In the second of our series on Auckland's farmers' markets, Hayley McLarin wakes up and smells the coffee at Oratia.
Without interrupting her passionate explanation of the origins of her free-trade coffee, Petroesjka Grundemann hands over parcels before customers even have to ask.
Bethells Beanz has been making coffee only since 2016 and initially Petroesjka and her family made the trek from the wild west coast to sell at the Oratia farmers' market on alternate weekends. But demand is such that every Saturday she is at the market nestled within the urban fringe at the foothills of the Waitākere Ranges.
They roast two to three days a week and the range includes Suzy - a blend recreated to honour another passionate Dutch coffee aficionado who pioneered coffee lounges in Wellington in the 1960s.
But for me, Petroesjka recommends Pāteke, a single-origin bean from Papua New Guinea with smooth intensity, and chocolate and nutty notes.
Ironically, you cannot buy a cup of coffee from Petroesjka, but you can get a Millers as you enter this boutique market, with a range of milks for a range of tastes.
You wouldn't pick that the pretty arch of permanent stalls was actually on a farm. Yes there's a quad bike and trailer parked front and centre, but that is more a prop for the kids as mums and dads amble past the small clutch of stalls.
When I visited, the organisers were in the process of sourcing a new local butcher, so my protein sources were limited, but the result was amazing - a beautiful piece of freshly-smoked salmon with gremolata, from salmonman.
Mary has been visiting relatives in Australia, so her home-made jams and preserves are running a little low. But I did manage to nab a jar of plum jam with just the right piquancy - and it has made me want to try the marmalade next time. If you're into bottling yourself, there were buckets of feijoas.
Added to my growing collection were Anni's free-range eggs, Mr Cheeseman's divine brie and a blue, along with Zeki's Turkish borek - filo pastry with spinach, feta and onion.
BAG A BARGAIN: George's Garden was plentiful - beautiful, fresh fruit and veges that cost less than $20 and lasted more than a week. Bags of beans for $3, cherry tomatoes for $3.50, capsicums for $2.
SWEET OR SAVOURY: I bypassed the laden Loaf stall - telling myself I can get their wares in the nicer food stores in the city. Instead I went for Zeki's intensely sweet and sticky baklava. Let's not think about how much honey went into my $2 square of deliciousness.
BEST HANGOVER CURE:
Usually you would seek out a big breakfast, so I did just that - in the form of a Jam Pak'd Big Breakfast Pie - bacon, sausage, free-range egg, tomato and mini hash browns pak'd into a rich non-greasy pastry, that I devoured leaning against an old wine barrel while listening to the live music.
You could have had "Just Steak", "Just Mince" or ventured into lamb's fry and bacon or beef stroganoff. All pies are $5, served exactly the right temperature to have right there and then.
SURPRISE FACTOR: Sunde Brothers' chilli stall - picked literally metres away. It wasn't what I expected to be harvested in West Auckland but the helpful guys gave me a few mild wee chillis to try when buying sweet red peppers for my roast vege salad.
MAKE A DAY OF IT: Just across the road is Just Plane Interesting. A bit like Junk & Disorderly before it became famous, this shop is filled with the weird, wacky and wonderful. It is definitely worth a mooch.
If you're looking for somewhere for lunch, less than 5km away in Henderson is Ben Bayley's beautiful The Grounds, within any young child's idea of heaven - Whoa! Studios. This is wine country, so there are also vineyards in the area to explore. And you're 30 minutes from Te Henga - Bethells Beach if you want to see where the coffee gets its name.
This is a small market of about 25 stalls and there's a sense it is a shopping destination, not a dining one. You can grab things to eat while listening to the live music. It's intimate, and worth taking the time to chat to the producers. You don't get that at Countdown.
PARKING: Free and plenty in the field along the drive.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Trains run from Britomart to Swanson Station, then it is a 15-minute bus ride and a 1.5km walk. But as above, there's ample parking and plenty to see and do in the area, so best to drive.
CHILD-FRIENDLY: Absolutely, and it is well off the road so very safe. But you may need to bring something to keep them entertained as there's no play area.
EFT-POS: Available for a small charge. This is a plastic-bag free zone, so maybe grab a reusable shopping bag if you haven't brought one, as it's not easy juggling lots of paper bags.
DOGS: Can be tethered at the entrance, but they aren't permitted inside the arbour. Even the dog treats stall is outside the market itself, almost pining to be part of the party.
WET WEATHER OPTIONS: The stalls are permanent, and you can easily hunker in, while shopping. It's not too cloistered, and definitely enough room to swing your umbrella.
Oratia farmers' market
Parrs Cross Rd
When: Every Saturday, 9am-noon