Hamilton & Waikato - crème de la crema of coffee roasters

Over the past two decades, expert coffee roasters and baristas have sprung up across the Hamilton and Waikato region, creating a major draw for locals and visitors alike.

Hamilton Coffee Roasters

One of these is Rocket Coffee in Hamilton.

Rocket Coffee, Hamilton, NZ

Rocket Coffee, Hamilton

“We wanted to do something different,” says co-founder Glen Crompton about opening the first Rocket café in 1995. “At the time, there was nothing like it in Hamilton.”

Rocket Coffee operates a roastery and adjoining café in Hamilton’s Barton St, as well as another recently opened café, the SL28, also in Hamilton.

Roasting coffee is what interests Mr Crompton most. “It’s all about letting the coffee beans tell the story of where they come from. It’s an interesting way to introduce New Zealanders to the cultures of the world.”

Hamiltonians are in fact spoilt for choice with several other dedicated roasters calling the city home as well. There’s also Laroma, in nearby Frankton, where customers can bring their own lunch while experiencing one of the expresso bar’s exotic coffee roasts and new-kids-on the block, the Manuka Brothers, can be found selling their fresh, artisan coffee at the Hamilton Farmers’ Market.

Rocket Coffee Roasters, Hamilton, New Zealand

Online purveyor Weka Espresso has made a name for itself selling its quality coffee roasts on the ‘world wide web’, and while not a roaster themselves, Urge, a coffee and tea boutique located in the heart of the CBD is also a local Hamilton favourite. It boasts over 20 different coffee blends and roasts, which are sold as beans as well as ground coffee. Other specialist espresso bars in the central city include Union and Demi-Urgos which offers drip filter chemex alongside all the favourite espresso options.

Further Afield

Further afield other coffee roasters have built up their businesses in the region’s smaller towns, including Essenza Coffee Company, which operates out of a converted dairy shed on a dairy farm 11km from Morrinsville, and Red Cherry in Cambridge, which runs a popular café and shop and also produces Nespresso compatible capsules using its own blends.

In the south of the region Roger Sheppard from Origin Coffee believes people will go out of their way for a good coffee.

Raglan Roast, Coffee Shop, Raglan NZ

Raglan Roast

A former coffee plantation owner in Malawi, Mr Sheppard founded the Origin espresso bar and roastery in Otorohanga soon after immigrating to New Zealand in 1998. He says being on the route to the Waitomo Caves means there is a fair amount of tourist traffic, which is good for business.

“We get a lot of people turning up here from all over the world who are really happy to get a decent coffee.”

Surfer and entrepreneur Tony Bruce opened his first hole-in-the-wall coffee shop in Raglan in 1998, followed by a roastery several years later. He and business partner Bobo run eight cafes around the country and are looking to expand further.

Mr Bruce says Raglan Roast’s formula is simple and effective: good coffee at affordable prices, in pared-down settings.

“We cut to the chase. We’re all about coffee. People don’t come to us for bacon and eggs or trendiness, that’s for sure.’