What do you love about the coffee culture in Melbourne?
The best thing about coffee in Melbourne is that it has become so accessible. The days of a bad coffee in Melbourne are almost extinct. However, the true gems are still the ones that one might stumble upon and feel confident that you’ll walk away drinking a very decent brew or maybe even an awesome brew.
How would you describe Melbourne’s coffee culture?
World Class. Best in category. In fact, I truly believe Melbourne has led the world’s coffee renaissance.
Where do you find your coffee inspiration for St Ali?
St Ali is an extension of me. I endeavour to create an environment and culture which imbues my values and likes which are informed by travelling the globe. I want the Rolling Stones to come to St Ali for coffee if they were in Melbourne. Our coffee is delicious as our roasting and brewing method are fashion forward. We lead rather than follow. However, what makes St Ali special and magical is the intangible energy. You feel alive and happy when you walk through the doors. We have been fortunate enough to secure some key recruits in our team at St Ali. These are the young kids that live and breathe coffee. Truthfully, this is what inspires me, our team is constantly pushing boundaries and we really encourage that.
What are some of your favourite coffee spots in Melbourne and wider Victoria?
Well I do love supporting our customers because we love them and because they make delicious brew. In no particular order: 1. Tom Thumb, 2. Tall Timber, 3. Lakehouse / Wombat Hill Cafe, 4. Brae, 5. Wilson & Market 6. Pope Joan 7. Ascotvale Foodstore and 8. Abacus
How do you think coffee culture has evolved over time?
Australia’s coffee culture was largely inherited from European immigrants after WW2. Before that, well, it was almost non-existent. We respect the old but found ourselves wanting something more. We decided that the coffee plant deserved the same respect as vineyards. We wanted traceability and provenance, so we headed to coffee growing lands and became advocates of direct trades. We looked the farmers we bought coffee from in the eyes and promised them that we would be excellent custodians of their hard work.
My prediction is that the fourth wave is about to break.
What is the fourth wave of coffee?
Craft and passion will always underpin the coffee world however science is having a larger impact. The fourth wave will adopt some automation and consistency and speed will become important. The barista will be akin to a wine sommelier. She will have a deep knowledge of loads of coffees and will provide customers with the knowledge required to make informed choices about their brew.
How will you try to incorporate these new trends in your business?
Well, our R&D arm is via our company Barista Hustle led by coffee legend Matt Perger. Barista Hustle is a leading forum for all things super cool and new in coffee. Have a read, it’s awesome.
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