A Guide to Hamilton’s Best Coffee Spots

These caffeine-fueled pitstops are putting this scenic New Zealand city on the map.

Hamilton, the fourth most populous metropolis in New Zealand, is not particularly known as a major tourist destination. The city is home to a couple of main attractions, including the celebrated Hamilton Gardens, the modest yet modern Waikato Museum, and the annual Balloons Over Waikato hot air balloon festival held every late summer. But that’s about it, really.

Though, being less than two hours’ drive away from Auckland, Hobbiton, and the Waitomo glowworm caves, Hamilton’s strategic central location in the Waikato region makes it the perfect base to explore New Zealand’s North Island.

Being in such close proximity to Auckland has also increased the number of working-class citizens living in Hamilton over the years. And where there’s a boom in the workforce, there’s bound to be a boom in coffee consumption. The number of cafes strewn across Hamilton today is copious. Here’s a look at some spots that are worth making a detour for a much-needed caffeine fix during your next road-trip across New Zealand.

Photo: Grey Street Kitchen

1. Grey Street Kitchen

Helmed by Dove Chen, winner of the NZ Barista Championship 2019, Grey Street Kitchen is one of New Zealand’s most well-loved coffeehouses. The simply furnished and cozy venue of white walls and wooden furniture is the perfect pitstop for robust lattes and flat whites, frothy art in tow. Pair your favorite cup of joe with scones, cakes or a selection of brunch staples, including buttermilk fried chicken waffles, as well as bread and butter pudding French toast.

More information here.

Photo: Callum Brae

2. Callum Brae

Here, diners can swing a golf club before taking a swig of coffee. This quaint space not only offers 36-hole mini golf and 18-hole pitch and putt, but also great lattes from owner John Sung. Sip on smooth free pours that use beans from local roasters, including the Laroma Coffee Company. Sung’s talent is, of course, creating softly textured milk—the prime canvas for his flawlessly shaped rosetta.

More information here.

Photo: Agora Café

3. Agora Café

Agora, which means marketplace in Greek, is a café that values the community. Located in the heart of Frankton, one of Hamilton’s industrial centers, it supports organizations that are helping the poor and exploited in Thailand. As such, its coffees are made with a delicious blend originating from the Thai Hill Tribes called La Mai beans, which pair wonderfully with flavorful snacks like the Szechuan spiced calamari. Even the walls of the café reflect its charitable journey, marked by NZ-based aerosol artist Cracked Ink’s characters and monochrome motifs.

More information here.

Photo: SL28

4. SL28

Started by and recently sold-off by the people behind Rocket Coffee Roasters, an industry pioneer who’s been around since 1995, SL28’s elegant espresso bar continues to serve fine cups of Rocket Coffee and a selection of no-frills eats, from toasties to muesli. Tucked inside The Riverbank Lane, a multi-purpose building next to Waikato River, the café has floor-to-high-ceiling windows with plenty of daylight spilling into the lofty, industrial-looking interiors of wood and steel. Best of all? There’s plenty of hideaway corners to work or people-watch.

More information here.

Photo: Camarosa

5. Camarosa

Established last year, Camarosa is among the newest coffee houses in New Zealand, with delicious vegetarian and gluten-free food to boot. The menu is formulated by award-winning chef Andrew Clarke, while some of the best baristas in town, including Jassher Clayton from Grey Street Kitchen, front the coffee-making process. Try the single origin batch brew while taking in the strawberry field in front of the café, or relax indoors amid textured walls and Scandinavian furniture.

More information here.


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