their basque cheesecake (pictured above), which is one of the best I have had.
The team at Lily Eatery Freemans Bay is very friendly and passionate - their customer service is one of the best I have ever experienced.
They also serve Eighthirty coffee beans.
Found in the centre of Commercial Bay, Lieutenant cafe is all about great food, coffee and fast + precise service - just like the name suggests.
Their own Lieutenant coffee blend has one of the most chocolatey and rich flavour profiles I have tasted. I usually get a triple shot but there is no bitterness - just increases its rich, chocolate and caramel flavours.
Across the main cafe, you can also find Little Lieutenant, which is located inside the Jarden House - it only opens during the weekdays. It is one of my favourite places to work because there are so many comfortable seats; sharing the lobby with corporate companies in the same building, its smart environment is less noisy compared to the main cafe area. Perfect, if you want to focus on getting some study/work done while sipping on great coffee.
It has now been well over 25 years since this Melba location opened on the iconic Vulcan Lane and they are still offering some of the best food and coffee in town.
The vibe of Vulcan Lane will make you feel like you are in Europe, especially if you are sitting outside.
Melba roasts their own coffee blend and it is also amazing - round body, chocolate, caramel with gentle fruity acidity, coffee tastes great - both with milk and without.
Next time you are looking to catch up with friends or want to host a meeting in town, try visiting here.
Grey Lynn is full of amazing cafes and Ozone Coffee Roasters' eatery is one of them. The interior with a high ceiling and open kitchen is one of my all-time favourites. There are plenty of seats available but I do recommend you to book via their website because they get very busy.
Their coffee is great. For food, I recommend you to try their Smoked Fish Kedgeree and Eggs Benedict, served with bubble n' squeak.
Mall cafes usually don't have a great reputation - mainly because they are optimised to serve as fast as they can, which can affect the quality. This often results in burnt coffee and overcooked (or undercooked) food.
Leafe Cafe, on the other hand, they are great. Located in Westfield Newmarket, the interior is beautiful and spacious. Serving Atomic Coffee, you know they take coffee seriously. In addition, their cold brew coffee is one of the best in town; served in a glass flask, give it a go if you are wanting a smooth yet rich cold coffee.
I usually get their Smoked Salmon & Prawn Risotto or Omelette... And of course, their service is fantastic as well.
And if you are wanting to use your laptop, connect to Leafe Cafe's free WiFi instead of Westfield's because it is faster.
Possibly one of the hottest spots that opened on O'Connell Street in Auckland CBD, Rumours Coffee's interior is very simple but modern and elegant.
I am sure you have seen many people sharing this place via their social media. Yes, the interior is one part but their coffee is also amazing.
My recommendation for you is their triple shot flat white - regular size.
The EOS Coffee is very special because the owner was the 2019 & 2020 New Zealand National Latte Art Champion. So the experience, knowledge and passion of the team behind this place is on the next level, particularly when it comes to coffee and their latte art.
This coffee bar located in Queens Arcade serves their unique coffee blend, which Mojo Coffee Roasters exclusively roasts for them. Not only you will be amazed by their latte art and the quality of their coffee but you will also love the flavour profiles, too.
Part of the Park Hyatt hotel in Auckland CBD, The Pantry is a spacious cafe with soft lighting inside. They use Eighthirty coffee beans so you can expect great coffee but the main reason I am recommending this place is because of their cabinet food range - more specifically the sweets.
The sweet pastries are curated and made by Park Hyatt's talented pastry chefs. They look beautiful while not being over-priced... And of course, they taste great also.
Just make sure to get there early so you can see their entire sweet pastry range for the day.
Compared to other places on this list, I recently discovered Rude Boy cafe and its first impression was amazing. Their cabinet is full of beautiful cakes; I can comfortably say there are no other cafes in Auckland that can match what Rude Boy is offering. And each slice of the cake is generous in size - I would say it is quite big... So again, I guess it is a good problem.
The interior is colourful with plenty of seats available. One downside(?) when you visit this place is that you may be standing looking awkward by the counter because there are so many choices to pick from the cabinet; perhaps ask their friendly staff for suggestions, which is something I should have done.
If you visit any of the cafes here, send me a message and let me know what you think!
Founder & Editor | Say Seowon Song
I run Caramel, a creative + strategy agency helping hospitality and luxury businesses win. I started Fork & Truffle Magazine to talk about business, cafes, restaurants, luxury and watches while providing value to the readers.