Albany is one of the newest areas of Auckland, incorporated into the city with the creation of the Auckland Council in 2010, a local political move that broadened Auckland's geographic borders considerably. Much of Albany used to be rural, and the northern reaches of the area still are; the suburb's shopping and eating destinations trend towards affordable food, large portions, and stuff like takeaway kebabs and bakeries.
Add to that list a very good new coffee bar: Black and Gold Coffee / Eatery, opened just a fortnight ago in Albany by co-owners David Huang and Kayoko Nakamura. Their goal is to bring something new to the area by focusing on sustainability, good food practices, and uncompromisingly serious coffee.
David Huan is the former co-owner of Espresso Workshop, and a fixture on the New Zealand competitive coffee circuit. He placed third nationally at the 2010 New Zealand Barista Championship, and was the runner up at the very first NZ Latte Art Championship in 2007. Mr. Huan has served as a sensory judge for multiple NZBC and NZ Latte Art Championship cycles. And not to be outdone, Huan's partner at Black And Gold, Kayoko Nakamura, has some competition experience herself, placing 4th nationally at the 2010 NZBC, and serving for many successive years as a volunteer at New Zealand coffee competitions.
Between the two of them, you're looking at a couple of distinguished New Zealand coffee professionals well-known in coffee circles around Auckland and beyond. You'd be hard-pressed to find better candidates to open Albany's first great coffee bar.
Black And Gold are serving coffee roasted by Coffee Supreme on a creamy white La San Marco Series 100 espresso machine. Their espresso program is all Brazilian to start: a caffeinated blend of Brazils on a Mazzer Robur grinder, and a Mazzer Jolly doser grinder with a Swiss Water decaffeinated Brazil. They also serve various single origins on a variety of brewing methods, including Hario syphon and V60 manual brews, cold drip for hot days, and a batch brew program based around the Technivorm Moccamaster.
Huan and Nakamura also have a Tiamo 801N 1KG roaster to play with, which Mr. Huan said might be used in the future to supplement the cafe's filter coffee offerings. All this coffee bounty, from brewed coffee to espresso, is being served in cups from ACME & Co., Wellington-based purveyors of distinctive ceramics.
Sustainability is as big a focus as the coffee at Black and Gold. As Mr. Huang told me, “Cafes in general waste a lot of food. Either from customers or from us throwing food away to ensure freshness. That’s a big issue and we should not be living in a wasteful manner. It contradicts my beliefs.”
Moving to Albany last year helped opened up new options, according to Huang: “We have more outdoor space and we started farming chickens and growing vegetables. That made us realizes the importance in utilizing resources.” To put the ideas into the eatery, unsold food goes back to their home garden as compost or as food for the fowl. Black and Gold plans to soon serve free-range eggs from their own chicken and vegetables from their farm, once they are able to increase the size of their farming operation.
The interior design concept was to create a space both “comfortable but functional,” using second hand items whenever possible, Huang told me. The fit-out echoes this idea in several ways: simple shelving made of recycled crates at the back of the counter; varnished timber shelving above the front kitchen counter; plywood boards separating the kitchen and dining area; and two plywood shelves displaying antique coffee brewers on each end of the eatery. The place invites you in with its folding-door entrance, and offers a series of communal tables for seating both inside and out.
As well as more standard fare such as cookies, scones, cakes, and sandwiches, there is also a full seasonal brunch menu, along with home-made smoothies. When I visited, Nakamura was busy baking some melt-in-your-mouth peanut butter and hazelnut cookies that paired well with my brewed coffee's subtle sweetness.
I asked Huan and Nakamura about the reception so far to their sustainable, coffee-forward eatery, in an area not necessarily known for either. “Customers are starting to accept this trend,” Huan told me. “The are willing to try this way of living.” As I left, I overheard a couple of new customers saying to each other: “Have you tried this place?” “No, but it looks too good to be true.”
Current hours: Monday – Friday, 7am – 4pm, may extend to weekends in the future. More information on Facebook.