We're open: Salvatore Malatesta at the St Ali cafe, South Melbourne.
We're open: Salvatore Malatesta at the St Ali cafe, South Melbourne. Photo: Simon Schluter

Benjamin Preiss

Melbourne's voracious coffee addiction knows no public holidays, including Christmas Day.

This year several cafes will open to caffeinate the hordes who cannot do without their coffee fix.

The St Ali cafes in South Melbourne and Carlton North will operate their usual hours, from 7am to 6pm, with a full menu.

Owner Salvatore Malatesta said St Ali had opened on Christmas Day for about three years. It also was open every other day of the year.

Melburnians treated coffee with the seriousness of an Olympic sport, Mr Malatesta said - ''it's the anchor to everything''.

In Balaclava, Batch owner Jason Chan will open his cafe on Wednesday. He expects to sell 300 to 500 coffees from 7.30am to 1.30pm.

Malvern cafe Fergus will be serving coffee and cakes between 7am and 11am. Manager Ed Lachal expected a brisk trade. ''Chances are it will be pretty busy,'' he said. ''I guess it just shows how much Melburnians like their coffee.''

Restaurant and Catering Industry Association chief executive John Hart said penalty rates prevented more cafes opening on Christmas Day.

''The wage rate for a barista on Christmas Day will be hitting the $70-an-hour mark. That's a lot of coffees,'' he said. ''What happens for those that do open is the owners will generally work the hours on the public holidays so they can do the right things by customers who are their loyal regulars.''

The Elwood Food and Wine Bar will open again this year on Christmas Day. Manager Kylie Brooks said she sold about 350 coffees last year. ''We did pretty well considering it was just drinks and coffee.''

She said opening on Wednesday would allow her to look after the regulars, including cyclists who stop by early in the morning.