Market Lane Coffee, Melbourne, Australia
One thing I really do miss about living in Melbourne Australia is the coffee. Sorry to say that Singapore but it’s true, The Semi-Naked Chef just doesn’t like your coffee. Melbourne has many hundreds of baristas, it so truly loves and takes pride in its coffee. A great opportunity arose on a work trip to Melbourne last week. My new boss Alice, decides to take us on team building exercise – so of we trot to Prahran Market in the suburbs, and Market Lane Coffee, Melbourne.
Now this was fun. It was coffee taste testing – or cupping as they call it. This was very similar to doing wine tasting, quite incredible actually. Cupping from a soup spoon, sucking the coffee in and creating a sucking noise whilst doing so. This is critical, as it aerates the coffee to allow more taste on your tongue. Believe me it worked.
These guys actually create relationships with the growers, committing purchasing, investment if you will in them. It works. They can monitor fair trading practices and of course the quality of the product. Here’s one for you. Did you know that when picked the coffee beans are covered in a red skin, and these are called cherries. Go figure.
Here is their coffee roaster. This thing dates back to 1930’s but is now suped up with computer controlled telematics, air flows, and cooling systems to create the perfect roast for that bean or blends. In to the top you throw your beans which are then roasted due to direct heat, and convectional heat. Once roasted open the tray and allow them to drop on the cooler. The black spinny thing at the bottom there. Basically this sucks the heat off the beans whilst moving them round. Why? Just like plunging vegetables in to ice after cooking, it aims to stop the roasting process which would ruin the beans flavour.
We had 5 coffees to sample, one of which was a red herring – and guess what we all guessed it right. Yeap it was horrible, tasting of burnt wood – almost like charcoal. Not very nice at all and certainly not from the Market Lane Coffee, Melbourne roaster.
First of you smell the roasted beans, with your mouth open, to get all the senses going. Then in with some hot water. Your tongue then kicks in as this can detect sweet, salt, bitter, sour and/or umami. Yep we’re trying to pick all that lot up during our cupping session – smells and flavours and to then jot them all down on a marking sheet to see how close we came to the pros.
The proper four coffee cuppings went like this;
- La Maravilla from Guatemala;
- They describe this as having a delicious winey sweetness, notes of honey and red apple with a rose finish;
- I said Caramel, citrus, lime zest, and floral – not bad hey.
- Santa Isabel, from Guatemala;
- They describe this as having toffee sweetness, with notes of plum and orange;
- I said tomatoes and fruit – again not bad right.
- Kiunyu, from Kenya;
- They describe this as having a vibrant, sweet flavour with notes of blackcurrant and lime;
- I said burnt butter, with cold tomato soup (gazpacho).
- A seasonal espresso blend;
- They describe this as having a heavy body, with dark chocolate and blackcurrant finishes;
- I said earthy, with mushroom overtones.
So if you happen to be in Melbourne and Prahran Market I reckon you should pop in and have a go at cupping. It was really good fun, and I have to say quite surprising the flavour differences in a cup of Joe.