Queenstown's Cafe Culture

Cafe Culture in Queenstown and Arrowtown

Queenstown and Arrowtown thrive on great café’s and a competitive coffee culture.  Unlike our Italian friends, where a single shot espresso is about all you can order, can cost as little as $1.20NZD, take 30 seconds to make and one sip to consume, coffee drinking for us is a much longer drawn out social event intertwined with great food, exceptional locations and enviably extensive coffee menus.

In fact, without really claiming the title of being the ‘best’ coffee culture, we are without a doubt passionate about our café experience.

So when you visit Queenstown or Arrowtown, here is a guide on how its done locally!

SB Cafes Chop Shop


Think starbucks and then go bigger!  Ordering an espresso or a cappuccino really is a thing of the past.  Menus now cover a variety of international bean choices and roasting options, milk types (fat or skinny), and milk alternatives like soya, hazelnut, almond, coconut, rice or even goats milk.  Almost every allergy is covered and alternatives offered.  Add interesting flavours such as caramel or vanilla; be organic, be traditional, or be spicy.   We have café’s that support local producers, fair trade producers and traditional rich Latin and Italian producers. 

Go caffeine free; try chicory or chai.  And to finish?  Nude or normal?  Hold the cinnamon or go heavy with the chocolate?  One sneaky chocolate covered coffee bean or two jaffa’s? White sugar, brown sugar, sugar free sweeteners?  And lets not forget the frothy artwork on the top!  Silverfern?  Love hearts? Initials?  Each barista and each café have their own signature café art styles.  Take away or drink there?

Yes we most certainly make it complicated!  And while we love and embrace this huge variety of coffee choices, there are two obvious downsides; time and cost. Me personally, I think I’m a simple coffee drinker – single shot decaf skinny latte - nude.  Not high maintenance at all!  Realistically it's not an unusual request.  I mean, I could have asked for almond milk with cinnamon too!  And that means time and time means cost.  So our tradeoff for coffee variety and complexity is time and money.  If you want a single shot espresso to accompany that order of a single shot decaf skinny nude latte, then be prepared to wait 15 to 20 minutes and be prepared to pay $6.50 to $8.00NZD!  Outrageously expensive, I know!

SB Cafes Vudu

So, if you are ordering in, then coffee is drunk seated at a table.  Again unlike our european counterparts who order, drink and dash while standing at bar tables, we tend to sit and consume our precious coffee while discussing the latest work project or catching up with friends, checking our emails (facebook or insta) or cutting a deal.   

SB Cafes SilverFern

Cafe Food 

This brings us to the next point.  Café food.  It’s a fierce competition out there, and the winners are us as consumers.  I have travelled far and wide around the globe for more than 40 years and hand on heart, I can tell you that our café’s in Queenstown offer some of the best most creative dishes you will ever get the pleasure of sampling.  We seem to be defined by our organic and local produce with health and heart at the core of our offerings.  Be it a sweet tooth or a health kick, Queenstown's cafes are a step above any I have encountered around the world.

So coffee and food.  Where to go.  The list below are personal favourites which combine the best coffee, the best service, the best food and the best locations.  Price I’ve excluded for now – when you need your fix, well cost really doesn’t come into it!  There are so many more, but start here on your next trip to Queenstown

Bespoke Kitchen – Raw, Vegan, GF food heaven

9 Isle Street | Central Queenstown

Vudu Cafe & Larder – Sister to Bespoke Kitchen

16 Rees Street – Queenstown Central

Yonder – bring a book and stay a while

14 Church Street | Central Queenstown

Odelay – Fun Food at great prices

5 Hawthorne Drive, Unit 10 The landing Remarkables Park | Frankton

Chop Shop Food Merchants – best brunch in Arrowtown

44 Buckingham Street | Arrowtown

Joes Garage – Great hangover food!

Searle Lane, Queenstown Central

Frank's Eatery – New and creative menu.

Shop 6, Ramada Hotel, 24 Hawthorne Dr, Frankton

The Boatshed Café – Location Location location!

847 Frankton Rd, Frankton