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Coffee Talk – meet Sam, the Kiwi behind Zurich’s Cafe New Zealand

Cafe New Zealand opened its doors in Zurich in April 2015 unofficially, in June officially. So it’s almost time for their first anniversary.. In this short period the cafe has catapulted itself to the forefront of the Zurich coffee scene, currently on trip advisor only second to the Swiss institution Confiserie Sprungli for Best Zurich Coffee & Tea. It’s barely comparable to Sprungli, possibly offering a slightly more interesting, or at least different, people watching spot in the middle of Zurich’s hip Kreis 4.  The Langstrasse based coffee shop has not only built up a reputation by boosting the popularity of flat whites, dirty cappuccinos and double shots in Zurich, but also with great hospitality welcoming all guests who walk in, which certainly isn’t the most famous Swiss trait. This friendly welcome is thanks to Kiwi owner/barista Sam, who was traveling through Europe and lucky for Zurich coffee lovers decided to make Zurich his new home.

In between dishing up pies, creating one of his famous pieces of art, also known as the dirty cappuccino, and further developing his Cafe New Zealand brand, Sam found some time for some coffee talk and answer a few questions I threw at him. Thanks for that Sam and raising the bar when it comes to coffee in Zurich!

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How did the idea of Cafe New Zealand come about? What’s the story behind the name?

The idea of cafe New Zealand started when I couldn’t find a proper pie or flat white in Zurich. So I came up with a simple concept for the cafe, we create a relaxed atmosphere to enjoy New Zealand style coffee and pies. The location, Backpacker Langstars, on Langstrasse is the perfect location for Cafe New Zealand. Cafe New Zealand is often humming with travellers from all corners of the globe, mixing in with Zurich locals. We like to have fun, and we keep the atmosphere informal.

How did your coffee career begin?

I have many years experience making coffee. When I was 15 I walked into a cafe, and asked for a weekend job as a barista. The cafe was really nice, located in an old restored barn on the beach. A year later I won my first barista award. Ive had an interesting life, with many different jobs, adventures and passions. Coffee is just one of my passions.

What style of coffee do you serve at Cafe New Zealand?

Cafe New Zealand has its own style of coffee. We create coffee to be enjoyed. Our cappuccino is a fun, sexy coffee. We call it the Dirty Cappuccino, served dirty with heaps of foam and finished with chocolate. Often the chocolate foam is slowly overflowing. Our flat white is considered by Kiwis as a proper Flat White experience, with its unique extraction and thickened milk it has super smooth texture and mouth feel. We always have 2 different espresso styles to try.

What kind of coffee beans do you usually have and from which roaster/s? Which espresso machine?

I have 2 grinders so there is always the choice from 2 different beans. At the moment I’m using a single origin from my local roaster Black and Blaze. Its a beautiful honey processed arabica bean from El Salvador. My second grinder has a medium roast blend called Supreme. Similar to one I was using in New Zealand. Claude the master roaster at Black and blaze uses a mix of science and passion in his roasting.
The coffee machine is a La Marzocco, and in my opinion it’s the best there is. Very reliable and powerful, not to mention beautiful. I was lucky to get looked after by the guys from Kialoa the Swiss La Marzocco dealers.

How does it feel to have your own coffee shop and what do you like most about your job?

It’s my dream to have my own cafe and I love it. It’s not really work when you get to have so much fun. I meet people from all over the world. I have submerged myself in a new culture. I love Zurich. It’s a beautiful city with so much to offer. In the winter I can go snowboarding, in the summer I can go hiking in the alps, swimming in the lake or jump off a bridge into the river. There are parks around the city to grill. People are very friendly and welcoming to me.

What are the most popular coffee drinks at your coffee shop and what’s your favourite?

The most popular is the Flat White. It’s a coffee that was discovered in New Zealand (or Australia) and is now becoming popular in Europe.
My favourite is our Dirty Cappuccino.
I’m always tasting our espresso, the double ristretto with a stain of milk is my favourite.
Our large Americano is perfect for a hangover cure, served on 300ml of hot water.

Do you have any exciting plans for the future?

I’m a dreamer, I have soo many plans, soon I plan to air freight some fresh roasted beans from a top roaster in New Zealand. For a month you will be able to visit Cafe New Zealand on Langstrasse and order a Flat White, made by a Kiwi, in the New Zealand style with fresh beans roasted in New Zealand!

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