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2006 Awards for NZ's Best Cafes

Café magazine

Press Release – Monday, July 2

New Zealand’s Best Cafés – Cafe magazine New Zealand Best Cafe Awards

A café with its own coffin, and one without an espresso machine!


A Matamata café with the owner’s dinner-suited coffin in one corner has been named New Zealand’s best café for 2006, while the runner-up doesn’t even have an espresso machine.

Workman’s Café in Matamata has been judged New Zealand’s best cafe in the annual New Zealand Best Cafe Awards announced today by Cafe magazine.

Runner-up is The Sticky Beak Café at Otatara near Invercargill.

The annual awards, now in their 8th year, recognise the best cafe and runner-up in the various regions throughout the country.

Cafe awards convenor, Michael Guy, said cafes are all judged anonymously for everything from the standard of preparation and presentation of their coffee, to surroundings, service and food.

National Winner – Workman’s, Matamata

Over the years Workman’s Café (52 Broadway, 07.888 5498) in the rural town of Matamata in the Waikato has been a regular placegetter in the Café magazine annual Best Café Awards, but this year it triumphs as New Zealand’s overall best café.

Workman’s, one of the most written-about cafes in the country, has often been described as “bizarre” because the owner’s coffin, its exterior painted with a grey suit and black tie, is a prominent part of the décor? Lots of mirrors from the 1950s decorate one wall, hundreds of postcards from traveling customers decorate another, a line of freestanding ashtrays a few decades old are lined up in the second dining area, opposite Sid Workman’s coffin and also facing the graveyard of “old trannies”, those miniature transistor radios we used to listen to in years gone by.

Sid Workman runs Workman’s in partnership with chef Lisanne Baukema. “We have a large number of regulars who travel between Auckland and Taupo who just ring up a couple of hours before arriving to book a table and at the same time order their favourite dish,” laughs Lisanne. Sid and Lisanne change the menu every few weeks, relying heavily on fresh local produce and what’s available seasonally, but they don’t dare take off the favourite dishes such as the Steak with burnt sauce – a blend of cream, garlic and black pepper that they caramelize – or the Vegetable fritters or their own Chicken and bacon pate. The coffee is from Wellington roaster Supreme.

National Runner-up – The Sticky Beak Café, Otatara, Southland

The national runner-up in the New Zealand Best Café Awards, Southland’s The Sticky Beak Café (62 Vyner Rd, Otatara, 03.213 0984), occupies a little old house which owner Heather Munro converted into a café after living there for a number of years.

Off the beaten track in the developing Otatara area, about 10 minutes or so from Invercargill’s CBD, The Sticky Beak only opens for Sunday lunch from 11.30am-5pm, or at other times by appointment. If that’s not a bit strange, then the fact that it doesn’t even have an espresso machine might prove to be a bit hard to take for those wanting their favourite flat white or cappuccino to start the day.

The locals book for long lunches in the wildflower garden, or inside by the fireplace, while Heather and her daughter Rachel prepare their fabulous food, from a Summer vegetable risotto with marscarpone and salad, to Garden herb omelette with sourdough toast and salad. The coffee, filter brewed is the Melbourne blend from Auckland coffee roasters, Burton Hollis. It’s a terrific finale to The Sticky Beak’s fare and what it proved to us was that for a café to be fantastic the coffee doesn’t have to be a trendy latte. The best simply brewed coffee can be every bit as delicious as the finest espresso from a machine.

The 2005 Best Café Awards

National Winner: Workman’s, Matamata

Runner-up: The Sticky Beak Café, Otatara, Invercargill


Winner: Caffeine Espresso, Whangarei. Runner-up: The Beach House, Waipu Cove.


Winner: Dragonfly, Matamata. Runner-up: Queen St Corner Café, Warkworth.


Winner: Landreth & Co, Ponsonby. Runner-up: La Cigale, Parnell.


Winner: Bravo, Tauranga. Runner-up: Fusion, Tauranga


Winner: Velocity, Whitianga. Runner-up: Sola, Thames


Winner: Capers. Runner-up: Lime


Winner: Workman’s, Matamata. Runner-up: Scott’s Epicurean, Hamilton.


Winner: Verve. Runner-up: Café Villagagio


Winner: Hep Sep Mooch, Napier. Runner-up: Forj, Napier.


Winner: Mustard Seed Café, Turangi. Runner-up: Zest, Taupo.


Winner: Elixir, New Plymouth. Runner-up: Eden Café, New Plymouth.


Winner: Jolt. Runner-up: Ceramic.


Winner: Sage, Feilding. Runner-up: Barista, Palmerston North.


Winner: The French Baker, Greytown. Runner-up: Café Cecille, Masterton.


Winner: Olive. Runner-up: Nikau Gallery Café.


Winner: CPR, Blenheim. Runner-up: The Store, Kekerengu.


Winner: Morrison St Café. Runner-up: Bardelicious.


Winner: Station House Café, Lake Brunner. Runner-up: Bay House Café, Westport.


Winner: Nor’Wester Café, Amberley. Runner-up: Hapuku, Kaikoura.


Winner: Vivace, Chch. Runner-up: Dunsadel Store, Dunsadel.


Winner: Le Monde, Timaru. Runner-up: Riverside Café, Geraldine


Winner: Nova, Dunedin. Runner-up: Fleur’s Place, Moeraki.


Winner: The Sticky Beak Café, Otatara. Runner-up: The Moth, Gore.


Winner: Leonardo’s, Queenstown. Runner-up: Forge, Queenstown.

Michael Guy can be contacted for comment on 027.4958511


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