Ah coffee. Where would we be without you? Reporter Jenny Ling looks at what is behind Northlanders' love of our favourite morning brew.
It's always coffee time.
Life happens, coffee helps.
All you need is love and more coffee.
I start working when my coffee does.
These are just a handful of humorous - and accurate - phrases about the brown liquid gold which connoisseurs from all corners of the globe can relate to.
Drinking coffee has become a big part of our social fabric too; it's second nature to meet for a cup of our favourite daily grind with friends, family and work colleagues.
Per capita, New Zealand coffee consumption rates are in the top 20 in the world, just ahead of the USA.
Northland's newly crowned top barista Tom Richardson said coffee is a "social drug in the nicest possible way".
"It's a great thing to have a chat over.
"Coffee generates good chat, and if you couple that with a nice atmosphere, it becomes a focal point for meeting someone.
"It's just a really good thing to bring people together."
Richardson - who owns Third Wheel Coffee Co in Paihia with his wife Emma and sister Genevieve – won the title of outstanding barista at this year's Northland Hospitality Awards.
It takes skill and technique to be a good barista, he said, but it's also about taking sufficient care.
"It's an art but we also take a systematic approach to coffee, we weigh and time all our extractions which takes longer but ensures quality and consistency in the cup every time.
"It's really about taking care. Even when we have a big queue I try and emphasise that there's no point in rushing it. You have to take it cup by cup.
"People are spending $5 on a coffee and there's nothing worse than getting a bad cup of coffee – it can ruin your day."
Whether it's a latte, flat white, mochaccino, espresso, long black, americano, vienna, cappuccino or macchiato, it's clear – Kiwis are a nation of coffee lovers.
New Zealand even has its own coffee festival, complete with seminars and masterclasses, held in Auckland during March each year.
A 2019 survey looking at the coffee-drinking habits of New Zealanders, revealed just how much Kiwis crave their coffee.
The Wild Bean Cafe Kiwi Coffee Consensus, commissioned by Wild Bean Cafe, found more than 70 per cent of us are drinking at least one coffee a day with 24 per cent consuming three or more cups daily.
The majority of those surveyed ordered a flat white, and the second most popular coffee ordered was a mocha.
Max Coffee managing director Aaron Bingham said Kiwis have high expectations when it comes to coffee these days.
"It's a food science now.
"It wasn't that long ago people would say you throw beans in a grinder and it's 60ml for a double shot.
"Those days are over. The expectation of coffee now is huge and you have to have a different level of training.
"Now you're talking brew ratios and extraction rates. People go to university to study this stuff now."
Max Coffee was established in 1999 in Kerikeri and is now one of the region's premium coffee roasters having won a slew of awards.
Bingham took over the boutique company in 2011 after going out to buy a rental investment property and coming back with a coffee business.
It's a move which Bingham, an engineer by trade, has no regrets over.
"It's a nice product to be involved in," he said.
"Everyone is always excited to talk about coffee. It's a social drink, it's non-alcoholic and it's quite a personal drink."
A good cup of coffee comes down to three things, Bingham reckons: roasting, machinery and the barista.
"If you miss out any one of these three things it's a bad cup."
And though the first two factors are important, it's at the barista end where things can go terribly wrong.
Burnt coffee beans, too much milk or - horror of horrors – weak coffee with no crema - getting a bad cup of coffee from a cafe is a big let-down.
It's so important that Max Coffee has undertaken a big drive over the last year to ensure baristas using their product know how to make it properly.
Bingham now travels around the North Island providing on-site training to 22 cafes as part of the company's supply contract.
"A lot of problems are more to do with the making than the roasting," he said.
"We've done a huge drive to make sure people produce it right at the other end.
"To have Max coffee in your café now you have to have been trained by someone at Max."
Bean there, done that
Though no one knows exactly where coffee originated in Africa, many believe it was Ethiopia.
According to legend, a goat herder discovered it back in the 9th century after he noticed that, after eating the berries from a coffee shrub, his goats became really energetic.
Over the years, coffee beans migrated to South East Asia, Central, and South America.
Today, Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia, and Ethiopia are still the world's top five leaders when it comes to growing and producing coffee.
The good news is, drinking coffee has many health benefits.
It can increase your metabolic rate, helping to burn fat, and contains a number of essential nutrients, including niacin, magnesium, potassium, manganese, pantothenic acid and riboflavin.
Studies have shown coffee may help guard against conditions like Alzheimer's and heart disease.
Clinical dietitian Prem Nand, from Maximised Nutrition in Whangārei, said there is also research showing coffee may protect against Parkinson's disease.
But you can have too much of a good thing, Nand warns.
It all comes down to moderation.
"In this culture, coffee drinking is part of our socialisation," she said.
"There is a place for caffeine in our diet.
"We do need a bit of caffeine for our metabolism and coffee is good for improving mental alertness, and it can be a good antioxidant - but I would prefer people drink a fruit smoothie."
Nand had just returned from a café business meeting, where she ordered a chai latte, when she spoke to the Northern Advocate.
She doesn't drink too much coffee herself as it causes irritation, she said.
Too much caffeine also causes the kidneys to excrete more calcium, and having low calcium levels, particularly for women, is a leading cause of osteoporosis.
Another adverse effect is that it can hamper the absorption of zinc, Nand said.
People should also put a time limit on their last cup – for example, not having coffee after 2pm – to give the body time to wind down before bed.
"It's not a bad drink, but like any substance, people can get addicted," Nand said.
"Two to three cups is ok. If it becomes more than that then you have to be aware of the addictive nature of caffeine."
Northland's seed to cup coffee project
The owners of New Zealand's first commercial coffee farm know only too well how much work goes into producing a good cup of coffee.
Rob and Carol Schluter from Ikarus Coffee have a 4ha farm in Pekerau Hills in the Far North.
The couple's business consists mainly of roasting beans imported from various countries which they sell to Far North cafes and at their mobile coffee outlet at local farmer's markets.
But eight years ago, they also kicked off New Zealand's only coffee growing project, picking and processing the berries from their crop of coffee shrubs to see what would come out of it.
They ended up with about 3kg of roasted coffee and, buoyed by positive feedback, got serious about establishing a viable coffee farm.
Since then they've planted 700 Coffea arabica trees with their first proper harvest in 2017/2018 producing 55kg of roasted product.
Though affected by last summer's drought, this increased to about 80kg of roasted product last season.
"It's grown a bit, but it's only a drop in the ocean as far as coffee is concerned with global production being millions of bags," Rob said.
"It's more of an experimental project ... it's like a hobby that has expanded into its own momentum."
Rob said the labour-intensive nature of producing coffee "certainly expands our sense of appreciation of what goes into it".
Coffee cherries are picked, pulped, fermented and hulled before being roasted.
Rob reckons about 120 beans goes into making one cup, and a 250g coffee packet takes half a day to pick.
"Coffee is a special thing, there's a lot that goes into a cup of coffee," he said.
"It's the smell, it's the taste, it's something to look forward to in the morning."
How to make a cracking café coffee at home
Get a good grinder: Having freshly ground coffee will ensure quality crema, that flavourful, aromatic, caramel coloured froth that rests on top of a shot of espresso.
Get the grind right: Not too course, not too fine.
Tamp: Must be firm but not too firm to ensure the right consistency.
Heat the milk: Hold the steam wand at the top of the milk jug for a couple of seconds to introduce air then move to the bottom on a slight angle. This will turn the air into microbubbles.
Milk temperature: You want to get to around 60-65 degrees – any hotter and you'll risk burning the milk.