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The marble-topped front counter at this inner-urban café holds three coffee grinders, a $16,000 three-group, Italian-made DC PRO espresso machine and a new-wave $5000 filter-brewing device; its commitment to specialty coffee is writ loud.
Maison (house of) Ama Lurra (a new coffee brand being roasted in Sydney) is the concept of a trio of businessmen planning a new national coffee chain. Giles Legg and Philippe Million are the faces of the partnership.
Million, a French-born chef who has run cafés and catering companies in Sydney, is in charge of the European-inspired menu. Legg, a former ski instructor who runs a backpackers lodge and has corporate and hospitality backgrounds, runs the café.
Legg says the café has deliberately gone against the grunge-style coffee house concept and pitched itself to the local business community by offering something a little bit different. Theres free Wi-Fi, private meeting rooms that seat up to eight and a catering service. But we are also finding that we have strong appeal for parents seeking a more open space, Legg says.
Aside from the coffee focus, presided over by barista and roaster Tristan Creswick, the café serves Mariage Frères teas, imported from France, in specialty cast-iron pots.
Tristan Creswick says he is challenged by the 15-odd variables of the Bunn Trifecta coffee brewer. The machines three phases coffee saturation, brewing and extraction are manipulated using coffee-grind size, brewing temperature and time, he explains. Creswicks brew, made with a Colombian Supremo bean, was a subtle, tea-like drink that began, as promised, with notes of cocoa and cooled to a fruity finish. The 2007 national latte art runner-up and the 2009 NSW latte art champion also made a ristretto using the house No. 1 blend (PNG, Costa Rica, Brazil and Ethiopia). It was viscous and bright, with rich notes of burnt toffee and creamy dates, finishing with a juicy acidity. His expertly etched milk brews sailed by to other tables.
Maison Ama Lurra, 123 Howard Street, North Melbourne
Phone 9329 6622
Barista Tristan Creswick
Coffee Ama Lurra
Baristas choice All types
Open Monday to Friday 7am-4pm; weekends 8am-4pm
Light, bright and elegant, this six-week-old café hopes to attract a niche market in North Melbourne. Previously a cartographers studio, the broad, open space is now filled with designer-look couch settings in muted tones of taupe and grey, wide communal tables with silvery metal chairs and stools, smaller settings and meeting rooms tucked behind prettily etched glass walls. The space calls out to friends in groups with prams and professionals looking for a relaxed working space. A muted-green window mural reflects the colours of the glossy kitchen tiles and the throw cushions on the couches, bringing the whole package together with soothing simplicity.