Customs opened in 2009 with a beautiful timber-lined fit-out that was designed to evoke a 1950s kitchen-living-area type of space; lots of the timber was recycled from a farmhouse on land owned by Coffee Supreme founders Chris Dillon and Maggie Wells.
The aim at Customs Brew Bar was to reintroduce soft brew methods to espresso-centric Wellingtonians, highlighting lighter roasts than New Zealanders were used to, and there’s a collection of soft-brew gadgets – siphons pots, percolators, Moccamasters – displayed on shelves around the cafe.
There’s a smart La Marzocco on the counter for those flat whites, but Customs also offers Fetco batch brews, V60 pourovers, Chemex and cold brew: it’s THE best spot to sample the range of Coffee Supreme’s coffee.A batch brew of a Costa Rica La Cruz is very clean and juicy, with hints of chocolate and mandarin sweetness, and a well-structured acidity that lifts it nicely.
We’d sampled Supreme’s Honduras Yire at The Abbotsford Club in Melbourne a couple of days previously: the Wellington roast made a savoury, complex and rich cup through a V60.
Espresso blends at Customs Brew Bar come from Coffee Supreme’s Ratio series: the 7:3 blend is a mix of Brazil Nova Canna natural and Nicaragua Las Cumbres red bourbon. In a flat white it has bitter chocolate flavours and a bit of pulpy natural fruit as it cools down.
The focus at Customs is on coffee, with nine single origins on the menu for drinking in or taking home. Pricing is per 100 grams, and the menu lists roast dates.
A brief food menu features toast with classic toppings – maybe a couple of slices of cinnamon and sugar-dusted sourdough to keep the spotlight on the coffee.
Where 39 Ghuznee Street, Te Aro, Wellington
When Mon–Fri 7.30am–4pm, Sat & Sun 8.30am–4pm