St Ali

I’ll Tumble for Ya

Words by Jane Ormond
Pictures by Guy Lavoipierre

If you live in Melbourne and have had a cup of coffee, seen a cup of coffee or stood next to someone holding a cup of coffee, you will have heard of St Ali. It is a major coffee temple. And rightfully so. Because it makes the kind of coffee that makes you want to run a bath full of the stuff and just get in and splash and kick around in a fit of caffeinated glee. Pop on a shower cap made from a coffee filter and you are good to go.

Every day the menu features a different cold drip filter, syphon and coffee of the day. I had the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe syphon – one of the juiciest I’ve ever had. Floral, fruity, succulent. Hence my point about the bath.

St Ali roast their own beans – they’ve got a 5kg roaster onsite, and three 22kg roasters working their magic under the master’s watchful eye just nearby. St Ali also stocks take-home packs and all the associated accoutrements you might need.

The place itself ticks all the de rigeur boxes – a lo-fi industrial fit-out, situated down an alley opposite graffiti-covered rollerdoors. The Shins are on the stereo and the waitstaff are spunky. It’s like the movie version of the Melbourne coffee scene. The space is segmented really smartly though, so what could feel cold and hard actually can be quite intimate. Windows open onto the lane, framing folks so perfectly you can almost hear someone yell ‘Action!’

Menu-wise, the offerings are fittingly snappy, coming under cute subheadings like ‘From Chickens with Love’, ‘Kitchen Confidential’ and ‘Cos I’m Worth It’ (this is where you’ll find lobster tail or smoked salmon with optional caviar and champagne add-ons.) Whatever appetite you’ve got, you’ll find something to suit, from a light fruit breakfast to corn fritters with haloumi for brunch or a simple pizza or twice-cooked pork belly for lunch. The Asian-leaning dinner menu is similarly cute in its categorising of ‘two legs’, ‘four legs’ and ‘sea legs’. Sweets are courtesy of Philippa Sibley. They also offer a range of barista courses and food events, so keep the peepers peeled.

I took a long black for the road – Nicaraguan. Still very fruity, but punchier than the Ethiopian. Dabbed a little behind my ears. Just cos.

Words by Jan Ormond
Pictures by Guy Lavoipierre
Originally published 1 December, 2010

St Ali
12-18 Yarra Place
South Melbourne, Victoria 3205
T. 03 9686 2990

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