A cafe in Palmerston North has found a creative way to serve its coffee in Level 3, using free time in lockdown to devise an ingenious method of getting customers their caffeine fix.
Cyclista Espresso Bar serves its coffees using a toy train, shuttling beverages from the barista to the customer using a short track.
Owner Steve Stannard told the Herald he was loco-motivated to find a solution to the problem of contactless delivery during the long lockdown period.
"Level 4 lockdown like everyone else I was doing some tidying up around the house, found the old train set sitting on top of the cupboard and at the same time we were wondering how we were going to do contactless delivery so I thought 'I'll give that a go'."
"So the old train set got pulled out after 30 years, my wife fashioned a carriage, I had to fix it up a bit and away we went," he said.
Stannard said that customers had been delighted by the innovation and bringing some extra cheer had been a big part of the idea.
"The best thing about it is when you deliver a coffee by train everyone's got a smile on their face and that's what it's about really," he said.
Stannard posted a clip of the train to Facebook, labelling it the "Covid Express" and the clip quickly picked up steam, amassing thousands of views.
Stannard said the enforced trading halt of level four had been tough but was happy to get back into business and said they were trading at around 50 per cent of where they had been because they were solely an espresso bar.
Trainspotters and coffee fans can get down the cafe from 7.30am to 3pm on George St in Palmerston North.
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They're not the only cafe to use a bit of Kiwi ingenuity to get back to business, with Green Bay cafe Zoom Espresso using a more manual method to go contactless.
In a Facebook post, the business showed off its contactless service system, which involves a long wooden plank with a tray attached to it.
One customer shared a tweet of the contraption in action, as the employee pushes the coffee.
"Love the Kiwi ingenuity!!," Stephanie Whyte wrote in a post.
The post has been praised by others, with many locals saying they will pay the cafe a visit.
Other cafe owners the Herald spoke to said that business had been going well as they started up again in level 3.
Chelsea Morrison, operations manager at Atomic Coffee Roasters in Kingsland, said the staff were "a little nervous" about how things would roll out, given the "uncharted territory" of creating a new efficient workflow, maintaining distance and safety for staff and customers, using pre-order apps for the first time and "the simple unknown of just how many people would show up".
Within the first 15 minutes of "going live", they had 40 orders and by midday had sold 255 coffees.
Morrison says it's been a "pretty lighthearted" vibe at the cafe and that the customers, mainly local regulars, seemed "just glad to be able to have their favourite brew served by their favourite baristas. Everyone seems happy to have an excuse to talk to more people, even from a distance."
Around the corner at Crave cafe in Morningside, staff saw queues of up to 20 people this morning waiting to get their hands on a coffee and the cafe's coveted cheese scones.
General manager Nigel Cottle told the Herald "it's been awesome".
"We've had all sorts of people in. Parents with prams. People on their way to work. There's been a real sense of anticipation."