Ben Boyle's café, Barista Empire on Fort Street in the CBD, has already been the subject of a number of reviews, all of which have been very positive
Ben is an award-winning barista, having won the Northern Region Barista competition in 2005 and 2006 and come second in the same two years at the National competition. All of which means that Ben is probably the best barista in Auckland (on the assumption that the national winner can't have been from the Northern Region).
Ben is passionate about his coffee and it would be hard to find another café to match the quality of his passion. Ben roasts his own coffee beans and makes the coffee himself. He currently uses a friend's roaster but has just put a new roaster into the café - all he need now is to connect the plumbing and ventilation.
Ben's special blend of coffee comprises a mix of beans from Sumatra, Brazil, Papua New Guinea and Mexico. Although he wouldn't say what proportions the beans are mixed in, he has definitely come up with a superior blend.
If you're a coffee aficionado, you should probably go for a single or double espresso: no bitterness whatsoever and the perfect layer of crema on top. However, Ben also does a mean long macchiato.
But I suggest that you don't turn up at Barista Empire wearing lycra between 10.00 and 2.00, as the place will be full of the cufflinks crowd. After a slow start at the end of last year, word of mouth has been so good that there is standing room only between 10.00 and 11.00. Ben's has definitely become the coffee destination of choice for the lawyers and bankers in the CBD.
At 7.00 the place is a lot quieter and you can get a good seat inside or outside. With temperatures starting to drop it'll be warm and cosy sitting at the high table with the gas fire going, supping a perfect coffee, while spreading out a newspaper or magazine. If you're hungry, you can also get some pretty decent toast and bagels, as well as a good selection of panini, muffins and sweet brioches.