Monday, June 11, 2012

Market Lane - (Melbourne)

   The previous two reviews on St Ali (Melbourne) and Workshop Coffee Co. (London) briefly mentioned on how much Antipodean influence there is in the London coffee scene to have exerted some pressure on the direction it will take,  but as life would have it,  it doesn’t just go one way!    I stumbled across the newish Market Lane Coffee after moving houses and there it was, just a street away.  In hindsight I did remember reading it in some magazine before!   My first ever cup at their Victoria Market outlet had me exclaiming -  WOW!!   This is just so London’s Monmouth Coffee like in drinking style!    I went to Monmouth Coffee at the end of 2010 and had just revisited Monmouth in mid 2012 again and have yet to re-blog that,  but I am prepared to say for once,  Melbourne’s Market Lane is almost a direct replica of the London’s Monmouth Coffee Company at least in concept,  which preceded here by more than 30 years as it was established since 1978  (next to the London Borough Market).   But making such a bold statement would be akin to blaming Market Lane for plagiarism but it is not that simple.    Every staff member at London’s Monmouth Coffee,  upon hearing that I am from Melbourne,  referred me to go visit Market Lane down under, without knowing that I already have numerous times,  as both their owners used to work at Monmouth Coffee to learn their trade and both cafes happily share and split some of their winning coffee auction lots.   They seem to carry mutual respect for each another and give each other support.  


Self Roaster -
There are at least 2,000 cafes in Melbourne. I tend to stick with the renowned roasters or those doing their own styles of coffees,  as I am on a learning mission rather than just drinking! Smile



This Market Lane is at the Prahran Market store. 
The other Market Lane outlet is next to Victoria Market in the CBD,  both within Melbourne.
The following review is a combination of my visits to both places over numerous times…
They serve the same coffee offerings daily,  but just to put it on record the Prahran Market store made slightly better coffees overall.


Love the Coffee Equipment Rack and the Coffee Chart above -

$12 for a Coffee Flight of different Single Origins via Hand Drip -
Who said Australia cafes are about Espresso drinks?  
My back log of the many Australian cafes already covered,  and the many I still haven’t posted are already enough proof in itself.  But some people like stereotyping or haven’t even visited there before,  so I don’t know how these individuals can come to such conclusions without having ever been there.  At least I upload pics and descriptions to write a proper blog to tell you..

The Cakes Selections here are the rustic and simple type -
The Macarons are supplied by La Tropizienne in Hawthorn,  which are decent enough.

This Panela Dulce de Atado sugar looks familiar -
Monmouth Coffee carries this too in London..

Water Tap -
Self served.  You can find this at a few places in Hong Kong cafes too,  such as Café Corridor,  Barista Jam and Knock Box Coffee, etc. 

Today’s Single Origins or Seasonal Espresso Blends on offer,  using Pour Over method -
The majority of Single Origin beans  are here made using Hand Drip as per Monmouth Coffee tradition.  An odd single origin might also be roasted for Espresso based Machines as a versatile offering.  And as I have mentioned before.   Many modern Melbourne and in general Australian cafes have coffee beans roasted to separate levels which are suitable for different extraction methods.  Cafes there are open minded enough to cater for everyone’s needs in between.


Seasonal Espresso - 
El Salvador El Talapo, Guatemala San Francisco, El Salvador La Fanny
This 1st shot at the Victoria Market store was really thin bodied and reminds me of my shots at Monmouth Coffee.  Repeated visits to both here and their other outlet however had more medium bodied shots with more orangey and apricot characters but with an earthy note,  still traceable to the Monmouth roots somehow.   Market Lane is quite unique in this aspect…  it has more clarity but less layering in the base shots.   ~ 8/10

Cappuccino using above Seasonal Blend -
With the organic milk,  this surprisingly had a savoury and grassy note to it.  I wouldn’t say this is utterly balanced,  but it is unique in a way.  Only 1-2 other cafes out of the many I visited in Melbourne or London had this green note to it.    ~  7/10

The Daily Coffee Menu -
Most of the Single Origins are concentrated on Pour Over hand dripped methods.
But at the same time and as explained again and again,  they also have Espresso blends or Singles to cater for the milk crowd.   They co-exists at the same time,  whoever said one café can’t carry them all?


