For Alice Zaslavsky, the joys of specialty coffee are associated with a strong sense of nostalgia and community. From sentimental memories shared over a freshly brewed cup to fond memories where the wider coffee community have shared their expert knowledge, coffee is much more than the fuel behind her day-to-day activity.
When reflecting on moments where coffee contributed to a sensory overload, Alice is immediately drawn to the memory of her pregnancy with daughter, Hazel. With her sense of smell heightened, Alice was captivated by the layers and complexity of each morning cup, a curiosity which Hazel has funnily enough adopted and still carries today.
Today, making coffee at home is very family oriented at the Zaslavsky household. Between Alice and her husband, Nick making their morning espresso, Hazel is eager to contribute by grinding beans with a hand grinder and ensuring she gets a whiff of the final cup, absorbing the different layers of the aroma.
“[Hazel] absorbed the smell of coffee through my pores. Whenever I now drink coffee, she wants to have a smell”
Sharing plenty of common interests with her husband, Nick, enjoying specialty coffee is a passion that they still explore today. From their early days of dating, the pair would enjoy a weekly ritual of venturing to Queen Vic Markets to purchase local produce before winding down over a coffee from Market Lane. Holding this tradition dear for the entirety of their time living in Melbourne, it only made sense to incorporate their ritual of exploring and enjoying quality produce into their wedding photoshoot.
Dressed in their wedding attire, the two made a point to stop by Queen Vic Market with their wedding photographer to relive their tradition, celebrate their love for food and even stop by Market Lane for their coffee tradition dressed to the nines.
“When we first started dating, we would head to Queen Vic market and stop by Market Lane for a coffee. As part of our wedding shoot, it only made sense to do the same thing in our finest.”
Led by her sense of curiosity, Alice shares that the warm and open nature of the coffee community led her to have such rich experiences. While identifying that Australian coffee culture has a strong identity of sharing moments over coffee, Alice’s excitement lies in the fact that there is a stronger sense of sharing knowledge within the coffee community, leading to endless conversations where one can learn about the farming, production, and brewing methods of their favourite cup.
Describing the community as a ‘passionate hive’, Alice’s understanding of various coffee varieties and the overarching bean to cup process was made possible by the close relationship she formed with her local barista. By simply asking questions about the type of coffee beans the café was using, Alice unearthed a relationship that would shape her understanding of the industry.
For those who may be hesitant about approaching their barista, the digital world has carried these open conversations on to forums, social media groups and even the pages of roasters and cafes, inviting the broader community to jump in and contribute to the conversation.
“There’s nothing like being involved in the hive of a community and feeding off each other.”
While coffee culture today is commonly associated with enjoying your coffee of choice on the go, Alice stresses the importance of not taking coffee and the ritual behind it for granted and using the time as an opportunity to connect with others or more importantly, yourself.
“The process of making a coffee and taking the time to enjoy it forces you to slow down and appreciate being in a meditative state.”
As lockdowns become a thing of the past, Alice reminds us that coffee has the power to play as the perfect icebreaker when meeting someone new or act as an excuse to lock eyes with our nearest and dearest once again, whether it be in the comfort of our own kitchens or amongst the city’s bustling coffee scene.