Downtown Christchurch is home to one of the most unique and quirky cafes in the world. On the corner of Tuam and High St, the C1 Espresso Cafe is known for its mini burgers or sliders. But C1 does not just serve burgers like any other food joint. They shoot your food through pneumatic tubes at 140kmph. The owner apparently got this idea while watching a popular American cartoon program called Futurama. Having heard so much about this place, we decided to pay a visit while we were in Christchurch.
The cafe initially looks like a normal food joint, but one thing that we noticed right away were the unusually high ceilings. Upon a closer look, we saw a network of glass tubes coming out from the kitchen and having outlets at various tables. From initial impressions, we felt that this was going to be an interesting experience.
We first had to go to the counter and order our food. The smoothies on the menu looked really interesting. So, we ordered a feijoa (a south american fruit), and a chocolate-mango smoothie. We also ordered the main attraction, sliders (mini burgers) with some fries. They had 2 vegetarian slider options, black bean and edamame. We ordered both. After ordering and paying, we took a seat at an empty table.
Our smoothies came within a few minutes. Both were absolutely delicious. I looked around our table for one of the many pneumatic glass tube outlets, and saw one right behind us. Apparently, our food would come over there, straight from the kitchen. With this pneumatic system, your food basically comes straight from the chef to the table, without any waiters involved. After waiting for sometime, we heard a pop sound followed by a ring. I turned back and saw a canister waiting at the tube. I walked over to see if our name was written on it, and it was. It was our order, and I tried to figure out how to retrieve it. The lady at the counter gestured to me with a twisting motion. After struggling around for a bit, I managed to twist the bottom section of the glass tube outlet, which opened up the tube outlet and allowed me to remove the canister. Within a few minutes a second canister arrived with the customary pop and ring sound. This second canister was in fact our second burger. This time around, I had no trouble retrieving the canister.
With all our food (canister) and drinks at the table, we were ready to eat. But first, we had to figure out how to open the canisters! After messing around for a bit, I figured out that we had to twist the ends of the canister to open it. We did so, and voila! Our order was finally ready to be eaten. The food was very clearly marked and labelled, which was great, as we had ordered two types of burgers, and they both look similar at an initial glance. The edamame burgers were some of the best I have ever eaten. The size of the burgers was not very big, but three small burgers with some fries and a smoothie would definitely fill you up.
Overall, this place is an absolute must if you are in Christchurch. Even if you are not fond of eating burgers or trying out some coffee, just go there for the quirky experience. We would have loved to visit this cafe again, not for the pneumatic high tech stuff, but for the food. We would have loved to try their coffee, the breakfast items, and their desserts. Too bad we did not have enough days in Christchurch to be able to come back. But if we do visit Christchurch again, we would definitely hit up C1 Espresso.
(cover page of the menu showing the pneumatic pipes)
(pneumatic pipe in which our food ‘canister’ arrived)
(chocolate mango smoothie)
(our order in a clearly labelled canister)
(edamame and black bean burgers)
(these small burgers are called sliders)