ST. ALi // Specialty Coffee

Sal, Toshi and Bruce’s coffee tour

Posted in ST ALi. // Latest news by mattjohn on October 7, 2009

Pictures up shortly…


Hario – we met up with Ryohei Uno from Hario ( and we had the opportunity to check out full range of Hario products at Isetan department store…love Japanese department stores…mad food selection.  We also came across a novel idea from Jose Kawashima who bottles “grand cru” single estate coffees in champagne bottles.  A little whacky (and not sure it works) but demonstrates a commitment and reverence for quality.  We were then lucky enough to be guests of Uno san for dinner where we gorged ourselves on sushi and an entire range of Japanese beers.

Horiguchi Coffee – Mr H showed us tremendous hospitality.  We drank some Panama Esmeralda Gesha by way of filter and Mr H gave us some samples and his world class coffee book to take away with us.  More importantly, Mr H sources (arguably) some of the best green around and we will be piggy backing on these sources to deliver you some amazing single estates very shortly.  His coffee buying group, aptly called the Coffee Lovers Family, sources specialty coffee for 90 micro roasters in Japan and it is a true honour to access some of these rare micro-lot coffees.

Bear Pond Espresso –  This is situated in the Soho of NYC, Flinders Lane Melbourne or Convent Garden London equivalent, surrounded by funky fringe designer stores.  Driving La Mazorcca FB 80, beans roasted for Bear Pond, only a truly amazing coffee experience with the sense of being in an international setting with Japanese quirks.

Paul Basset – Located in a not so cool shopping centre in Shinjuku serving great coffee with very committed baristas, with a special mention to Kenji Kojima and Emieko for caffeinating us every morning.  We hope to host these guys at St Ali shortly.  Who knows, maybe some guest baristaring.

Limo Driver – Michio Oi +81 (0) 90 9952 1568.  Knowledgeable and universal taxi guy.  Needs a special mention.

Hatea Tea – not our thing but interesting.  Teas through an espresso machine…mmm

Taichi Sushi – Will make the last meal before dying list…nine seats, four staff, first floor of apartment building slightly smaller than my bedroom, with no signage.  Thanks to Toshi for this one…unbelievable!!!

Funky Ramen place – [get the name off Toshi].  If St Ali did ramen this would be how we would do it.  The skinny jeans crew having fun serving fuck-off ramen whilst listening to Miles Davis in a non-traditional setting.

School girls – um…well you know the drill.

Le Labo – originally from Paris/New York but a bespoke industrial perfumery.  Patrick Suskind (for the less literate – author of Perfume born in Amback in 1949) would have been proud.  These guys are doing perfume the way we are doing coffee.


Tim Varney – is my newest personal hero.  A true gentleman whom showed us unlimited hospitality and was one funny fucker to hang with.  His only drawback was the order of the beers over dinner.  We should have the beer blanc first!!!  And, rightfully so, he thinks the title Director of Education is just shite so from this day forward Tom Beaumont will have the title of Sensei.  Seriously, Tim knows his coffee like an Angel knows his Harley.  And his passionate commitment to specialty coffee should be the yardstick for all of us.  We love you man!!!  Mr V showed us S&H, Mocca, Java and the roastery of Kaffee (which was the most pleasant and aestaticlaly beautiful roasting space we stumbled on).  We also were lucky to bump into Franciso Mena (Costa Rica exclusive coffee).

Tim Wendelboe –  This guys deserves his reputation and his titles.  This was probably one of the highlight coffee experiences we had on the trip.  Loved the store.  Tim also hosted us for a cupping session and his coffee shone through as little cups of joy for coffee cognoscenti.  Stockfieth’s (that Tim W also made what it is today) is a great spot for coffee, people watching and general time out.  Tim W coffee will be guest featured at St Ali soon.

Oslo City – we stayed at the Grand.  Centrally located.  Sort of Grand but near to the only lively drinking hole on a Monday night – you wouldn’t believe – the Hard Rock.  Thank sweet Jesus for Oslo’s reputation for good coffee.  A special thanks to Benter from the Grand who pointed us into the right direction a number of times.

Hotel Havana – after caffeinating and walking 20kms plus a day, we were replenished by the guys at Hotel Havana and their particularly tasty shrimp baguette.

Cross Country Skiing – Beware of off-season cross country skiing enthusiasts training up and down the hilly country sides.  You will be run over by them.

Driving – do not drive with Tim Varney if you have a heart condition or don’t like rides.  Be sure to be prepared for Oscar award method acting when pulled over by the police.  Please check out Tim’s site at


Giesen (ULFT) – when visiting Wilfred from Giesen and driving from Dusseldorf, remember that they are in the Netherlands and not in Germany.  So the car navigation is not a piece of shit that doesn’t work, we are retards who have no fucking idea about geography.  Wilfred and Marc were awesome hosts.  Heaps of fried fish and beer and a real pleasure to see these guys restore beautiful old Probats as if they were new!!!

Probat – Daniel Schmidt.  Daniel is German born, educated in the US and so put up with and gave back heaps of stick, showed us a great time (as good as one can be had in rural Germany) and demonstrated to us Probat’s commitment in moving forward with AAA grade roasters.  We were suitably impressed and had a little play as well.  These guys have listened to feedback and picked up their game.  Watch this space.

