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New Zealand's Best Coffee a Tribute to James Bond

Michael Guy - 31/08/07

The logo used for New Zealand's best coffee is a gun ­ perhaps not exactly James Bond's Walther PK ­ and the blend is titled AA7 rather than 007, but the coffee from Auckland gourmet roaster Toasted Espresso has proved to be the smoking gun at the New Zealand Coffee Awards.

Roasted by Toasted Espresso at a roastery in Auckland's Wairau Valley on the North Shore, AA7 received the highest number of points from judges who tasted more than 200 coffees ­ a record number of entries ­ at this year's New Zealand Coffee Festival in Auckland. The blend also won the Gold Medal in the Flat White category at the 4th annual awards.

Toasted Espresso, with a tiny espresso bar in the Auckland suburb of Takapuna, was founded in 2001 by two friends, Stuart Cross and Chris Innes. They won a Bronze medal in the 2004 NZ Coffee Awards, stepped up to Silver in 2006, and took Gold and the Supreme award this year.

Winners Stuart Cross (left) with Chris Innes (right)
Winners Stuart Cross (left) with Chris Innes (right)
Photo source New Zealand Coffee Festival
Click here to view a larger version

"We had developed our blend from coffee beans including some from Kenya with a premium AA rating," recalls Chris Innes. "Then James Bond somehow came into the picture so we called it our AA7 blend. We also started promoting it on our advertising boards as 'The Best Shot' meaning the best shot of espresso."

"I wanted to produce a coffee that everybody would like and that was a nice round coffee," adds Stuart Cross, "perhaps a bit like an excellent Riesling which everybody likes, rather than a Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay which tend to divide people who generally like one or the other,"

Currently Toasted Espresso supplies its coffees to customers mainly in Auckland, though it is slowly spreading its wings supplying the likes of Ascension Vineyard in Matakana, Equation in Whangamata, The Back Porch Café in Mt Maunganui, Taupo's Flax Café, Xpresso Bar in Rotorua, and it even flies coffee across the Tasman to supply Village Espresso in Sydney's Greenwich.

And just as James Bond prefers his martini "Shaken, not stirred!" he would probably prefer his AA7 espresso "Stirred, not shaken!" to preserve its rich crema for what is now New Zealand's best coffee.

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