The Pickers Union cafe
by : Mary O’Brien ( The Weekly Review )
It’s impressive what a dream, some carpentry skills and an eye for the quirky can achieve. The back of a vintage market seems an unlikely spot to find a great café but Bek and Sev Lah have used the industrial setting to create one of Geelong’s most exciting cafés.
Open only two months, news is already spreading about The Pickers Union.
The Lahs have a strong focus on coffee (from local award-winning Cartel Coffee) and offer a simple selection of housemade cakes, rolls and paninis.
“We want to have awesome coffee, tasty food and an atmosphere that makes people feel at home,” says Bek.
The menu features La Madre bread and pastries, organic teas, Mexican soft drinks and the yummy Crazy slice.
Already the tradies are rolling up, market shoppers are dropping in and locals are discovering the place.
The timing wasn’t ideal with a 10-month-old baby, but the Lahs had dreamed of opening their own café for some time.
“We were big experts in going to cafés but it has been a steep learning curve,” Bek says.
With a few years’ experience as a barista, Toni Kara is enjoying her first foray into the world of specialty coffee. After some top-up training at coffee roaster Cartel, Kara is keen to share her knowledge with customers.
“Every time I make a coffee I am so particular because I now know the hard work that goes into growing and making it,” she says.
The Chief Rocker blend comprises Mexican and Ethiopian beans that are brewed into a rich, smooth drink with hints of fruit and a strong chocolate-caramel creaminess.
Kara encourages people to try a single-origin coffee for a change. This can be brewed by the La Marzocco machine, siphon or pour over.
Her own favourite brewing method is a siphon because, she says, the equipment makes her feel like a scientist. She also occasionally hands out free samples of siphon coffee to show people what the light brew tastes like.
The WA-bred, Norlane-based barista loves her job. “I’m a big extrovert and I get my people fix every day at work,” she says.
Not surprisingly, service is cheery, informative and all with a smile.
THE PICKERS UNION CAFé
3 Mackey Street, Geelong
Phone \ 0447 531 844
Coffee \ Cartel
Cute retro just about sums up The Pickers Union Café. Bek Lah has a great eye for design and husband Sev is handy with a hammer. They’ve created a cosy bolthole: from the outdoor verandah with fake grass and tables to the colourful counter inside made from found timber. Vintage furniture, recycled doors as dividers and ceiling art all make for an original spot.