Little Lebanon: Al-Alamy Nuts + Coffee

Sydney Road is one of my favorite parts of town, and it’s not hard to guess why… it’s Little Lebanon! well, Little Middle East, really, since it represents the flavors of the entire region from Turkey to Saudi Arabia and everything in between. the family run cafes, green grocers, kebab and pastry shops stretch for miles up Sydney Road, always leaving a reason to come back and try something new.

usually, i head straight to my mainstay halfway up the long street. this time, i stuck with the #19 tram a few stops longer, and ended up at Al-Alamy, just off the northern most side of Sydney Road in Coburg.

a bit of background: the Arab world is a vast and diverse one, differing in language, cultural norms and food. so when you hear your dialect, smell your food… it feels like home, like you belong there even if you’re a stranger in the crowd. since the main Middle Eastern population in Melbourne is Levantine like me (from Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Palestine), i get particularly warm and fuzzy when i head up there. when you’re far away from home, this is a coveted feeling. to say i found this and more at Al-Alamy would be an understatement.

my visit started with the ceremonial cup of rocket fuel Turkish coffee, made with Al-Alamy’s house-roasted beans… the perfect boost of energy to look through the rest of the store.

what i found were walls of spices – everything from cinnamon to house-made allspice blends. all so reasonably priced. $2.50-$3.50 for huge amounts of cloves, shawarma mix, vanilla sugar, ras-el-hanout, cardamom…
beyond the spice racks are 4 back-to-back rows of bulk items: dried legumes, grains, fruits, lentils, coffee, and sweets. again all very reasonably priced (see $1.99/kg for corn?)

as i said, there are plenty of other great Lebanese cafe’s and markets in the area. but what made my visit to Al-Alamy so worthwhile was the staff. the service was beyond any other that i’ve had around the area. the staff was not only helpful but super friendly – one girl and i carried on quite a long conversation, like we’d known each other for years. i’d gone in looking for some coffee cups, but could only find sets of 12. when i told i only needed 2, she smiled and gave me two for $1. she then threw in my favorite ground coffee and a coconut candy free of charge. 
a bit off the beaten path, and a bit longer on the tram (or you can park right outside!), but SO worth visiting. with a family-friendly atmosphere, ingredients and kitchen utensils of every kind and a helpful staff, it’s the perfect place to linger over a strong coffee, a snack, and a shoparound. first time to a Middle Eastern place? no better an introduction than this one.
Al Alamy
6/51 Waterfield St, Coburg 3058
(03) 9355 8866
Al Alamy on Urbanspoon
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00267762026583525273 Foodness Gracious

    What a great story, here where I live we have a few Lebanese restaruants which make an absolutely amazing shawarma and my favorite, kofta. Wrapped up in a pita with some garlic aioli and other stuff it really tastes great. I need to find a Lebanese area in Los Angeles to get me some shawarma mix. I never knew there was such a thing!
    Thanks, I think my lunch tommorow is sorted…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16327344027557036250 Candace

    I would love to be able to visit that store! The spice wall and the bulk bins are amazing. I think I could spend a very long time in there. I want to try everything. haha Thank you for sharing a little bit of your world with us. More, please?! Have a great week, Yasmeen! So happy to have found you in the blogosphere!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06704064690267281149 Indie.Tea

    Its sounds like a wonderful place.
    I haven’t been to a Lebanese mkt, but a Turkish one that is similarly stocked…and I just discovered sumac, and made za’atar…both are SO good!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08934497862144836328 Lady Grey

    Wow I wish we had a spice store like that near us!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03179565521211518527 Elena (Running in Heels After Child)

    I love grocery stores and markets, everywhere I have gone in the word I have to check out the local markets. This looks like a good find.

    best,

    elena

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12223782320260412578 Sarah

    Wow! I don’t even know if we have a spice store near us – but that looks AMAZING! I didn’t even know that they had places like that – I would LOVE to go to one, one day! Thank you!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03555273626929715243 Mollie

    I miss this about back home, the ethnic neighborhoods where you can find the really neat out-of-the-way shops and places.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17091286576114972885 sarah nicole

    I would love this place! Let’s go when I visit ; )

    xo,

    Sarah

  • http://www.6bittersweets.com/ Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets

    Wow this looks like a great store. Wish I were close to it!

  • Rose

    I used to eat at Al-Alamy every day! It is pretty much my favourite place in the world. Best, most delicious food and so insanely cheap. Long live Al-Alamy International Coffee and Nuts!

  • Assia

    I love every thing this is my home