Palmerston North: NZ's Underrated Coffee Capital

A man holding a red cup of coffee outside a coffee cart.

Move over, Wellington - Palmerston North is quietly but confidently building its case as an alternative coffee capital.

Words by: John Son 

Photos by: Anna Briggs

The heart of the Manawatū and home to one of the country’s most attractive parks, Palmerston North has nonetheless kept a fairly low profile as a food and beverage destination. That perception might slowly but surely be changing, though - with a growing collection of superb cafes and coffee spots, Palmy’s reputation among coffee aficionados is only growing stronger by the day. From quirky-themed cafes and charismatic bohemian spots to convenient coffee carts, here’s where to stop for your coffee fix in Palmerston North.

Mouthwater Coffee Company

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Various locations

Wander around the city centre, and you’re bound to stumble across one of the three Mouthwater coffee carts. The unmissable red carts are the brainchild of Andrew Feldon, a coffee hero who has turned his passion and know-how of all things coffee into a beloved local brand. What the carts lack in size, they more than makeup for with fantastic coffee, delicious snacks to go and quality conversation (and dad jokes).

Cyclista Espresso Bar and Roastery

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54 George Street, Palmerston North Central

Cyclista is a real gem of the trendy George Street, delivering bucketloads of character and top-notch coffee. Owners Steve and Katherine have fused their dual passions of cycling and coffee into a truly unique themed cafe, with the walls laden with cycling posters, memorabilia and merch - and actual bikes, of course. Pair your coffee with a sweet or savoury bagel as you admire the effort that’s gone into carving out this delightful little niche.

Ebony Coffee Roasters

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208 Featherston Street, Palmerston North Central

Part cafe, part specialty retail store, Ebony is a one-stop shop for any and every coffee need. As you wait for your coffee you can peruse the shelves of drip kettles, Chemexes, cold brew setups, and other brewing equipment, as well as watch the in-house roastery hard at work. Want to get even closer to the action? Sign up for a class at Ebony’s barista training school, which is held just down the road.

Arrosta Coffee Roasting Co.

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42 Victoria Avenue, Palmerston North Central

Smack-bang in the heart of the city centre lies the flagship cafe of Arrosta, a revered local name that supplies beans to scores of cafes and other outlets around Palmerston North. In addition to your favourite coffees, you’ll find a fantastic selection of slices and other treats to tuck into. There’s even a functional roastery on-site, as well as a range of wholesale beans and brewing gear and accessories available to buy.

Sublime Coffee Roasters

203 Cuba Street, Palmerston North Central

Originally hailing from Nelson, Sublime Coffee Roasters has carved out a little slice of the North Island to call home – and Palmerston North locals couldn’t be more grateful. A small, lean operation based out of a fresh and funky building on Cuba Street, Sublime keeps its core offerings tight and focused: fantastic coffee, a handful of slices and small bites, plus outstanding customer service to top it all off.

Joseph Street Kitchen

55A Joseph Street, West End

On this quiet residential street lies a building swathed in vines, sticking out like a sore thumb and indicating the left-field vibes within. A stone’s throw from the city centre, Joseph Street Kitchen is a rustic, bohemian cafe that feels like a real hidden oasis. Great coffee is matched with an extensive food menu, making it a versatile spot for a quick meal on the go or a long lunch. Dogs are welcome, too, with plenty of outside seating to catch the sun.

Coffee on Ascot

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35 Ascot Street, Hokowhitu

Coffee on Ascot is a light, bright, and airy neighbourhood cafe that’s a perfect place to drop by for a quality coffee away from the crowds. Try the famous superfood lattes (think velvet and mushroom lattes), as well as the allergy-friendly raw slices and home-baked snacks. With a selection of large communal tables and outdoor seating, it’s one of the most warm and welcoming cafes in town.

Cafe Cuba

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236 Cuba Street, Palmerston North Central

A homely yet spacious eatery, Cafe Cuba is a local institution that has something for everyone. While a cafe by nature, the food here does a stellar job of pulling in the crowds, thanks in no small part to the substantial cabinet filled with slices and cakes. Choose from peppermint, custard, fudge, or a whole swathe of other slices, or the renowned chocolate mud or carrot cake. There are plenty of savoury options too, for those looking for a hearty brunch.

Neat Palmerston North Places

LOCAL Café and Eatery

An image of the front counter with two different blue tiles and a wooden bench.
Place Palmerston North
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LOCAL Café and Eatery truly lives up to its name. After several years of successful trading, the spot has earned a solid regular following who love the café’s colourful plates, locally sourced ingredients, homemade baked goods, coffees and tipples.

Zimmerman Art Gallery

Colourful art on the walls at Zimmerman Art Gallery.
Place Palmerston North
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When Bronwyn Zimmerman opened Zimmerman Art Gallery in 2010 her goal was to create greater public access to art in the Manawatū. “Art shouldn’t be hidden away or be behind some foreboding wall” she said. As a result this gallery is approachable, open, free and downright fun to visit.

Ginger Bird

Close up of a waitress holding a pie.
Place Palmerston North
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Ginger Bird is a countryside café with a big heart, excellent service, homemade treats and barista coffee. The café is housed within two shipping containers, but you’d never guess once inside as the wide windows, light timber and warm lighting give the space a cosy, homey feel.

Little Savanna

The interior of Little Savanna.
Place Palmerston North
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Little Savanna’s expert fit-out gives this South African-inspired restaurant a unique visual identity on the Palmerston North dining scene. With strong food and drink offerings to match, it’s a complete lunch or dinner destination in the heart of the city.