Liar Liar:

90 Kinkora Rd, Hawthorn VIC
(03) 9818 8864

Salvatore Malatista has owned 72 venues and he’s only 36. How’d he do it? “You start when you’re 20, you have an appetite for risk, you don’t sleep and you trust and hire really talented people. You delegate a lot and cross your fingers.” venue has previously featured St Ali’s, Malatista’s benchmark specialty coffee café. His latest acquisition is Liar Liar, a café in Hawthorn, which also fits his ‘third-wave coffee guy’ title. For those that want to be ‘in the nose’, the first wave began with the Nescafé-style industrialisation of coffee, second wavers popularised espresso coffee, with darker roasts and blends, and third wavers are all about single states and the subtle characteristics of flavour in your coffee cup. It’s why Malatista begged and borrowed on the coffee black market to source Clover coffee-making machines to fit out his cafes. The Clover is a device created by a couple of Stanford engineers and there are only 200 in operation in the world after Starbucks bought the design. It takes the best parts of a French press and a siphon system, combines them with stainless steel, digital dials that can set every temperature, time, and litreage to make the perfect cup, and an IP address for sharing your latest single state ‘best settings’ with fellow coffee nerds. The final aromatic coffee is dispensed into a brandy glass, a nod to Malatista’s intent to rival wine as an experience rather than a commodity: “Coffee for too long has been traded and treated like a commodity, second only to oil. You might say commodities are good, but best left to the guys who buy coffee by the container loads. We want to treat coffee as an agricultural product as opposed to a commodity,” explained Malatista. He’s all about the education process, recently inviting Paul Wilson to create a food and coffee degustation match, and employing a full-time Director of Eduction, so that anyone who works as part of St Ali’s has access to a library of resources. He also hired a full- time green bean direct buyer who spends nine months of the year sourcing beans, and supplies only his own cafés, so other people don’t screw up the taste, and the brand. “The only way we can develop the specialty coffee market is by educating our people, then educating the end user. In the same way that Apple owns the ‘touch’ space with iPods and iPhones, we’d like to dominate the ‘coffee learn’ space. With things like the Clover we might only do 20 or 30 sales a day, but they’re really instrumental in helping people understand that coffee isn’t just beans, burnt and put together in an espresso machine.” Going even further, at the end of October, he plans to launch ‘Sensory lab by St Ali’s’ on Little Bourke Street, a place where Malatista and Co. can flaunt their coffee knowledge dressed in white labcoats, and take visitors through the various nuances of the Clover, siphon bar, vacuum pot, French press, Slayer espresso, espresso, and every other pouring method possible. “It will be completely like a cellar door experience. There will be people in white lab coats and ties and they’ll be coffee consultants. You’ll sit with them and ask them any question about coffee from origin tour trips down to brewing methods for coffee. It will be an end user education platform,” said Malatista. “Probably, commercially, it isn’t a very wise decision in the short-term because it’s expensive to do all this stuff and no-one really appreciates it except coffee geeks and passionate people but I reckon we’ll chip away at that market slowly. In the same way that fewer and fewer people drink instant coffee now because of the second wave guys, the third wave guys are chipping away at the second wave guys in the espresso market.” [Photo: Diana Snape]

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