Coffee wars – The Artful Dodger Coffee Company

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On tracks to win with station side eating and coffee houses

The Artful Dodger Coffee Trading Company began with a small building that stood alone on a busy street corner, opposite the Elsternwick  Railway Station, facing a stream of daily travelers spilling in and out of trams and trains on Glenhuntly Road Elsternwick. So commenced owner and pioneer Daniel Zalcberg’s quest for unique locations for his planned Coffee production company and its retail Coffee Houses and Café outlets. Establishing them on main roads and near public transport hubs (particularly near railway stations) appealed to him and as it turns out has proven highly successful.

The inimitable logo of the Fat Man emanated from the name that came from Daniel’s research of famous authors and classic stories. Wanting to give this quirky ‘fat man’ character a fun two-worded name; Oliver Twist sprung up and with it the Artful Dodger – the boy who took the orphan Oliver under his wing and taught him how to pick pocket on a street corner. This coincided perfectly with the story of the Fat Man that took over the stand alone corner shop and transformed it into a café that pockets your change and in return provides abundant quality produce delivered with warmth and rewarded by the return of customers.

The Artful Dodger opened its doors on January 21st, 2010, and will celebrate its third birthday next week, but since then the Fat Man has been on the move. Besides being an extremely popular eating spot and coffee house, it is also the head office for the Artful Dodger coffee distribution. The Artful Dodger Coffee Trading Company started to roast its own blend of estate-grown beans to supply the three cafes in September of 2012 and has now expanded to supply other retail customers. The blend was named Penny Box with a clear affiliation to the character of the Artful Dodger – penny box was what he pick pocketed.

In December 2011 he started to travel down Glen Huntly Road and not coincidently landed right next to another railway station; the Glen Huntly Station at no1122. Called Whyte, it opened its doors in January 2012 and immediately began pouring The Artful Dodger Company’s Penny Box blend, to the delight of Caulfield and Glen Huntly patrons. Whyte’s decor is a testament to Daniel Zalcberg’s keen eye for detail and innovative style. Renovations soon began on the upper floor of the café that is now able to accommodate large functions, and a coffee roaster is soon to make its way into the courtyard.

Then the Fat Man continued his move in 2012 with the next railway station choice being Windsor on Chapel Street with the recently established The School of 7 Bells. Repairs and revamps for The School of 7 Bells, named after a mythical Colombian school that teaches kids how to pickpocket, began in October 2011. What was once a standalone cobbler’s shop took over 11 months to construct, condition, renovate, design, name and finally open in September 2012. To say 7 Bells is simply decorated would be an understatement; the café has had every ounce of energy, effort and perfection put into it, making it almost the flagship of the three pronged coffee establishments in the greater St Kilda area. Burgundy leather stools line up along the window and two signal lights, one red and one green, border the kitchen pass. The imagination and attention given to 7 Bells has drawn people in off the street, if only to look around at the pickpocket warnings, elaborate prints of cunning foxes and striking designs that cover the bathroom walls and ceiling.

In less than three years Daniel Zalcberg has raised three thriving cafés that now use his own blend and has begun The Artful Dodger Coffee Trading Company, continuing to secure clients around Melbourne. It’s clear the travels of the Fat Man are only just beginning.

For more information or to get in contact with the company do not hesitate to call Daniel Zalcberg on: 0402 199 3209 or drop in to one of the cafés any day of the week.

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