Remember when a flat white cost less than $4?
In Moerewa, in the Far North, it still does.
At Hati's Cafe you can still get a good-sized, barista-made coffee for $3.80.
Is that the cheapest coffee in Northland?
And it's not just the price that's unusual at Hati's, it's also the way your caffeine fix is served with a large slice of aroha and family history.
Owner Joanne Scott (nee Hati) comes from a family of seven sisters and one brother, but when their brother died in a motorcycle crash the family name was in danger of disappearing — so she called the business Hati's Cafe to keep the name alive.
"Hati" also stands for "Hati and Tipene Inspired Sisters", Tipene being their mother's surname.
Scott didn't have much money for decor so her sisters and mother pitched in, painting and reupholstering furniture and decorating the walls.
The back wall is the canvas for a family tree and every table displays a story from family or local history. There's the story behind the family home, the tale of how the oldest uncle shamed his brothers by winning a family running race, the stories behind local landmarks, and so on.
It's hardly surprising that the staff are family too.
''Family is our biggest focus. Families are what we get here, they obviously feel comfortable.''
Scott said she deliberately kept prices low to make the cafe accessible for locals.
She also figured it was better for her business to ''sell more for less''.
Customers surprised by the price of a regular coffee often ordered a large cup for $4.50, because they were used to paying that elsewhere for a small coffee.
A cafe has occupied the main-street building since about the year 2000 when Tuna Cafe first opened its doors. (The tuna, or eel, is the unofficial symbol of Moerewa.)
It went through a few different names and owners before Scott, who previously ran the Bay of Islands College canteen, bought the business.
She opened on March 16 — the 20th anniversary of her father's death — and just over a week later the Covid pandemic forced the cafe to close. The business survived thanks to the Government's wage subsidies.
The community response had been ''awesome'', Scott said.
''I think it's because we were brought up here, we're part of the community. I want people to feel like I do, proud of this place — and I think they do.''
When the Advocate visited a couple of regulars, Ned Peita and Pamela-Anne Simon, were just stopping by.
''You can't beat the food here,'' Peita said.
''The prices are very good too. It competes well with service station prices but at Hati's the service and care you get makes the difference.''
Simon said Hati's was ''the hub of Moerewa'', an ideal place to hold meetings and catch up with people.
''It has a warm, welcoming vibe, and you know love's been put into the food. And where else can you get a $3.80 coffee these days?''
While that's about as cheap as you can get in Northland for a proper coffee — not counting the odd fast-food restaurant or service station — it's not the cheapest in Aotearoa.
An Auckland-based chain of coffee kiosks called Coffix, for example, offers $3 regular coffees at 16 outlets around the North Island, though none is further north than Takapuna.
■ Email us at email@example.com if you know of a cheaper coffee in Northland.