Grungy-in-a-good-way Memphis Belle spills from her op-shopped interior onto the wedge where Dixon Street meets Courtenay Place with a collection of garage-sale loungers and coffee tables that make the streetscape a coffee-and-cigarettes hang for an assorted crew of customers on the border of hip Te Aro and downtown Wellington.
The walls inside are hung with thrift-store art and ironic reproductions in salvaged frames, the furniture comes from the back of your grandmother’s Lower Hutt garage, and the ceiling is scrawled with customers’ chalked graffiti.
A team of laid-back young specialty coffee punks presides, brewing coffee from a big blackboard coffee menu of espresso and non-pressure options with beans from Flight Coffee. V60 or Swiss gold are the filter choices; a V60 of Flight’s Nicaragua Loma Fria comes with a “Here you go, sir. Blackcurrant and fig.” It’s served in a repurposed glass jug with a Picardie-style short black glass for sipping. The colour is a soft chestnut, the flavours of sticky dried fruit and berries – we’ll pay blackcurrant and fig – and the mouthfeel is smooth and easy.
Hot day? Check out the summer brown – a Memphis Belle invention: a double espresso shot topped up with cold milk, “’cos we don’t have a fridge for cold brew”. It’s a lukewarm coffee hit, a little bit like a flat white gone cold, but with the flavour better integrated and the coffee brighter and fresher. We won’t hold our breath for this one to catch one…
But Memphis Belle has an extremely fine and funky soundtrack – is this Wellington’s best music-coffee combination – and on Thursdays students get two coffees for the price of one.
Where 38 Dixon Street, Te Aro, Wellington
When Mon–Fri 7.30am–5pm, Sat–Sun 8.30am–5pm