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A cup of kindness always brewing at Adelaide City Salvos


Adelaide City Salvos café and its friendly barista, Cornel Alderson.
By MAJOR MAL DAVIES

If you wander down the east end of Pirie Street in Adelaide on any weekday morning, you may detect the scent of coffee. No, it’s not emanating from the dance studio or the architects’ office or even the apartment block – it’s coming from the café and decking at the front of City Salvos.


A café has operated there in different formats over the past decade but relaunched in its current format in February 2022 and has recently employed a new barista.


While most of the customers are Doorways clients (awaiting morning appointments or seeking assistance), the café is open to anyone. Apart from a barista, the café is staffed by volunteers from the church community.


The café seeks to be a welcoming place that offers both a nice cup of tea or coffee in the morning, as well as a smile and someone to talk to. It often has music playing and flowers on the tables, and some light reading material at hand promoting the work of The Salvation Army.


New barista Cornel Alderson emigrated from India with his family when he was 16 and settled in Salisbury Downs in the north of Adelaide. He worked for government departments for 22 years (doing admin, clerical and surveying work) before moving into hospitality work.


Cornel has worked in different hospitality roles at hospitals, sporting clubs, hotels and even on a boat, and is an experienced barista.


He is a ‘people person’ who likes talking and laughing and is a caring person who says that the caring, dedicated approach of The Salvation Army is the perfect workplace for him.

A happy customer at City Salvos café, enjoying his morning coffee.

“I was raised by an Indian Catholic father and an English Anglican mother, and I attended a Catholic church and school,” he says. “Then, just to really confuse things, I married a Greek lady who was Greek Orthodox!


“My mum was a teacher and had a strong moral code, and I was raised to do things right and care for others, and that’s stayed with me. So, I’m thrilled to work for The Salvation Army, which is an amazing organisation and really does care for people ... just as I want to.”


Cornel has done years of hospitality work and has learnt to value and respect people and talk to them at their own level. He says that much of his work – apart from making coffee – is about simply being friendly and offering a listening ear.


“If you treat people nicely, more often than not they’ll treat you nicely,” he says. “My job is to give people a friendly start to the day and a smile, and to always treat them with respect.”


The café is one of the main public entry points to the church, and so Cornel is, by default, one of the first Army representatives that visitors and new clients will speak to.


“What better way to start the day,” says Cornel, “than with a good coffee and a smile.”


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