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AlterEgo: Espresso by Day, Martini by Night

Espresso Martini is normally the first thing that comes to mind when you think coffee and alcohol. AlterEgo – Canberra’s latest cafe – looks to challenge this notion, with their new dualistic premise that allows them to be cafe by day and bar by night.

Bringing Canberra’s two loves together, coffee and nightlife, the idea behind AlterEgo brings a freshness to a very cafe rich environment, while trying to challenge it as well.

I sat down with AlterEgo manager and barista, Patrick Egli, to discuss this new dualistic premise and how this innovation looks to grow and add to a thriving Canberran hospitality scene.

Patrick Egli is the acting manager at Canberra’s latest cafe – AlterEgo
Credit: Mathew Stramandinoli

Q: AlterEgo is arguably the first of its kind in Canberra, where does an idea like this come from?

A: It stems from our drive to be the best in Canberra. To offer both coffee during the day and coffee at night is something that we love to do. To be able to transition from a café to a bar has captured a lot of people.

A lot of people love the fact that something can be spilt into an AlterEgo of sorts and be so versatile. Whether it’s for a group of younger people coming for a couple of drinks at night or a family that just want to sit down for a pot of tea or coffee as well, so we can cater for everyone.

Q: Being the new kids on the block, and Canberra’s already extensive list of bars and cafes out there, was there any doubt to whether AlterEgo and its idea would succeed?

A: There is always a bit of a risk you take when opening up a new business. Not a lot of people like to change their Café or where they are loyal too. I think for the first couple of weeks it was a challenge to try and get those regular customers coming back. Although, with our weekend opening hours, live music and cafe service during the week I think we have covered the main points of coffee, alcohol and food.

Patrick Egli is inspired by the growing coffee scene in Canberra
Credit: Mathew Stramandinoli

Q: Canberra is very well known for being a coffee capital. With this new dualistic premise, do you think the idea will inspire more innovation in Canberra’s growing hospitality scene?

A: I hope so, I hope people see us as a bit of a challenge. We are definitely the first to do this [dualistic cafe and bar], so if people can look back at us and come up with an idea of their own that inspires something awesome in Canberra then why not? We are all for hospitality growth throughout Canberra and I think we are getting that now and its really nice to be apart of that. I hope we do really inspire other people, whether it’s a bit of a challenge to us or a bit of a challenge for them, I don’t really mind. I think hospitality is just going to grow and grow and to be apart of that is unreal.

Q: Obviously you don’t run a café if you don’t love coffee, how inspiring is to see fellow Canberrans like Ona Coffee’s Matthew Lewin winning number 1 Barista in Australia at National Championships earlier this year?

A: Mat and I are actually pretty good mates which is nice, he does a lot of our trainings and helps a lot with all our sales and looks after the new innovation side of things. For him to win that and hopefully go onto worlds [World Barrista Championships] and win there is absolutely inspiring. Its nice to know him on a bit more of a personal level and its great to see people succeed in hospitality. To have him apart of our team and helping us out has been unreal and the fact the he inspire some competition is great.

Q: Do you think something like this puts Canberra on the map now?

A: Absolutely, we want to be a place that people can [be] from out of town, whether you’re from the country or from a big city and just to be like “we have been there.” Whether that’s a place like ONA in Manuka or AlterEgo where they can sit down and have a coffee and enjoy a beautiful menu is something that is awesome and we aspire too, and we would be pretty happy with that.

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