Salvatore Malatesta — now the proud husband to wife Joanne — is best known for being a pioneer of coffee in Australia. As the owner of the ST. ALi Family, Melbourne’s front-running specialty coffee conglomerate, it is difficult to escape that mould. From the stand-alone café, Malatesta grew ST. ALi into a roastery, an education centre, an online store and another branch of retail under Sensory Lab. As specialty coffee was gaining traction amongst the believers, the late adopters were looking for a way to access the third wave movement, so Malatesta launched Plantation, a group of cafes determined to make specialty coffee accessible to the wider market.

Malatesta has not always been synonymous with coffee, with a background littered with professions from pizza maker, fashion designer, public speaker, consultant, and lawyer – a reflection of his entrepreneurial nature.

While studying Law in Melbourne University in 1996, Malatesta noticed a lack of good coffee on campus, and his first café, Caffeine, was born out of individual desire and the ability to identify a gap in a very large market. Years later, Malatesta is seen making a return to university with The Church of Secular Coffee; a café and function space at Monash University’s Clayton campus to cater for students and faculty alike.

A judge in world-recognised coffee competitions, Malatesta has brought ST. ALi to the world arena. In 2009 St Ali launched in London, and in 2014-15 St Ali has toured the world with pop-ups and masterclasses in Seoul, Milan, Jakarta, and London.

Apart from being a tastemaker and a businessman, Malatesta is widely known for his continuous charitable contributions to social enterprises such as the non-for-profit café Feast of Merit, and donor to The Castan Centre for Human Rights Law In recognising the existential absurdity of his path, Malatesta’s final words are always…

“I am grateful. I am thankful.”