Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Some big coffee chains fail the barista test

Top barista Hanna Teramoto from Espresso Workshop. Photo / Michael Craig
Top barista Hanna Teramoto from Espresso Workshop. Photo / Michael Craig

A service station cafe has been judged to have the best coffee in town - outbrewing specialist coffee chains.

Wild Bean Cafe, located in BP outlets, ranked highest overall for satisfaction and was deemed best tasting coffee in the latest Canstar Blue Customer satisfaction survey. It rated higher than coffee chains including Starbucks, the Coffee Club and Muffin Break.

However, the Herald on Sunday asked the country's top barista, Hanna Teramoto from Espresso Workshop, to try five of the coffees, and her opinion was something else again.

Canstar Blue asked 1427 people to rate 10 coffee shop chains on a range of categories including menu options, taste of coffee, service and value for money.

Wild Bean drew five out of five stars in seven of the eight categories.

"We all tend to remember road trips fondly but not so much stopping at some service stations along the way for food," said Wild Bean's national food service manager Scot Graham.

"Those days are well and truly gone, we have revolutionised our industry, so much so that we are now outperforming the established coffee chains."

The Herald on Sunday bought long blacks from five cafes in the survey and had Teramoto, the 2014 New Zealand Barista Championship winner, do a blind test.

"You know when you're making concrete? It smells like that," she said of Starbucks' offering. "It tastes like burned tyre," was her verdict on the Coffee Club brew.

She said Wild Bean was "drinkable" and better than Coffee Club, but still only gave it two and a half stars out of five.

Teramoto enjoyed Muffin Break's coffee the most, awarding four stars, followed by Mojo Coffee, Wild Bean and Coffee Club, with Starbucks receiving a miserly one star.

Starbucks general manager of operations Jamie McKaughan said Teramoto was entitled to her opinion but the company was confident customers were happy.

The Coffee Club said it was disappointed Teramoto didn't enjoy her long black.

"It certainly isn't consistent with the type of feedback we normally get from our customers.

"We can only assume that either it simply wasn't to Hanna's individual taste, or that there was a problem with our processes or the coffee machine at that particular store."

Mojo Coffee head of operations Massimo Capellino said the stores were not a franchise chain and each outlet is tailored for its clientele. "More than 90 per cent of our sales are milk-base coffees and served standard as doubles to break through New Zealand's incredibly sweet milk. Higher acidic coffees are definitely enjoyed by coffee professionals like Hanna and ourselves as black coffees, but still not perceived as a balance beverages for a greater audience."

Muffin Break general manager Garry Croft said the company is proud to serve quality coffee. "We are thrilled that this blind test by New Zealand's top barista has judged Muffin Break coffee as being best in the market," he said.

Wild Bean declined to comment about Teramoto's findings, saying the test wasn't done under a quality controlled environment.

- Herald on Sunday

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