Cuban Guerillas – Midnight Espresso

“It always matters what you do. It always matters what you say. And it always matters what you eat.John Robbin The Food Revolution.

Friday night Midnight Espresso Cuba St and the concrete jungle is still quiet but things are beginning to heat up. Asian students drink milkshakes as a middle age couple grab a quick bite before heading to a nearby show. Two businessmen in suits, who turn out to work for Fonterra, stride in with purpose. Curious, I strike up a conversation to find out why these two have chosen Midnight ``I’m a vegetarian,” says the senior businessman who reveals he has been coming to Midnight since it opened 25 years ago “The food keeps bringing me back”. Midnight Espresso’s decision to cater to vegetarians and vegans came long before Rogernomics led to the need for eateries to diversify and Climate issues promoted vegetarianism. The menu in fact caters for a wide range of diets all however reflects a philosophy of supporting small businesses and where ever possible using ingredients, such as their bacon and chicken, which are organic or free-range products.

The strategy works for while many cafés have come and gone Midnight keeps trucks on with a winning formula which includes kick-arse coffee. The businessmen agree Espresso’s coffee is a big draw for them, especially that Espresso’s coffee is made with organic milk (of course). This leads businessman number two too lament, “It’s a shame Fonterra is phasing out organic milk because it proved unprofitable”, his back turned to a sculpture which sit above the door to Espresso’s Kitchen which states “The people of the world in the clutches of the evil god of righteous greed”.

I ask the barista the background of the owner, Hamish MacIntyre, who uncomfortable with publicity, has retreated to read his newspaper. “Oh, he was a farmer”. ‘What did he farm?’ I ask. “Gorillas,” Hamish pipes up before burying himself back in his paper. Looking around, I can’t help thinking Hamish isn’t referring to banana eating apes but simians who have a more revolutionary driven agenda.


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