Centre Place in Melbourne is a vibrant laneway full of street art, photographers and city folk searching for a restaurant or café to sit and people-watch. Nestled among the chaos of the dedicated foodie strip is Lorca.
The café’s retro orange La Marzocco machine sits in the eye line of passers by, luring them in one by one. It’s this tucked-away gem that offers customers an authentic Spanish and Portuguese experience – and a quality coffee too.
“What’s not to love? We use the best coffee machine and serve the best brand of coffee,” says co-owner Maria Echevarria-Lang. “Our great coffee makes people pay attention.”
Maria has been working in hospitality for 25 years. It was only after her partner Bea Fernadz suggested opening their own café that the couple considered turning their idea into reality. Using Allpress Coffee’s supreme blend, Maria says it was thanks to a former New Zealand barista who said, ‘You must try this coffee”, and so they did and have been convinced ever since.
“People just love this coffee. It’s full-flavoured without any bitterness and has a nice smoothness to it,” Maria says.
Maria adds that Lorca has noticed the excel of Melbourne’s coffee culture in the last few years. “We sell a lot of espresso, long black and piccolo coffees – more than ever,” she says. “The coffee culture has gone haywire. It’s come along in leaps and bounds. You really couldn’t find any better coffee in the world than Melbourne.”
Despite the bustle of the busy café strip, Maria says it hasn’t prevented them building strong friendships with regular customers – from office workers to families. “We make a lot of friends in this great location,” she says. “We know people by name, we make orders to their specifications and we’ve tried to create an informal environment.”
Lorca’s food menu is also popular with the lunchtime city crowd. Their Paella and Frango Portugese spiced chicken are the two biggest sellers. Standout breakfast dishes also include flamenco eggs poached in a tomato sauce, and French toast with Hula bread.
“We want to create a relaxed ambience and give our customers a taste of the best produce we can offer,” Maria says. “But there’s one thing we’re very religious about: Sunday is our day off.”