P1190732-1La Candelilla Geisha bean from Costa Rica (Hario V60 Pour Over) -
Panama Geisha beans are all the rage right now, but the geisha varietal originated from Africa then to Costa Rica, before being imported into Panama and acclaimed its world wide fame.
The Panama selections duly deserve their praise. This Costa Rican Geisha lot was surely a little muted compare to the best despite sharing the the similar high altitude and DNA.  It was definitely lacking oomph for a geisha and barely recognisable as one.   Nevertheless, I guess it was still ok but even many blended varietals from Costa Rica can perform better.  Too flat.  ~  6/10

Another Cappuccino,  same Seasonal Blend -
This is ordered at the other outlet,  and not surprisingly they tasted slightly different.  The one here was more sweeter and fruitier,  but still not overly interesting after adding in milk.  It has what I call a 1 dimensional note as it doesn’t evolve much over time and in your mouth,  but at the same time,  it was unique in its own way as most cafes either make cups lighter or heavier than here.  May be they were trying to strike the middle ground here,  but that’s possibly also why this cup wasn’t standing out on either sides and aspects?  It wasn’t engaging.    ~  7/10


Raw Green Beans -


Strong Caffe Latte -
Just like many 3rd Wave cafes,  I found milk coffees here to be slightly weak so a strong latte is more logical.   This was again good but not great.   I am starting to develop the idea that everything here is going to be in the middle ground in performance,  no matter if you order espresso or dripped black coffees using various roasting levels and methods.   ~  7.5/10

Kenya Ichimara SL28 & SL34 – Pour Over Hand Dripped
Said to have notes of Peach, Butter and Apricot.  I couldn’t detect any of these (but I did in the Espresso form later).   It most mostly red fruits and black currants in a monotone form.   It wasn’t underdeveloped or under-extracted in the taste,  but the cupping result was still kind of single dimensional and straightforward.   By this time,  I think I was getting slightly impatient at Market Lane.  At the time of visit,  I remembered Monmouth Coffee and many other cafes to make better cups in general.  My recent visit to Monmouth Coffee again reconfirms that there was something not right with the similar coffees made here,  as Monmouth was fantastic and even better than before.  Still,  this was better than many Single Origin cups I get in some HK Cafes which stay totally muted and not near their terroir or beans potential.    ~  6.9/10

Single Origin or Blended Beans for Sale -
Single Origins for both Hand Drip or Espresso Machine roasted level,  according to what u choose.
Blended Beans are mostly for espressos.
Most experienced coffee drinkers or baristas would be able to tell the difference,
but sometimes,  the Cafes should also label them with clear demarcation too !

Kenya Ichihara Pea berries, Moure-ini District (Single Espresso, Synesso pulled) -
Already drank as a pour over above,  these SL28 & 34 are washed then sun-dried. This is interesting as the nose is Lemon & very Marzipan sugar like, buttery.  Very acidic sour despite also carrying intense sugar and at Espresso level roasted,  but only described as very sweet on the tasting note.   It ran both ends of the spectrum in this cup!    This is much sweeter when drank as a Pour Over on another day but also much less interesting there.  This fared slightly better but still not exceptional compared to the best Espressos I have had in Melbourne.     7.5/10

El Salvador La Fany (Hario V60 Hand Dripped) -
This red bourbon lot is beloved by many, it smells great with a Sugar Cane background but there is no mistake as to its citrusy and sour cherry note today. Very bright and clean, but a little too thin in the mouth and not really punching through,  much like most coffees drank at Market Lane.  Surprising,  since the nose is much more interesting but fell short again in the palate itself. I like this personally though, may be the aroma is the key?   But having tried this bean at other places before,  I think this was on the weaker side…    6.9/10

Price: AUD $3 to $6
Coffee:  ♕♕♕ 1/2  to ♕♕♕♕ 1/2
Opening Hours -
Mon-Sat:   7am-4pm
Sun:   8am-4pm

- Shop 13, Prahran Market/163 Commercial Road, South Yarra VIC 3141  (Preferred choice)
- 133/135 Victoria Street, Melbourne VIC 3000.  (More for Take-Away coffees and much smaller!)

Ph: (03)9804 7434

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