The owner of my favourite espresso bar, Ben Boyle, has a background in metaphysics - I'm not sure if this has any bearing on his coffee-making ability, but it makes for interesting conversation while you enjoy his product. Ben makes a flat white that is smooth, with fruitful notes, complemented by well textured, hot - but not too hot - milk. His espresso is elegant, portraying the bean origins in a well-matched blend, with notes of stone fruit and cocoa.
Ben established his self-named cafe in Fort St in Auckland's CBD four years ago. The decor is cosy and modern, with an aroma aided by his on-site coffee-roaster. Roasting both single origin and blends, and offering espresso, syphon and cold drip filter coffee, Ben is a solid experience for any coffee enthusiast, but also for those who just love a "good" cup of coffee.
Many specialty coffee stores like Ben have begun to promote filter coffees, which gained a bad name through the 70s and 80s but are now making a comeback thanks to improved technology that makes the process a lot cleaner, enabling perfect extraction.
Drop into Ben sometime to try for yourself.
Ben, 57 Fort St, Auckland Central. Open Saturday 9am-1.30pm, weekdays 7am-4pm.
* Hans Pronk is a top Auckland barista who owns ME Coffee Boutique in the CBD and roasting company Merito Espresso.