Liar Liar, now more than three years old, is in the hands of its third set of owners. It’s no longer part of the St Ali chain, but is still using coffee roasted by the group’s Sensory Lab. Robin Shepherd says he and fellow owners Marco and Aaron Garbellotto – previously partners in a newsagency – have retained the components of the café’s reputation-earning formula. They took over six months ago, after looking for a business in the city and stumbling across Liar Liar. “We came in and loved the carrot cake so much we bought the café,” he jokes.
Most of the staff were retained and Shepherd says the emphasis will be on improved customer service.
While Sensory Lab is roasting the house blend and some daily coffees, other single-origin beans are roasted by Five Senses in Cheltenham and Market Lane Coffee in Prahran.
A cold-drip brew, made with a lightly roasted bean from Honduras, was unlike other darker-roasted versions I’ve tried. It was more subtle, with notes of bittersweet chocolate, a hint of raw cashews and a mild finish; the gently roasted beans making it more akin to a cooled syphon coffee. Enthusiastic staff made the experiment fun.
Attending a cupping (tasting) session once a week at roaster Market Lane Coffee allows head barista Jack Watson to challenge his senses. Watson is fascinated by the flavour nuances in wine and says he’s on a massive learning curve. Liar Liar’s coffee menu lists one house blend, a daily single origin for espresso – mine was from Kirimara Estate in Kenya – and a range of other first-rate beans for pour-over, Clover and filter brews. Watson (ex-Woodstock in Armadale) says he encourages customers to experiment with a Clover brew. “After all, we are one of only six places in Melbourne with a Clover. And I enjoy going through flavour profiles with them. When I tell people we have a Guatemalan El Triangulo with notes of jam and butter, they get pretty excited,” he says.
Liar Liar, 90 Kinkora Road, Hawthorn
Phone \ 9818 8864
Barista \ Jack Watson
Coffee \ Sensory Lab, Five Senses, Market Lane
Barista’s choice \ Double ristretto or pour over
Open \ Monday to Friday 7am-5pm; Weekends 8am-5pm
Web \ www.liarliarcafe.com.au
Little has changed at this moody suburban oasis. Low painters’ stools, dark furniture and a series of silver domes suspended over a central communal table are the dominant first impressions. Cut metal light-fittings and wall panelling cast distorted geometric shadows across the earth-toned rendered walls and the smooth, polished floors, and there’s a turntable in one corner but it’s silent while upbeat techno music fills the air. Tiny tobacco-coloured tiles wrap behind the counter, a subtle backdrop to the slick espresso machine and the prestigious Clover filter machine. A specially built rack holds 10?coffee-bean hoppers, most filled and ready to be used in one of three grinders on the counter. Beside it, the coffee menu lists an impressive array of daily selections.