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…