Suva Coffee Shop Review
As a born and bred Wellingtonian, coming to Fiji for two months poses more challenges for me than your typical visitor. Rated by CNN as one of the top 8 places in the world to get a good cuppa coffee, Wellington has roasteries on just about every street corner. Well not quite, but it’s close. Off the top of my head I can name ten brands of beans that are roasted in Wellington and I’m pretty sure there’s more. Not only do I come from Wellington, but I also work in a café. To put the sugar on top, I am a trained barista. So you can imagine that on arrival in Suva, I was soon off on a mission to find a coffee shop serving a brew up to my high Wellington standards. Mocha is my choice of drink, however in Fiji I have found they are called hot mochas, because of the popularity of iced mochas. In Wellington a flat white comes in a tulip cup, in Fiji a small mocha comes in a cup larger than the largest size in New Zealand. As I have been told by my work mates: “When in Rome do as the Romans do.” This is the conclusion I have come to in Fiji.
Republic of Cappuccino- Experience: 3.5/5 Coffee: 3/5
My first escapade to find coffee was easy. Recommended by expatriate locals the Republic of Cappuccino was my first stop. Having arrived only the day before, this was my first experience buying anything in Fiji and it was more expensive that I expected. I ordered a small mocha and when it arrived I was unsure if it was mine because it was ginormous. I can only wonder what a large size might be. The coffee was frothy and pleasant although not very strong. However this can be accounted for because of the amount of milk that must have gone into that giant
mug. What I liked most about this place, second to the free wifi, is the guy that was making the coffee seemed to know every single customer that walked through the door, greeting each one as friends not customers.
Café Noir- Experience: 3.5/5 Coffee: 4.5/5
My second experience was just as satisfactory as my first. If you want a quiet place to enjoy a coffee, Café Noir is the place to go. While located on busy Victoria Parade this café has a relaxed feel with friendly staff. My mocha came with a small cupcake on the side, not really a bonus as it was a very expensive coffee. I was charged for a hot chocolate and an extra shot for the coffee. However on arrival the mocha looked beautiful and the taste was also good. Very chocolaty, this mocha was stronger than my last although still not to the strength I am used to. Again probably because of the size.
Moments- Experience: 4/5 Coffee: 4/5
On arrival at Moments, my first thoughts were that this coffee shop has personality. A cute photo wall on one side with hanging industrial lights, this café just calls for you to put your feet up and chill. My friend, who is from China, was trying to find something familiar to eat. The woman serving at the counter told her she was out of luck and treated us as if we were unknowledgeable tourists. This hostile service was remedied, however, by the friendly guy who made and delivered our coffees. My hot mocha was the strongest one so far with the coffee to hot chocolate ratio more even than at Café Noir.
Palm Court Bistro- Experience: 3.5/5 Coffee: 3/5
The greatest thing about this café is that it is outside. But never fear, there is shelter from the sun. Located in Palm Court just off Victoria Parade this was a great place to have breakfast before work. The staff were lovely and helpful with our food and drinks arriving quickly, no ‘Fiji time’ at play here! My coffee you may ask? I got my hot mocha, but there was nothing special to note. Just a large cup of heated milk with lots of chocolate and a little bit of coffee.
Café Victoria- Experience: 1.5/5 Coffee: 2.5/5
While having a doorman might colour some people’s opinions of a café, I would have much rather had that person contributing to making my coffee quicker. Café Victoria may have had many staff working when I visited during lunchtime but it did not contribute to quick and efficient service. I ordered at the counter and then proceeded to sit near the coffee machine where I watched for a good five minutes before anyone started to make my coffee. From personal experience, making a coffee takes about a minute and when I finally got my coffee I was not impressed enough to be convinced of a return trip to Café Victoria.
Contain Yourself Café- Experience: 4/5 Coffee: 1/5
The cheapest place on the list apart from the market, I love that this place is outside near the water. However that is as far as the positives go. Although opening at 7am, when we showed up sometime after 8am there was no food. So I went back the next day to get my hot mocha. It was grainy and had no flavour, not one I would recommend.
Mad Hatter Hut- Experience: 4/5 Coffee: 1.5/5
Probably the cutest café yet, this place had a clear theme and backed it up with amazing, creative sweet food to choose from. However the downside was the coffee was not good. It looked amazing but did not match up to the appearance.
Market- Experience: 4.5/5 Coffee: 3.5/5
On the recommendation of a friend this was my final destination on the list. You can’t experience true Fiji without getting a coffee from the market. Instant coffee and milk powder with boiling water poured on top. The only thing that will make it more Fijian would be to add two big spoonfulls of sugar. Even though this was instant coffee it definitely hit the spot. This was an experience that met the brief of a good, simple coffee (and an amazing peanut butter pancake). Although not somewhere I would go and take my book, it is a great place to experience authentic Fijian culture.
Gloria Jeans- Experience: 3/5 Coffee: 3/5
Gloria Jeans was on the list purely because it is the main chain store coffee shop in Suva. Chain stores are definitely a hit with expatriates and business people, with the one I went to filled with men in suits – not a very common sight in Fiji. The coffee was what you’d expect from a chain store, coming in a takeaway cup even though I was having it there. The downside was that it was so hot it covered up the taste and when it had cooled down the coffee was grainy and not very creamy.