Neighbourly NOK

Neighbourly NOK

A sweet addition to Auckland’s Ponsonby, NOK café offers vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free baked treats as well as great coffee and vibes.

Words and photography Carolyn Enting

The sense of community is unmistakable upon entering NOK café, whether it’s through the welcoming street entrance or back door.

Physically connected to its mother brand, sustainable salon Kindred Human + Earth, NOK stands for ‘next of kin’, cleverly named by Cat Frost, owner of both.

The Douglas Street space was previously occupied by eatery Little & Friday, whose departure left a neighbourhood crying into its empty KeepCups. So when Frost took over the lease, she planned to reestablish a great coffee service for locals. 

Owner Cat Frost (right) with a NOK worker 

With Kindred she has succeeded in creating a tranquil haven for hair styling and treatments that are gentle on clients as well as the earth. NOK is an extension of those values “to make your day a little yummier and uplifting”.

Frost describes the interior as “not too loud, but cheeky and full of life”. The lush tropical wall screens were designed by Frost and printed onto adhesive film. 

NOK serves Allpress organic coffee with a variety of plant-based alternative milks. The café’s charismatic head barista Robin Wachsberger is a recent transplant from New York City, who left the world of podcasting and radio to move onto a houseboat in the City of Sails.

The menu is vegan and purposely filled with items that non-vegan customers can identify with. Hero items include a coconut cream retro doughnut from award- winning bakery Tart (just a few streets away) as well as savoury and sweet pastries. 

NOK collects its baked goods fresh from local bakers each day, which Frost sees as embracing the spirit of “contributing and connecting”, where bakers and contributors are considered part of the family. Liz Kwan of Muy Yum Treats drops in a selection of gluten-free, vegan and refined sugar-free delights daily that include a silky zucchini chocolate brownie and a meringue cookie.

NOK also offers Two Islands Co. collagen shots in your morning coffee for an added boost for skin and hair health, as well as herbal teas, spicy chai and matcha lattes, Karma Cola and kombucha.

Homely and relaxed, the space is there to make your own. There are knee rugs and doggie treats (animals and kids are encouraged) and you might even encounter a barista in an animal onesie. Future plans include ukulele sessions, a stitch and bitch, and artistic collaborations with Allpress gallery.

NOK 42 Douglas StreetPonsonby, Auckland. 7.30am–3.30 pm Tuesday–Saturday. On Sundays will be operating very soon.

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