New Zealand is home to some of the most beautiful cafe design in the world—there, we said it. This tiny country of just 4.4 million people continually punches above its weight class in the coffee world, and when paired with the country’s white-hot local food, craft beer, and natural wine scene, the end result is nothing short of a major destination for people who like delicious stuff (great sparkling water there too, if that’s your thing).
New Zealand is having A Moment, and it continues to be a source of inspiration for us at Sprudge. Today’s Kiwi stunner comes to us in the form of Homestead, a restaurant with a serious coffee program in suburban Auckland. Part historic home, part museum, Homestead is a playground of contemporary New Zealand food and beverage diversions, with coffee service overseen by the team behind Ceremony, a coffee bar in Auckland’s hip Grafton neighborhood. They’re serving Flight Coffee here on gear from La Marzocco and Technivorm, alongside a smart selection of beer and wine. Evenings see a rotating dinner series, and as you can clearly see the space is just stunning.
To learn more, I spoke digitally with Connor Nestor, a co-owner with the team behind Homestead and Ceremony.
First give me some nuts and bolts for Homestead—how many square feet is the house? What kit do you have in it—espresso machines, grinders, gear, etc.? Do you phase in different styles of service throughout the day?
Homestead is an eatery located within the walls of the Pah Homestead, an 1870s heritage building. It’s home to the James Wallace Arts Trust, who occupy the rest of the house with exhibitions from their extensive collection. (It’s the largest privately held collection for contemporary New Zealand art).
Sam Mannering heads the kitchen team serving up a seasonal menu driven by the location of the produce. The menu takes influences from European and Middle Eastern cooking with a New Zealand spin. Brunch starts at 8 a.m. and goes all day, then lunch kicks off at 11:30 a.m.. The salt cod bruschetta is a house favorite, and the smoked Kahawai crumpet has been the crowd favorite. It’s a sort of must have on your first visit.
Exceptional coffee is what Homestead does best. Irish expat JD Coulter (formerly of Lost & Found) is behind the tools, extracting Flight Coffee on the three-group La Marzocco Linea PB, and brewing Flight’s selection of single origins through the Moccamaster.
Talk to me about the growth of your efforts, from Ceremony to Homestead. What’s changed about what you do? What has stayed the same?
The transition between Ceremony and Homestead has been a fantastic challenge. Introducing table service and an à la carte menu has both been exciting and terrifying. Coming from our small beginnings at Ceremony, where the word “casual” reigns supreme, it’s been quite an adjustment. We love the contrast between the shops, the close-knit and youthful team at Homestead executes the more “formal” service incredibly well.
You’ve mentioned that education is a big part of what you do—tell us more about that.
Homestead is in the ‘burbs where specialty coffee and contemporary food is still very much a new thing. We are continuously introducing new beverages and dishes to the locals, and it’s what keeps it fun. It’s so rewarding getting great feedback on a flat white served in a 150-milliliter cup, from a die-hard latte in a bowl drinker. It’s nice to encourage people to try things that we’re into and see them pleasantly surprised once they do.
Tell us about your upcoming dinner series events.
Homestead is primarily a daytime shop but we have access to this amazing space all the time so we wanted to do special evening events to show it off and for our kitchen to create one-off seasonal dining menus. They’re dinners for 70 in the main drawing room of the gallery so diners will be surrounded by the latest exhibition, they can freely walk around the gallery before sitting down to a three-course dinner. Musical selections and floral installations from friends will add to the environment and, of course, there’ll be plenty of wine, beer, and a house-made cocktail for each event.
You guys are big on collaboration—tote bags with playlists, beanies, mugs, etc.—what’s been your favorite? What’s the inspiration behind doing this kind of stuff?
They’ve all been great and all serve different purposes. The collaborations have come from a need for something, then flipping that idea on its head to make it different. We work with people who we get on brilliantly with, that’s fundamental to us. The Nice Mug with Felicity (Wundaire) has definitely been a highlight, we originally just wanted them to use in the shop for filter. They got so much interest from our customers we decided to make some for retail. We’re just about to sell the 200th mug and because we want to keep them special for those who picked one up, once they’re done we’ll have to do something new.
The collaborations are just fun for us to work on, and they’re another touchpoint for our customers to have with Ceremony outside of the shop.
You’ve worked with Flight Coffee on all these projects, is that correct? Talk to us about that relationship—why Flight?
Flight are our boys. They are just a bunch of really nice people doing great things in the New Zealand coffee industry. Their coffee is delicious and it’s as we like to say, it’s the best in the country. They bring in some really special coffees from around the world. We are pretty lucky to have someone like Nick Clark to call upon for advice.
Auckland’s coffee scene is really exciting right now, and in general it feels like your big sprawling city is on the come-up. Where are the other spots around town you reckon people should check out, for food or wine or even other coffee spots? If you have some favorites from “right now” in the AKL scene, I would love to hear them.
We have some great cafes and specialist coffee shops here in Auckland. We’re big fans/regulars of Welcome who’re just up the road from Ceremony, they’re part of the Grafton massive. Great food, great coffee. Camper Coffee in Newmarket, where our boy Lee brews some of the best java in the city using Rocket Coffee. A couple of other faves are Major Sprout, The Fed, and any pop-up things Bearded Clam do (best burgers in town).
On the night front, Orphans Kitchen is always great for NZ dining, Chef Tom Hishon is carving out his own style and the Tuesday evening test kitchen is always quite exciting to check. Madame George is a really rad new joint that does great drinks, good food, and has a hell of a vibe. Another good joint that has just opened is Kiss Kiss. Thai street food done really well. They’re open all day and have two other sites—L’oeuf and Chinoiserie—which we frequent. There’s heaps of younger folk stepping into the hospo realm so it’s made for quite an exciting time in Auckland.
Jordan Michelman is a co-founder and editor at Sprudge Media Network. Read more Jordan Michelman on Sprudge.
Photos courtesy of Jordan Stent.