Renowned coffee destination St Ali has been caffeinating Melburnians for more than a decade. Now, pioneering owner Salvatore Malatesta, who brought us (now-closed St Ali North, specialty-grade coffee pods, and instant coffee blends), has opened another outpost at Melbourne Airport’s international departure lounge.

The new spot will be open from 5am until 1am, a pit stop serving much-needed speciality brews, espresso-spiked cocktails and brunch fare to travellers jetting to and from Melbourne.

The space, fitted out by architecture firm Jackson Clements Burrows, features wood panelling, brass, marble and exposed beams. Graphic posters plastered on one wall are by Richard Ellis (St Ali’s in-house creative director), and a bespoke six-piece canvas was painted by Melbourne artist Darren Wardle, a nod to the laneway home of St Ali’s South Melbourne headquarters.

The cafe faces out onto the tarmac, so you can watch flights take off just metres away. “If you look towards the coffee machine it feels like you’re in South Melbourne, and when you look out the window you see a plane,” Malatesta says.

The food borrows from the original St Ali menu, but is tailored to what the team can produce in an airport setting. “Getting deliveries [here] isn’t the same as getting deliveries on a high street,” says Malatesta. “You can’t run out of milk and go get it, because [it’s] got to go through security.”

My Mexican Cousin, a dish of corn fritters with poached eggs, haloumi and kasundi (tomato relish) well-known in South Melbourne, has been reimagined here as a savoury muffin. Other dishes include a golden-syrup-soaked brioche French toast and a playful deconstructed cheeseburger salad with pickles, American cheese and Thousand Island dressing. Lighter is a salad of poached chicken with Vietnamese mint, brown rice and greens.

To drink, there’ll be St Ali single origin espresso and signature coffees such as the Redeye (a jolting combination of espresso and filter) and the Melbourne Only (espresso with cold milk, panela sugar, whipped cream and raspberry).

There are souvenirs, too, in the form of St Ali apparel and coffee travel packs.

St Ali Melbourne Airport
Terminal 2, Melbourne Airport

Mon to Sun 5am–1am