© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2024

Where to go for your CBD coffee

Emma Turton
Moss wall
The moss wall inside Little Brews Espresso  Emma Turton

Tucked away in the BNZ Centre courtyard, Little Brews Espresso caters to business people who just want to duck out for a coffee on their 10-minute break.

But Owner and Barista Jo Lawler offers so much more than just coffee. With a nod and grin she greets customers, usually by name, makes the coffees, and keeps up a friendly patter of conversation.

Lawler operated Little Brews Espresso out of her coffee van during the years following the earthquake, up until December 2016 when the boutique shop opened.

She describes her store as "friendly, local and passionate", these values can be seen as she interacts with the regular customers, all the while making their coffee concoction.

It’s a small, modern and eco-friendly coffee shop with eight tables and the compact kitchen near the entrance offering all sorts of yummy treats.

The store is effectively a concrete box, that gets "very cold in the winter" but it’s what’s inside that counts.

One of the cafe walls is home to a live moss piece created by New Zealand plant-scaping business OutsideIn.

Relaxed pop tunes flow quietly from the speakers and meeting mumbles rumble between the four businessmen at the tables.

Lawler points out that the crochet animals that can be seen in the space are made by a local lady who initially created them for love, but after some persuasion was convinced to sell them through the shop.

The little store uses compostable plant-based takeaway coffee cups made by Innocent Packaging, and recyclable carry-bags, coffee grinds and milk cartons.

At the counter, a tip jar stands proudly accepting tips that go towards different causes. Every $200 made in tips is donated to a local or deserving cause such as New Zealand Forest and Bird, or, in another case; a customers’ dog vet bill.

The friendly feel of the place is built on with a picture of Jos’ dog ‘Assos’, the doggy ambassador of the store. This adds another level of friendliness to the local shop, because customers feel that they could run into Jo and Assos out walking in Hagley Park.

It may be a grab'n'go, hole-in-the-wall coffee shop, but this is the kind of place you would want to stay and chat.