Go north, coffee pedallers

St Ali staffers include (from left to right) Jamie Thomson, Matt Perger, Chris Hamburger, Salvatore Malatesta and Jesse ...
St Ali staffers include (from left to right) Jamie Thomson, Matt Perger, Chris Hamburger, Salvatore Malatesta and Jesse Gerner. Photo: Supplied

CAFFEINE-fuelled Salvatore Malatesta usually knows which buttons to press. And to win over the modern bohemians of our inner north, he has pressed four big ones: coffee, bikes, a killer location and cool food. Malatesta's St Ali North at 815 Nicholson Street — the sister establishment to his South Melbourne coffee shrine in Yarra Place — is set to open in early December, and already looks like a winner. First, coffee: delivery of the hallowed beverage will be masterminded by champion barista Matt Perger, with Three Bags Full's Jamie Thomson as head barista and a team cherry-picked from the hot spots. The cafe's general manager, for example, is Adam del Maestro from Auction Rooms. Second, bikes: St Ali North is a virtual extension of the heavily graffitied Velo, a serious bike shop, and is positioned, on Crown land, on Melbourne's busy Capital City Bike Trail, and has a special ride-through window for cyclists. There will be free air at the cafe, and a roving bike mechanic to make spot repairs. Third, location: the 140-seat venue occupies space on the Carlton North-Brunswick East-Fitzroy North borders in a spot described by Malatesta's publicists, not unreasonably, as "the epicentre of hip". And fourth, food: the kitchen is huge, and in overall control is Jesse Gerner (Anada, The Aylesbury), who is also a partner in the business. The head chef is Chris Hamburger. Expect house-made pastries and house-cured bacon. There is a further ingenious facility: coffee nerds can arrange to have their beans of choice left for collection after hours in private mailboxes. "This is the dream space for me to launch the second-only St Ali," Malatesta says.