Hunting for the Best Coffee in Suva

After having a two-week trip to Suva extended to six, I decided to start hunting around for the best local coffee spots. For a seriously spoilt, Sydney coffee head like me, finding the right coffee spot was essential to my productivity while writing, working remotely and meeting people in Suva.

With a few pointers from coffee loving friends and #TeamFiji on twitter, I began my search at Bulaccino Garden City, over to Ginger Kitchen at the Fiji Museum, Palm Court Bistro, Moments Café, Tea Time House, ROC Café, Hillcrest at Peninsula Hotel and Governors Fiji. These are my honest reviews, which include the good, and the ones that ended with instant coffee added to my cup.

My usual order is an almond mocha – call me a hipster if you like, but my choice of coffee is thanks to a sweet tooth and a mild intolerance to lactose. I enjoy my coffee reasonably hot, stronger on the coffee side than milk or chocolate. The average cup of coffee in Suva has been between $5-6FJD, which is expensive for the local buyer, but given the average cup of coffee in Sydney is $3-4AUD (converting to $5-6FJD), the cost in Suva has been reasonable for me. Most café’s stock soymilk, skim and full cream but I haven’t found almond milk… yet. Alternatively, I still enjoyed coffee with skim milk with hopes that almond might make an appearance if I ask often enough.

Now I’m no coffee expert, I haven’t tried every single café in Suva, and reviews aren’t really my thing (I didn’t let anyone know that I’d be reviewing their coffee, other than a waiter at Govenors this morning right before I left their café) – but I would’ve loved to have read something like this when I arrived in Suva this time – so I’m sharing in the hopes that my fellow coffee lovers will find my experiences helpful.

Bulaccino Garden City

A few days into my time in Suva, I found myself standing in the queue at Bulaccino with a girlfriend from Sydney. “It’s the only place in this city with decent coffee.” I was hopeful.

I ordered a take away mocha with skim. The service was wonderful, and the staff obviously knew my friend as they were calling her by name. While I was waiting for my coffee, I noticed that the warm customer service extended to anyone who walked in.

A few minutes after ordering came the moment of truth – would the coffee be any good? I was hanging for a good coffee and was overly thankful that it was indeed decent and delicious. Served hot, which meant I could slowly enjoy it a couple of minutes after we left the café. It was stronger on the chocolate side than I would’ve liked, but I’d still happily order coffee from Bulacinno again. They also served our takeaway coffees with shortbread biscuits, which I was very pleased with! It reminded me of my local Italian barista in Sydney who does exactly the same thing.

Ginger Kitchen

Coffee and lunch at Ginger Kitchen.

I don’t think I would’ve noticed this café if my sister’s office wasn’t next door. It’s tucked away in Suva’s beautiful botanical Thurston Gardens, attached to the Fiji Museum. I love that it’s somewhat secluded, a great place to think, write or catch up with close friends.

The staff at Ginger Kitchen are lovely – I think I’ve now been so many times that I’ve been served by every single staff member! Special mention to their barista, who’s warm customer service and coffee making skills got me through multiple cups of coffee and chunks of writing throughout my time here in Suva.

The coffee here has been my favourite in Suva. The wait time is reasonably quick, the coffee is always served hot, and the blend is such that the coffee is more prominent than the milk and chocolate. Their barista’s creativity means your coffee is usually served artistically – flowers, smiley faces and even Mickey Mouse designs! I’ve also enjoyed their food and sour slush drink, but for me, their coffee trumps everything on the menu.

Palm Court Bistro

Ok so no espresso coffee here, but I wanted to make a sneaky mention of Palm Court because their exceptional menu (delicious food, generous servings and warm customer service) has been my absolute favourite in Suva for more than 15 years. It’s so good that I don’t care that they don’t have the coffee I want, which is saying a lot coming from a coffee head like me!

Moments Café

Lovely customer service here. The staff seem to be in their early 20s and I love seeing them run the place (which they do quite well from a customer’s perspective). It’s in the heart of Suva so it’s a convenient spot for meetings, but not ideal if you’re wanting to have an uninterrupted catch up if you or the person you’re meeting is Fijian (in one sitting at least four relatives approached my friend and I to say hello – which was lovely, but not ideal for the flow of our discussion).

Breakfast roti roll (egg) at Moments Café.

