Beloved Eden Terrace cafe Coffee Pen has a cult following. Tucked away down Basque Road, this hidden gem has been a firm favourite since owners Yasuji and Fumi Hisai opened it in 2016 after moving to Auckland from Sydney. The pair spend their days providing customers with delicious house-baked sweet treats, hot lunch specials and topnotch coffee, and Coffee Pen is occasionally the site of community market events, bringing a throng of visitors from around the city. Stepping out from behind the counter for a moment, Yas gives us some insight into the duo’s interests.
The last thing we bought and loved was:
Yasuji: A car last year – a Toyota Blizzard 1988.
An unforgettable place we visited was: Kaitaia. If we have the day off we speed up there to go fishing.
The design (building, person, item) that inspires us is: Composer Steve Reich, artist and landscape architect Isamu Noguchi, Onta Ware ceramics and musician Shintaro Sakamoto.
Fumi: I also love photographer Yurie Nagashima.
Next place we’d like to go to: Germany to see the arts, music and buildings.
An object we would never part with is:
Yasuji: Technics turntables (SL-1200MK3D) and Vestax mixer (PMD-06 ProA). I got them when I was a teenager in 1996, and that’s when I started collecting records and CDs.
On our wish list is: A Kayak!
An indulgence we would never forgo is: Fishing in Kaitaia.
In our fridge you’ll always find: Beer.
Our favourite room in our house is: Not actually inside, it’s outside on the balcony. It’s not huge but we have a beautiful Auckland view.
The last meal out we had that truly impressed me was: At Apero. We had roasted savoy cabbage, parmesan & walnuts, and roasted cauliflower with goat’s curd, almond and mint.
We recently discovered: Yasuji: I love walking. I hated it before – even walking five minutes, but after lockdown I’m now happy to do 3 hours.
Our favourite website is: nepenthesny.com – a Japanese clothing brand.
The one artist whose work we would collect is (if price is not an issue): Tomoo Gokita, Henrietta Harris, Emma McIntyre.
The best gift we ever received was:
Yasuji: A B&W Zeppelin speaker. My old friends gifted it to Coffee Pen when we opened.
The best book we read in the last year is: Subsequence, a semi-annual publication with features on arts, craftsmanship and culture. Kennedy Magazine, a biannual journal based in Athens, Greece. Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World–and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling.
Favourite music we’ve recently been listening to: Jeff Parker’s album Suite for Max Brown.
If we weren’t doing what we are, we would be:
Yasuji: I think it would be the same as now.
We have a collection of: Records and art books.
Top three favourite records in our collection: Its too hard to choose though…
1. Steve Riche Music for 18 musicians live 1978 ECM records (minimal contemporary music)
2. Head Nordic Tuesday 2002 from Insiduous urban records. (Jazz, Hip hop)
3. Tide & Ticked Trio Observing Systems 2003 from Morr Music (German electronica/dub/jazz)