Can I get a cappuccino in Fiji?
“If you are seriously worrying about coffee, you got problems!!” was the response to one of the traveller’s questions I read on a facebook post on a popular Fiji Holidaying page.
This poor fella from Melbourne was asking whether he could buy his daily coffee when on holidays in Fiji, and more importantly, whether it was any good.
I totally get it. That’s a question I would have asked too!
If you are a coffee drinker (like me!) you will totally get the anxiety about whether you will be able to get your daily cup when on holidays or when moving to a new country as an Expat.
I do only have one cup per day, so I figure, it has to be a good one. It’s my little bit of morning happiness, starts my day off right, puts a spring in my step, makes the birds sing louder and more in tune – well you get the picture. Plus I love the vibe of sitting in a cafe, and taking in the atmosphere, people watching, chatting to friends or my Hubby. I take all that into consideration when I undertake my daily habit.
I didn't start drinking coffee until I was 30, and I will happily admit it that it was peer pressure that made me do it. I was sick of going out for 'coffee' and drinking Diet Coke, so I eased my way in with a Cuppaccino with two super-sweet sugars. A few months later I dropped the sugars - let me tell you I thought I was hard-core! After another few months, I started on the Latte, but I added my sprinkling of happiness in the form of chocky powder (and no, it's not a cuppaccino -the froth is different!! Sheeeesh - and yes, I have had to say that too many times for a happy coffee drinker to remain happy!).
More recently, I have cut a lot of things from my diet, including milk, so now I have a long black with a dash of pure pouring cream. Whereas my Hubby, he has been a flat-white-in-a-mug guy for as long as I can remember. What’s your coffee style?
Anyway, back to the point of the post… So I do think the person answering was a little harsh, and I am going to help a brother out and answer his question in a little more detail.
There is coffee in Fiji. Yes, there is. (yay!)
And as the years pass there is more access to better quality coffee. In 2009, we would pay for a daily cappuccino (in the resort we stayed at - we didn't realise we could drive to a café in Fiji!), and receive an instant coffee with frothed up milk – yes, I know what you are thinking – totally gross!
In 2011, I was so worried about not getting my daily cup, I did a coffee detox for a few weeks before leaving Australia- well, my excuse is that I didn’t want to get withdrawals whilst on holiday. (And I’m sticking to that!)
In 2012, we were living in Suva and coffee became my mission. I tried all cafes, and found my favourites. My friend in the upstairs apartment and I would make coffee dates with eachother to “update” which was code for “finding the best coffee in Fiji and getting our hit”. On one trip back to Brisbane, I bought one of those Italian coffee steamer contraptions – you know the ones that you put on the stove and the coffee steams through it – my friend and I then made it our mission to find decent coffee to put in it. It was our daily struggle. And the struggle was real!
In 2014, living as expats in Fiji, we bought our Nespresso machine over with a generous (very generous!) supply of pods. The milk let that idea down a bit.
And that is precisely where I think someone new to drinking coffee in Fiji will get stuck. The milk.
The most common type of milk available is UHT (long life) – it does affect the taste of a coffee – I won’t lie. But you will handle it. There is fresh milk available but it isn’t that common, and plus it is so hot most of the time, that I found transporting it back and forth was the problem with keeping it fresh. When I travel, I bring long-life pouring cream with me (Devondale brand).
Our coffee expectations are just based on what we are used to, so to say the coffee is no good in Fiji would be wrong. It's perfectly fine for what Fiji is used to, it is also due to factors which happen in a pacific island nation. If you are on an island holiday, and a cyclone hits, for example, its likely that you may have to go without caramel syrup in your latte if they have run out of it. You need to be a little adaptable!! I hope you get where I am going with this!
The Good News
These days there are numerous cafes popping up with really good, well-trained baristas. There is quality coffee beans available, and there is even a Fijian company who harvests coffee from Fiji – and you can buy those beans to take back home with you instead of a more traditional souvenir (try the chocolate covered beans YUMMO!) – they also do a lot of work with local villages providing an income for them.
Anyway, as will always be the case on this blog, my disclaimer is that opinions are based on personal experience, so these recommendations are my opinion only.
But YES my friend, there is definitely coffee available in Fiji, but as it rolls in Australia too, it can be hit and miss to find that brew that will satisfy what you expect.
Here are my best picks for the more populated areas of the Fiji Islands:
WHEN IN… SUVA – THE CAPITAL CITY OF FIJI
Bulaccino – Garden City Yummy, consistently good coffee, wide variety of delicious food to choose from. My absolute fave and a recommendation from me.
FROM SUVA CITY: Grab a taxi from town ($7) and ask to go to Garden City in Raiwaqa, or you could catch the local bus there. From town it will cost you only $1 – hop on the Raiwaqa bus to Grantham Road.
MY TIP: Get there early enough to try their amazing Portugese Tarts with your brew – YUMMO! (but they sell out fast because they are made daily).
I would go so far as to say this is my favourite spot in Fiji for quality coffee and treats. There is air-con seating inside and fresh air seating outside. There are only a couple of shops in the vicinty so you would most likely make the trip to this suburban area specifically for lunch, or a coffee date. (If you are in the West – Nadi or Denerau, there is another Bulaccino for you to try there). Yep, even just thinking about this place, I feel all warm and fuzzy. When you are in another country, it’s often the smallest things that will give you comfort. This is the place that does it for me. Their club sandwich is delish too!
