Melbourne is a city that has long embraced culinary pop-ups, enticing people to stand in line for hours just to get a little taste of whatever may await (such as the very popular Flour Market). In recent years, the specialty coffee world has taken a few tips from the food industry, with spaces like Hortus x Seven Seeds popping up, and now two separate pop-up ventures from the St ALi Family.
St ALi have been going a bit pop-up crazy this past year, with ventures in Korea, London, Milan, and Sydney—and that’s just the beginning. Matt Perger, consigliere of coffee at St ALi, is quick to assure us. “We’re keen to pop up quite literally anywhere,” he says.
First up in the St ALi pop-ups of Melbourne is the Church of Secular Coffee, in the Rue & Co dining installation located in the northern end of Collins St, at Exhibition St in Melbourne’s CBD. (The spot opened on the 2nd of May and will be in place for at least six months.) In a strip laid with faux grass and a lovely backdrop painted solo by phenomenal mural artist RONE, the Church of Secular Coffee is serving all the usual coffee offerings through their La Marzocco Linea, alongside bottled iced coffees & soft drinks, as well as an interesting array of food through their surprisingly well-equipped kitchen (in quite a confined space, no less).
There’s a dedicated toast menu, offering bready delights from a range of great bakeries around Melbourne (Cobb Lane, Candied Bakery, Zeally Bay, Dr Marty’s, Dench, Five & Dime), topped with creations like peanut butter & banana chips, or smoked salmon & Pepe Saya crème fraiche. There’s also a pretty epic burger menu, with inventive creations such as the Wool Tang Clan (lamb merguez & harrisa mayonnaise) or the Seoul Searching (kimchi & shrimp with spicy mayonnaise).
If bready delights aren’t your bag, you also have the option of getting your caffeine fix from the Church, then moving on to either (or both) of their prolific food neighbours—Jimmy Grant’s (home of delicious souvlakis with hot chips in them), or Kong BBQ (Japanese-Korean creations like beef & kimchi stew from the creators of Chin Chin.)
The second of St ALi’s pop-ups is Clement Coffee at À Bloc in Prahran, a venue that’s hybrid bicycle store, gallery, and café. Large and light, À Bloc is filled with beautiful bikes such as those by the stylish TokyoBike brand, and stunning tables and stools by local workshop Arteveneta.
Headed up by the accomplished M’Lissa Muckerman, Clement has brought in their signature coffee blends, an array of sweets from Matt Forbes, Windsor Deli, and Mörk Chocolate. Opened on the 26th of May, and in place for 12 weeks, this is a beautiful space with a significantly more relaxed atmosphere than Clement’s South Melbourne store—it’s a great representation of the brand and a lovely spot to enjoy it in.
Also, on top of their quest for world pop-up domination, the St ALi Family has launched an internal disloyalty card—called the Kenyan Safari—as part of their Kenya-themed month of June (wherein they serve only delicious Kenyan coffees that they’ve sourced). It’s something of a find-and-seek coffee adventure, wherein you taste all the flavours of the Kenyan rainbow by visiting each of St Ali’s seven different venues in Melbourne–word on the street is that if you complete the adventure then there’s a sweet prize to be had.