No matter how Kiwi Ali Yildiz gets, he'll always drink his coffee black, the Turkish way.
The cafe, tapas bar and nightclub owner has been in New Zealand for 18 years after immigrating from Istanbul with his wife Zulha.
The couple arrived speaking very little English and with no idea they would end up with a hospitality empire less than 10 years later.
"I didn't even know how to make a fried egg," Ali laughs.
"But everyone has to start from somewhere and for me I washed dishes in my cousin's restaurant and I was in the kitchen so I began to learn to cook and then make coffees."
And when a prime location cafe became available in sleepy Takapuna, Ali took a chance and opened Mecca cafe with his cousin.
Three years later the pair went their separate ways and in 2000 Mecca became Massimo and Ali and Zulha's first "baby" started taking off.
"The cafe culture and coffee culture was just coming up in Auckland and we worked hard, roasting our own coffee and making good food," he says.
It's easy to see how a couple from Turkey would have a knack for hospitality - gathering people together over food is in their genes.
"It's a family tradition, whether we love each other or hate each other we still get together around a big table for breakfast or dinner once a week," says Ali.
And with his brother and sister, cousins, in-laws and friends all now living in Auckland, it's not hard to get a taste of home.
But six years of tireless work and long hours setting up their cafe business and expanding to Newmarket and Albany had left the couple with little time for socialising.
"Once we were settled we knew it was time to get out and become involved with more New Zealanders," Ali says.
"I did not come to this country to be rich or to escape anything, I came here for the Kiwi culture, for the manners and friendly nature of the people and the lifestyle."
And in the way he knows best Ali took on the world of nightclubs - buying Spy Bar in the Viaduct. Despite the late nights Ali's Turkish sensibilities keep him grounded in the the party culture.
"For us being drunk is a shame thing, we drink socially to come together," he says.
"I have never had any regrets about having a nightclub, it's a great family there and we try and keep the focus on socialising, not on alcohol."
And now that he's the proud father to daughters Ela, 6 , and Ayla, 3 , he and Zulha feel more and more like New Zealanders.
"A lot of Kiwi humour comes from growing up here and I'm finally getting it through my children.
"The girls are, of course, Kiwi. I do not want them to forget our Turkish background but the purpose of coming here is to become a Kiwi."
Zulha stepped back from the day-to-day running of the cafes after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, towards the end of her second pregnancy, but Ali says she is still his "right-hand woman".
The couple say they never really stop working and are always taking stock of other cafes when travelling and out and about thinking how they can improve their business.
"Success is down to hard work," says Ali
- © Fairfax NZ News