Known in some parts of the world as a marimba or mbira, the African thumb piano, or kalimba, turns vibrations into beautiful, melodic music. In suburban Northcote, friendly newcomer Cafe Kalimba is humming along to its own sweet melody, and generating plenty of good vibes in the process.
Housed in a small corner site at the base of a new residential development a stone's throw from the Northcote pool, Kalimba combines Creole culinary influences, a deep connection with music, and a whole lot of soul.
It's the latest passion project for musician and coffee aficionado N'fa Jones (of hip-hop group 1200 Techniques) and his French-born pianist partner Alice Gobet.
The all-day brunch menu is peppered with cleverly executed nods to the couple's shared Creole heritage – Jones' father is Sierra Leone Creole, while Gobet's family hails from the French Caribbean island of Martinique.
Popular picks include a smoky gumbo with andouille sausage made to Jones' family recipe, "red eggs" (poached eggs atop a pair of deliciously herby, savoury buckwheat waffles served with rich tomato concasse), and "cochon dingue", a 12-hour pulled pork slider where slider buns make way for those awesome green savoury waffles. The dish was the result of a "What if?" moment for Jones, and he reckons it's a must-try: "It's delicious and ridiculous all at once."
On the coffee front you'll find locally roasted Rumble beans being put to good use, plus organic fruit smoothies and a selection of Choukette pastries.
Open Mon-Fri 7am-4pm; Sat 8.30am-4pm.
Shop 8, 57 Victoria Road, Northcote, cafekalimba.com