February 20, 2011 5 Comments
Tues – Sat: 7am – 5pm
Sun 9am – 3pm
Coffee: Market Lane House Blend, Specialised Coffee Blends, Single Origin
“There is no denying that coffee is an integral part of our lives. We use it as a medium to catch up with friends, to wake ourselves up, to push through the working day or just to enjoy the depth that this beverage provides. However, I pose the question to you - how much do you really know about what is in that magic cup of goodness?
Market Lane Coffee is not brunch place per se, but rather a coffee speciality cafe located in the heart of Prahran Market. The outfit is beautifully open, with an assorted arrangement of tables, bench tops and a communal table which provide coffee goers a refreshing and comfortable environment. They offer an extensive range of coffee blends from various origins which can be viewed from the counter blackboard which regularly changes with the season. They also roast all of their beans and create a house blend which is unique and delightful. You will not be comforted with a dull coffee here!
From Thursday to Sunday, Market Lane Coffee offers a free cupping session for either the coffee enthusiast or the beginner. A cupping season simulates the process that coffee roasting groups go through when creating the perfect blend. They first purchase a sample of a newly seasoned blend. The sample is then roasted at different levels (low, medium or dark) which is analysed at three different stages. First the freshly ground fragrance. Second is the aroma where water heated to 90 degrees is applied. Lastly is the best part – tasting.
The cupping session involved seven different beans. Without sounding too pretentious, the depth to the ground coffee fragrances and aromas were incredible. I had smelt nutty, citrus, chocolate and even caramel. Then there was the tasting! With many slurping actions, we had tasted a great range of coffee flavours. What made the cupping experience even more interesting is the mystery to the origin of the beans. Not even the demonstrator knew until the end. Having a beginner/intermediate coffee palate, I could identify the “easy” tastes which a coffee beans embodied. However, one of the baristas had arrived for a quick tasting , quickly identifying that one of the blends had an “old taste to it, as if it had been sitting in the plane too long”. Impressive! It was a fun experience to have where you could share with friends what you had tasted and guess where the beans had originated.
At the end of the cupping session, a proper coffee was needed. As you wait to order, there is a very convenient coffee flow chart showing the various factors that go into considering what kind of coffee you feel like experiencing for the day. I’m an espresso man at heart and so my choice was easy, Long Black - Market Lane Espresso Blend [$3.50]. This coffee had a 50/50 of two different coffee beans, and with my newly improved palate I could definitely identify the sweat taste it embodied.
Market Lane Coffee is no ordinary coffee shop, but rather it’s a coffee experience. This is definitely a pre-requisite to attend if you consider yourself a coffee goer.”
“Mr LB and I have been talking about attending a coffee cupping session for a long time, and when I was told about a free sessions held at Market Lane Coffee (Thursdays - Sundays, 10am) I jumped at the chance. Not just because of the experience, but also because of all the fantastic things I’d been hearing about Market Lane Coffee.
Upon arrival at Prahran Markets, we gathered our friend The Rabbit and headed straight to the cupping session. We were handed a grading sheet (based on various factors such as aroma, body, finish, etc) and 7 types of beans were presented to us. I won’t go into too much detail about the cupping process, as Mr LB has already provided a rather detailed description above. I will just briefly say that it was amazing to smell the difference between the coffee aroma (freshly ground beans) and the coffee fragrance (with hot water). Some where potent, some fruity and even one with spice. The experience was an interesting one, and something I would like to do again, if not just for the sake of fine-tuning my ability to identify coffee flavours.
After the session, my palate was a little muddled with all the different varieties of coffee that we had tried. We thought it best to have a pre-brunch coffee and snack, and I settled on a Fazenda Barreiro regular latte [$4.50] from Brazil. It was described as having sugarcane sweetness with notes of chocolate, date, fig and a lingering toffee finish. I also ordered a Plain Croissant with Jam [$4] to share.
My latte was beautifully presented with a little collectors spoon. My first sip was interesting; the coffee was extremely distinct from almost all other lattes I’ve had, and there was a strange aftertaste which I don’t believe was attributed to toffee, but instead the fig. I’m not sure I enjoyed it 100%, but I wouldn’t say I disliked it either. Perhaps it was just adjusting to a bean with such prominent flavours coming through.
My earlier post about St Ali gushed about my love for panela sugar, but at Market Lane Coffee they prefer Dulce – unrefined, dried sugarcane juice sourced from Spain. It was very unusual simply because I’d never seen it in any other cafe before.
My croissant to share came out and it was huge. The berry jam was freshly made, and the croissant had an excellent crust on the top of the pastry. I could tell it was going to be good even before starting. The crust made a crunching noise as I slit my knife through the top, dissecting a corner off and lathering it in jam. It was beautifully fluffy inside and the jam was magnificent. Not too sweet, but sweet enough.
It’s both a blessing and real shame that Market Lane Coffee doesn’t have a full brunch or even lunch menu - some sourdough with butter or pastries are on offer, but they keep their focus on the coffee. I’d love to come back here for an almond croissant and to try some of their other specialised blends. Market Lane Coffee is definitely worth the hype that surrounds them, but more than that, it’s somewhere fun to spend the morning that is a little different from norm.”
Final thought: “A pre-requisite for any coffee connoisseur”