For a long time, Ashleigh Harvey dreamed of owning her own café when she was older. “I realised I’m actually old now, and should probably do something about it,” she told Restaurant & Café. A late bloomer, Harvey only started making coffee in August when she started working at The Strand in Parnell.

Harvey grew up in the English city of Hull, a city which she said is mainly recognised in New Zealand due to it having two rugby league teams. After leaving home at 18 and living for the next decade in York, the desire to travel won out and she left to spend six months journeying through Asia, Australia and finally New Zealand. She now spends most of her time making memories with her ‘adopted’ New Zealand family. “Working at The Strand Café feels like being part of a family,” she said. “Our customers are part of that family. I actually love them all.”

Managing The Strand is a full-time job for Harvey, a job made easier due to good customers and good music. Fat Freddy’s Drop is a favourite. “It’s a regular on our playlist, and always puts me in a good mood.”

The world of coffee can be a strange place at times, and The Strand is no exception. “Our Super Sex Latte is pretty interesting,” she explained. “A double shot of People’s Coffee, coconut milk, honey, maca powder, cinnamon and cacao. It’s kind of like a healthy mocha.” While Harvey cringes at the order of a “decaf almond mocha with an extra shot,” you’d never catch her making such a request – just a long black, with a little cream and sugar. Her secret to pulling the perfect shot? “Weight in, weight out, pressure and a little bit of love.”

In her spare time she enjoys ‘researching’ good food and drinks with friends – “I especially enjoy researching wine!”