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Best of Wellington: EVIL TWINS

Delicious (and caffeinated) jarred drinks by a small family-run business.

Best of Wellington: EVIL TWINS

May 9, 2022 Travel

Natalie and Steph Chin want to take over the world. Calling us after a day of working at their Willis St cafe in Wellington, the sisters apologise for their lack of communication — they’ve been busy. Alongside slinging coffees and manning the cafe floor, the Chins also make their extremely popular jar drinks daily, delivering them to the doorsteps of caffeine-deprived Wellingtonians, as well as those who walk through the doors. “We’d also love to distribute them globally, take the Evil Twins overseas,” Natalie says casually.

Evil Twins started as a small hole-in-the-wall coffee spot in a studio space on Vivian St. They were just 19. “We felt like we needed to try something new,” Natalie told us. She was struggling at university, and neither had any idea of what they wanted to do, but they’d always wanted to work in hospitality. “It was really daunting, but there was nothing to lose.” Their brother-in-law Victor, who leased out the studio space they set up shop in, was the one to push the two; he now works behind-the-scenes on the marketing and social media side of the business.

While still at Vivian St, the twins perfected their barista skills and found a niche — and a sizable fan base — with iced jar drinks, which include a triple-shot latte, Double Trouble iced chocolate, Cheeky Peachy iced jar and the Matcha Love, all made with oat milk. The latter is one they’re particularly proud of. “I was so obsessed with matcha at the time,” Natalie said, “and we found no one in Wellington had that really good bitterness. We’d been to Japan before and found everything here was either too bitter, or too watery. There was no balance. Now so many people say we have the best matcha in Wellington, which is just so cool.” The matcha Natalie uses is 100% ceremonial pure matcha.

The jar drinks were also a much- needed back-up business model for operating during a pandemic; in fact, the delivery service started during lockdown, when access to barista- level coffee was especially difficult. “It was super-nice to hear when customers said we were what got them through the lockdown.”

With Natalie previously studying fine arts and Steph studying graphic design, Evil Twins has a very specific — and cool — street-style aesthetic (see their logo of two interlocking devils forming a horned heart), stemming from their love of fashion and labels like Brain Dead. “We wanted it to reflect our edginess, really.” Fans can also buy a range of merch (like cooler bags and totes), clothing (hoodies and tees) and even jewellery. This expansion was an easy no-brainer for them, as they’d always intended Evil Twins to be more than just a coffee shop — they wanted to fold in their many other interests. It’s helped hugely in solidifying Evil Twins as a brand, which has seen customers come in from all over New Zealand (particularly Auckland, they say) who follow them on Instagram.

Evil Twins also use their own blend of coffee beans, making sure they have complete control over their product to ensure taste, but also that they can be as sustainable as possible (the beans are carbon- neutral, fair trade and sourced from organic Peruvian farms). You can buy the beans to take home, too. “It’s important to us that our customers can have a taste of Evil,” they say.

At the moment, Evil Twins is a family co-owned business: along with brother-in-law Victor, their older sister, Vanessa, is also involved. But, as has already become clear, going bigger is at the forefront of their mind. “We’d love to be in more supermarkets, have more stores around New Zealand.” And, of course, be on the shelves overseas. Willis St to the world.

Evil Twins, 161b Willis St, Te Aro

This column was published in Metro 434.
Available here in print and pdf.

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