The castle – Park Hotel Wasserburg,  Please check out this web sites for a laugh.  It has a moat, ghosts, a full size garden maze, members of the far, far, far right (Bruce thought so), and a strictly no parking anywhere near the fucking hotel policy.

BELGIUM (Dendermonde)

Schuilenburg – Who in their right mind drives four hours to visit another Probat restorer.  We do!!! Jan Adriaens was a gentleman and polished individual who knows his shit even if he struggles with the pronunciation of some Australian cities.  He wins the prize for best coffee served at a roaster manufacturer.  Indeed the best coffee we had in this area.   Also, you have got to stop at the only diner in town and have a roll that someone else who was a local and gorgeous ordered without knowing what it is that you ordered until you receive fried sausages in a baguette with heaps of mayo and shit.  It was nice going in but is taking weeks going out.


Quick stop over for a night off.  Our most memorable experience has been burnt into my most deepest memory which was Toshi’s static expression despite witnessing what one might describe as bordering on extreme debauchery.  I guess, coffee porn is the only outlet for Toshitron.  What happens on tour…

Dinner – vegie joint called something like Cafe Boholt.  No dead animals or animal products here.  We welcomed the green leaves and beans after days of sausage and fried shit.  Tangent point I know, but it made me regular again.


Monmouth – Anita Le Roy.  Scott.  Covent Garden, Matlby St Roastery, Borough Market.  I cleared customs in 10 seconds holding a red passport.  Bruce and Toshi took 90 minutes.   Bruce is now going to get his documents translated into Polish (in joke).  We got picked up in a swanky old school RR by Cyril and Dorothy who dropped us off at the beautiful Convent Garden Hotel in Monmouth St.  It was here we met Scott.  Appointed tour guide at our behest, he showed us the various hoods and hooked us up with the right people on the right corners (Wire reference for those who don’t watch it!!!).  Monmouth coffee was awesome and given that it was pumped out on a two group linea it was a remarkable performance to watch.  Borough Market was unbelievable busy and Anita was kind enough to show us around and disperse her immense wisdom in a transparent fashion confirming her position globally as a bastion for the specialty coffee sector.  And the roastery was a delightful space and pimped with the right gear and work zones.  Monmouth’s coffee will be guest appearing at St ali soon.

Square Mile – James Hoffmann is a genius.   I was humbled in his presence.  I found his coffee knowledge to be dwarfing but his hospitality was top rate.  He shared his vision for the future and was open and transparent about all kinds of stuff.  We like this guy.  If we open in London we hope to be talking to him about all matters coffee related.  This dude supplies a lot of the good coffee spots in London.  The funniest insight was his eBay purchase.  Watch this space for a clover replacement!!!  Love the fridge magnet!!!  And finally, check out Ultimate Barista Fighting via the Square Mile blog.

Flat White/Milkbar – good coffee.  If you’re homesick, pay a visit.

Kaffeine – Peter is from Melbourne and very committed.  Watch this guy, he is a committed coffee geek.  We award him the unofficial coffee samuari award.  Use’s square mile Autumn blend.
Fernandez and Wells – Great produce (especially the jamon) and has a strong commitment to quality coffee.  Drives Synesso with two Mazzer R’s.

Fashion Weekend – just for fun.  OMG!!!

Yom Kipur – Seinfeld meets Golden Girls.  Did you know the best way to break the fast is with tea and honey cake?!  And, did you know not all old people want to see photos of your kids.  Thanks Kenny for re-instating faith in me that old people get off on more than grandkids. I was slightly concerned by your reaction to my magic trick.

Gwilym Davies at Present (  Super nice guy and of course current World Barista Champion.  Bases himself in a very cool clothes boutique called Present for no apparent reason that I can see, except that in his words “it works”.  We hope we can host Gwilym at St Ali very soon.  Pay him a visit, jump behind the counter and have a play on the Italian Job lever machine.  Coffee served with no noise…ahh, music to my ears or comfortable silence or whatever.

Neils Yard Dairy – love cheese.  Lacto intolerant but don’t give a fuck.  Good cheese is worth being sick for.

Bocca di Lupo – bragging rights here.  6 month wait list but we got in.  World class Italian nosh.

Mercanta – A cupping session akin to watching a performance by the Russian Ballet.  Top notch facilities and a range of coffees that excited every sensory potential in our very tired and sore bodies.  Flori is a true lady and championed her Latino hosting heritage in a way that even my mother would have been blow away. Mercanta keep it real.  Their story is their actual.  These guys are committed in delivering the specialty message worldwide and backing it with quality green.

Hongkong – Hutong.  Must visit restaurant.   Great for stopover to break a long flight.  Two best dishes were raw drunken crab in Chinese wine and the deboned lamb rib with crispy skin.

Airport Limo – Antony who drove us to the airport and who was organised by Flori wins the funniest fucker prize amusing us with a repertoire of jokes, stories and facts that kept us entertained all the way the to the airport and laughing for most of the trip home.  Antony would punctuate every sentence with words to the effect of when one gets too old, “it’s time to go” and as a tribute to him…”it’s time to go”.