My Favourite Table: Suzanne Tamaki

ARTY: Suzanne Tamaki likes the art at Black Coffee.
ARTY: Suzanne Tamaki likes the art at Black Coffee.

Black Coffee

133 Riddiford St, Newtown, Wellington.

Phone: 022 0887 232.

Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 7am-4pm; Saturday, 8am-4pm; Sunday closed.

Black Coffee opened very recently in Newtown. It's not just coffee, it's an art gallery as well and you get a lot of artists going in there. I think the gallery was set up first and the coffee came after. I went to the opening event they had. I met the Black Coffee crew through one of their artists, Xoe Hall, who does those massive murals round town, bright and colourful. She's amazing. She's the girlfriend of the owner, Johnny.

For Black Coffee's first show they had 20 artists, all Wellington or ex-Wellington. What I love is you sit there and look at loads of art. As far as I know the art is going to keep changing so every month there'll be something new.

Black Coffee is quite quirky, and quite intimate. There's a pinball machine in the middle and you get a few boys in there hard-out competing, trying to beat each other. There are a few little tables inside and a couple of chairs and tables outside. Inside it has white walls and black wooden tables like wooden cut- outs, almost sculptural. They're probably made in Wellington.

Quite an alternative crowd goes there, loads of performers and artists. It's round the corner from where I live and I go to the fruit and vegetable market at Newtown School on a Saturday and then I to Black Coffee, which is a good place to catch up. That's become my Saturday thing, my routine, which I really like, sitting down there and relaxing. It's a good spot to be with lots of foot traffic and friends going by. I catch up with musos and artists and I get quite a lot of business done there, for the council and myself.

I have a studio in Adelaide Rd and I make costumes and jewellery. The jewellery uses organic and found materials, wood, bone, shell, dog hair and, lately, false teeth - those pearly plastic teeth that come in packets, not used false teeth. I make them into hilarious necklaces. I used to work at Te Papa and saw necklaces from the Solomon Islands made from false teeth that were absolutely intriguing. It's possible I'll exhibit eventually at Black Coffee. I have work at Kura Gallery, Real Aotearoa and the Te Papa Store. Those are my Wellington stockists.

Black Coffee does great coffee. They know what I drink and almost as soon as I walk in the door they make it - a standard latte with two sugars. Johnny makes it. He's pretty much the owner-operator. It's only a little place. They have small things like biscuits and slices to have with coffee. Their peanut butter cups are about the size of a 50 cent piece and delicious.

For my council job I've just organised the Positively Pasifika festival which has been going about six years and attracts more than 10,000 people. In a little over a week we'll have the Waitangi Day Festival at the wharewaka on the waterfront. I'm really excited about that. Auckland band Herbs is going to perform and Troy Kingi, who was in the movie Mount Zion, is launching a new album. We've got two coaches from the Sevens, which starts on the seventh, making an appearance at lunchtime. We'll have Whale Rider outside at the end of the day and we hope hundreds of thousands come to that. We'll make room. There'll be lots of food as well, Maori food and Maori craft.

I do go to places other than Black Coffee and I'm a big going- out person but not usually to eat. I go to a bar to listen to music, to the Fringe Bar and also to S&M in Cuba St, Scotty and Mai's, a gay bar. Lots of drag queens and performers are there. The layout is very boudoir.

I'm not a big coffee drinker. I'm an instant coffee girl. I'm always on the run at work and I make an instant coffee, so getting a latte is a real treat for me, like a special occasion that you do for yourself. I probably prefer a cup of tea, anyway.

- As to Diana Dekker 

The Dominion Post