27 College St, Te Aro, Wellington
Opens 7am weekdays, 8am Sat, 9am Sun; closes 4pm
Granola $15, Crumble $17, Porridge $12; L’affare coffee (incl filter), Enzo Orient tea
Caffe L’affare set up a coffee roasting business with an attached café (or was it the other way around?) in the light industrial and warehousing area of Te Aro in 1990. It wasn’t a promising location for a café but things took off: other cafés offering ‘real coffee’ (i.e. locally roasted espresso) were grungy places like Midnight Espresso, Espressoholic and Deluxe. L’affare was industrial chic and the concept found a strong fan base as the area itself gradually gentrified. Being located opposite foodie store Moore Wilsons probably helped.
I tried the porridge a while back and found it quite good, so I thought I’d better give the granola a go too. It is described on the menu as a seed and nut granola with sweet and sour goji berries, mixed berry compote and Greek yoghurt. Coconut yoghurt is $3 extra. Starting from the top of the dish, yes there were crispy goji berries on the yoghurt. I wouldn’t say they were sweet and sour though, and they didn’t bear much resemblance to how you usually see them. They were like brittle, dried out shells. I’m not sure if they are prepared in the land of goji berries, wherever that is (China actually), or somehow made locally from the regular dried sort.
Around the side of the yoghurt was the compote. This included strawberries (a bland and textureless addition to compotes in my view), perhaps some boysenberries, and a strip of preserved orange peel. The latter was the most interesting bit and I would happily have had some more.
Under everything was the granola. It is labelled as gluten-free, so I assume there were no oats in it. The bulk of it seemed to be dried fruit rather than the advertised seeds and nuts. That’s sultanas, apricot, pawpaw and cranberries – the usual suspects. There were some delicious roasted almonds though, as well as walnuts, macadamias and pumpkin and sunflower seeds. There were coconut flakes too.
Most noticeable were the small puffed grains (amaranth?) that stuck to everything. I’m not sure if there was a fine coating of honey that created that stickiness, but certainly I did leave the eatery feeling over sugared – mainly from the dried fruit I think.
My companion had the ‘breakfast crumble’ , listed on the menu as ‘apple, walnut and coffee crumble with salted caramel sauce’. I’m not sure there was any apple, but that’s fine, as there were poached pears beneath the crumble. We didn’t taste any coffee either. And mercifully the caramel sauce came in a jug, so you could choose not to pour it over what was already a sweet mix. We were expecting something crisp and crunchy for the crumble but it had the soft consistency of a muffin.
L’affare has a lot in common with Prefab. Which is not surprising, since the original owners sold L’affare to create Prefab. They are in the same neighbourhood and share the industrial aesthetic, the large seating accommodation, tight quality control and high level of popularity. I think people come for the consistent and reliable food or coffee, especially of the coffee. The single origin batch filter (V60 and cold brew are also available) was certainly the best I’ve had for a while.
There are two parts to L’affare: the dark, barn-like bit behind the counter and, in front, a quieter section with limited seating and natural daylight. You can buy coffee and coffee-making equipment here as well.
In case you were wondering, the name Caffe L’affare combines the Italian words for coffee (caffe) and business, bargain or deal (l’affare). Exactly what you are left with I’m not quite sure. Coffee business? Strictly speaking, the first word should have a grave accent: caffè.
Quite good granola, with a decent nut and seed content, but WAY too much dried fruit. The crumble is fairly sweet too, and a bit sickly unless you are accustomed to having pudding for breakfast. Great filter coffee though.
Reviewed November 2021.
Menus, ingredients and opening hours may change. Check with eatery before you visit.