In Melbourne, coffee rools, as the Aussies would say. It’s discussed more heatedly than sports, politics and religion put together. Anyone dumb enough to proclaim a place as having the city’s best coffee will spark a riot or be garroted. And if you don’t know your Arabica from your robusta, or your cold drip from your left tit, heaven help you. Brace yourself though, as the quest for caffeine nirvana gets taken up another notch.
For years, cult joe joint St. Ali, hidden down a laneway in South Melbourne, was the only java deity worshipped by the coffeescenti. Then one of its founders upped and opened the teeny, if too cleverly named by half Brother Baba Budan in the city, bringing joy and salvation to suits in the morning with its own Seven Seeds roast.
Now a couple of St. Ali alumni are behind one of our favourite new discoveries, Dead Man Espresso [ed. Sheeesh, what’s with the names?]. Housed in an industrial-chic office block in an incongruous part of the inner city, where electrical supplies and car repair workshops sit alongside design studios, Dead Man is the epitome of hipster meets artisan. Timber shutters and concrete columns team with sliding glass doors and retro furniture, while painfully cool staff and patrons mingle with local workers, here for dynamite coffee and sinfully good breakfasts, which should come with a Surgeon General’s warning.
Thrillseekers should order the Seven Seeds blend, a miniscule shot of such toasted caramelly intensity it makes other ristrettos seem like a latte. It’s gone in one sip, but the taste lingers until lunchtime. And anyone who says pork belly is over also needs to order their version of the BLT. Thin slices of sticky, fatty, melt in your mouth pork belly topped with creamed spinach and sandwiched between two slices of buttery toasted brioche, with a shot glass of gazpacho on the side is sex on a plate and reason enough for us to kick Sam Worthington out of bed to get to. Our only gripe about the joint? Being asked “you right there?” by the owner when we went to order. No, we weren’t right at that stage, but it was a momentary glitch in a bright start to the day.
St. Ali ain’t done yet though, opening not one, but two new branches in its quest for world domination. There’s whizz bang trickery and glass tubes at the slick Sensory Lab in the heart of the city at David Jones department store, and the farmhouse grunge Outpost in South Yarra. You’re spoilt for choice, lucky kittens, just don’t ask for a soy or skinny decaf cap at any of the above.
St. Ali. 12-18 Yarra Place, South Melbourne. T: +61 3 9686 2990. W: stali.com.au
Brother Baba Budan. 359 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne. T: +61 3 9606 0449. W: brotherbababudan.com.au
Dead Man Espresso. 35 Market Street, South Melbourne. T: +61 3 9686 2255. W: deadmanespresso.com.au
Sensory Lab. 297 Little Collins St, Melbourne. T: +61 3 9643 2222. W: sensorylab.com.au
Outpost. 9 Yarra Street, South Yarra. T: +61 3 9827 8588. W: stali.com.au