A cup of coffee at Moments has been one I enjoy when Ginger Kitchen is closed. The coffee often takes time to get to you, which I didn’t mind because I’ve never been in a rush while there, and also because the coffee has been quite nice! Served hot, with a more milky chocolate taste than coffee. The time one time I asked the barista to add another shot of coffee, he smiled and said, “need an extra kick this morning, eh?” which I loved. He was really nice about it and brought it back out to me tasting much more coffee-er than before.

The food here is also nice if you’re looking for a quick bite, my recommendation is their delicious breakfast roti roll at $3 a pop.

Tea Time House

A friend recommended we catch up here, and while I didn’t order coffee, I did enjoy sipping on her chai latte. Service here is lovely, the barista was the only one there and allowed me to bring in my take away coffee cup from Bulaccino. It’s a quiet spot in the heart of Suva that’s ideal for private catch ups or meetings. (Featured image on this post was taken at Tea Time House).

ROC Café Suva

Coffee at ROC Café.

A popular spot on edge of Suva city, I had high hopes for the coffee at the ROC café. I’ve had iced coffee here a few times on previous trips, but on this particular one I went to ROC on two separate occasions, and both times I quite enjoyed the coffee. The mug size is huge – a regular sized coffee is generous to say the least!

The coffee taste was more prominent than both chocolate and milk, which I enjoyed, however by the time I saw the bottom of the mug I could feel my heart rate accelerate… and didn’t get to sleep until 3am both times! The coffee here is perfect for people looking for a bitter brew and can handle the kick. The service is friendly and it seems like the staff are familiar with the large amount of regulars that flow in and out of the café, calling many of them by name and remembering their “regular” coffee order.

Hillcrest at Peninsula Hotel

I’ve ordered coffee here twice, and on both occasions I was staying that the Peninsula Hotel. The service was friendly, especially when I took my coffee back the first time as it was lukewarm. The barista was kind enough to remake it for me, serving it piping hot. She was also very professional and friendly about it.

While it was delicious, the coffee brew was not prominent – I could’ve sworn it was a hot chocolate until my non-coffee drinking cousin took a sip and confirmed it definitely had coffee in it. I took it up to my room and shamefully added two teaspoons of Moccona instant coffee.

The food served here was nice, I had a club sandwich and chips and a side of wedges and sour cream for my cousin. The second time I ordered food was this morning, which ended with me cancelling – the chef refused to exchange certain foods on my cousin’s big breakfast order. I knew in this case it had nothing to do with the waitress, barista and overall customer service of Peninsula or Hillcrest (which has been great so far), and more to do with the particular chef (bad day, communication break down, etc.), so I decided to walk away. I left hangry, retreating to Governors Fiji on Knolly Street.

Governors Fiji

Big Breakfast at Governors Fiji.

First of all, I love the setting – decorated with historical photographs and paintings of Fiji and the Pacific (you can read more about the history of Governors here). I ordered their big breakfast: served hot and generously. What I loved most was the huge chunk of Rewa butter with the toast.

The coffee was served piping hot, so it needed a few minutes to cool down before tasting. The coffee to milk ratio was well balanced, I enjoyed that the coffee was stronger than chocolate and milk. I think this coffee is on par with Moments café.

The service is lovely here, even during peak hour (I arrived at 10:30am) I was still served promptly and my order was correct (down to serving my baked beans in a separate bowl… long story). It’s a great spot to catch up with friends or have a family breakfast, and by looking around me I can see that majority here are doing just that – aside from a gentleman reading the paper at the table ahead of me, I am the only person sitting here alone.

In a nutshell…

All in all, the coffee scene in Suva has stepped up it’s game in the last five years. Last year while here I ordered a flat white from Gloria Jeans next to the main ANZ branch in the city, and I quite enjoyed it. Since then, and as you’ve just read, I’ve had time to explore the different coffee spots that Suva has to offer. Overall it’s been mostly positive and the only criticism I have of coffee in general in Suva, is that I have yet to find a full bodied cup of coffee. I think this will come with time as the coffee culture grows, the variety and quality of coffee broadens, and the experience and expertise of baristas continues to develop. In the meantime, I am both proud and thankful for the cafés and baristas that are making their mark as the coffee experts across Suva.

talanoa

Arieta Tora Rika is a Tongan-Fijian Freelance Writer, Digital Marketing and Communications Specialist, and Talanoa's Founder and Creative Director. Born in Darlinghurst in the late 80s, she spent most of her childhood in Fiji, New Zealand and Australia, and all of her teen years in Tonga. She now lives in Western Sydney with her husband Josese.