Gloria Jeans – Damodar City I’m not normally a Gloria Jeans fan (sorry to those that are -remember personal opinion and all- and sorry to Mrs Gloria Jean) BUT… there are a few of these franchises across Fiji, and I will go there. The Damodar City one is my favourite out of them all. It has aircon if you’re struggling with the heat, or the choice to sit upstairs in an area blocked off from a huge food-court (think: lunch afterwards). The coffee is kind of inconsistently decent, but the cold drinks are good, and if you are desperate for a caffeine hit and the coffees aren’t doing it for you – try one of their coffee chiller drinks – Swiss Orange Mocha is really yum and has a good shot of coffee. The complex it is located in, Damodar City, is a great place to go, it has a movie cinema which is super cheap by Australian standards, lots of shops to browse and a New World supermarket in which you will be able to purchase lots of “from home” items. It also has a huge foodcourt and a Kids Game Centre (like Timezone kind of). Getting to Damodar – taxi from town $7-8 or local bus $1. It is on Grantham Road, Raiwai, very close to the University of South Pacific campus.
Gloria Jeans – MHCC Building If you have found yourself in Suva from one of the many cruise ships that arrive – it is likely you will find Gloria Jeans in MHCC (a huge shopping centre by Fiji standards) – when I first moved to Suva this is where I would go daily (I hadn't yet found Bulaccino!). The coffee comes in huge mugs, I’m not partial to that, but many people are. It gets really busy here and the staff are lovely, plus you will have a lot of shops to look at and a grocery shop right next to it.
The Roc -Suva City Republic of Cuppaccino is my favourite in the actual city. If I am in town, it’s my go-to. It is popular with the business community and lots of expats, who will fill it with their suits and finery. Coffee is good. It is in the “Dolphins” complex, which is a food court in the business district. So if you want to try there, any taxi driver will know where to go if you ask them to take you to “Dolphins”. If you arrived via cruise ship, it is probably a 15 minute easy walk down the main street, plus added bonus you can check out all the little shops along the way.
WHEN IN… SIGATOKA – THE CORAL COAST
Outrigger Resort & Spa The cafe is near Reception as your enter the Hotel. It has great views and decent coffee. The servings of cake are huge, so grab one to share. It is open air, no air-conditioning, but the breeze is awesome as it is so high up and overlooking the sea. Whilst I was living in Sigatoka, I would drive 15 mins each way daily to grab my brew from here. Easy parking if you have a car, but also very easy to get to by local bus from town for $1. If I couldn’t make it that far, I would head into the main town centre and go to Cuppa Bula in Tappoos. I do recommend Outrigger – lovely atmosphere (feels like you are in Fiji), staff are friendly and the coffee is decent.
View from Outrigger Cafe
Tappoos Cuppa Bula The cafe is inside the large tourist department-type store. It is air-conditioned, and the staff are friendly and lovely. They will always play and laugh with any kids, which will be a bonus to all the parents out there. The coffees are consistently good, because the Barista’s were consistent. There is cafe food available, the pizzas are my favourite! The cakes are not the greatest, but the milkshakes are yummy. If you are in Sigatoka town, this place would be my pick for a coffee.
Jacks It’s a cafe hut on the sidewalk just as you enter the main street of town. It’s open-air, not air-conditioned. To be honest the coffee, for me, was hit and miss. I went through a stage of getting coffee here each morning, and the staff are lovely, but it wasn’t consistent enough for me. I do know people though that swear by it, so again, it’s personal. The seats aren’t that comfy either – metal benches – not my favourite. I like a comfy chair. Good shopping inside though – heaps of well-priced souvenirs.
Shangrila Fijian Resort They opened a dedicated cafe in 2015 and I’ve been there a few times. To be honest, the coffee wasn’t great. The cold drinks were amazing though, and when we found ourselves there, I would end up getting a cold coffee drink, like a Mocha on ice or something similar. It had the caffeine hit I needed, and tasted yummy. The baked goodies were delicious, especially the vanilla slice – probably the best I’ve ever tasted.
However, I want to back this up by saying, it was very new so the staff were learning. I have heard since that it is good and they may have changed to a different brand of coffee – I just can’t say from my experience. I do hope to go back and try it again, and if it has changed I will update this post. If you aren’t an in-house guest, parking and accessing the cafe is a little time consuming. You park in a car park, then walk about 7 minutes up to the main reception and then walk through the resort to find the cafe – it’s not a fast, grab and go, type place – but if you’re on holidays who cares right?
WHEN IN… NADI (or Denerau)
Bulaccino Again, my favourite!! (read Suva section) for all the same reasons as above. There is one in Denerau (super handy for those staying in any one of the Denerau resorts, especially the Sheraton) and one in the main town. Again, it has consistently good coffee, nice atmosphere, aircon or not – your choice!, yummy lunch, fresh baked goodies. I do love me some Bulaccino.
Raddison I would often grab a quick takeaway from here because it was pretty fast, fairly easy to park and it was consistent.
I’ve tried a few other shops in Nadi but honestly, not that many, because I preferred Bulaccino as I found it very consistent. I am keen to try TASTE – I have heard good things – has anyone else tried it and can share with us their thoughts?
Are you an expat living in Fiji, and can add some info about your fav cafe for newcomers? Or have you stayed on holidays in Fiji, and found a real gem of a cafe?
Leave a comment below so I can try these hidden gems, and so readers have some options to choose from when they are on holidays!
I know how serious C O F F E E is, so let’s be kind and respect each others opinions – lol!
Off to have a coffee now! What is your style of coffee?
E N J O Y x