[编辑 Editor 吕大人 英译 Translator 刘大人 摄影 Photographer 黄大人]
You have to love coffee to roast it correctly, and you have to live and breathe coffee to really enjoy it. Although coffee was part of our daily ritual, we had never stopped to think that somewhere, someone actually “made” that very coffee we were savouring.
But that was it. He had no prior experience, no expertise. What he did have, was a lot of passion and a very clear vision: to introduce Johor Bahru to a different kind of coffee, and to educate people about their coffee, help them make it better and enjoy it more. It didn’t take long for him to fall in love with the idea, and he decided to take a sabbatical and spend time travelling around Australia. That’s where the idea of starting his own business was born.
不同於多数咖啡师仅精于掌握豆子的属性，在澳洲墨尔本修读厨师课程多年的 Elvin 原来亦属进得了厨房之人啊！在当地生活多年的他，那一场咖啡的不期而遇源于某个周末午后，与友人在墨尔本 Seven Seeds Specialty Coffee Roaster 所尝的杯测，不尝则已，一尝惊人，「原来不加糖的咖啡也能有水蜜桃般的清甜。」随着对单品咖啡的热爱与日俱增，Elvin 内心其实早已渐渐埋下了与咖啡的不解之缘，而这一切在其毕业归国赴新成为米其林二星厨房团队的一员后，才更坚信明了自己一生所爱，「有一天，厨房里的后勤阿姨给我冲泡了一杯Latte，喝下的那一刻让我顿时想起了过去在墨尔本所尝过的美好滋味与回忆。」
Meet Elvin Lee, roaster-barista-owner who is undoubtedly one of the most passionate, coffee-obsessed persons we have ever met. Having had his first whiff (cupping) and taste of his favourite beverage at its original best at Seven Seeds Specialty Coffee Roaster while learning and honing his culinary skills in Melbourne, the seeds were planted in Elvin‘s heart that he would one day developed a meaningful relationship with the beans. Yet the story was hardly scripted, according to Elvin, who left his job at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Singapore to strike out on his own, thanks to that fateful (and possibly final) cup of Latte from the same kitchen.
也因为这一杯呼唤内心的咖啡，让他毅然辞去稳定的工作，於2013年回到了墨尔本与布里斯班专心进修烘豆课程。转眼间，对咖啡风味异常讲究的 Elvin 迈入咖啡事业已逾三年，而咖啡馆也从一开始的 Setia Eco Garden 迁至 Taman Molek 这个咖啡聚合地，前者则转为幕后烘豆之处。新据点的风格也与前身的街头涂鸦风 (也正是 AlleyLab 的名字由来) 迥异，白色净雅的艺廊氛围让在品咖啡的大人，享了多一份欣赏杯中物的专注。
Armed with a year’s worth of coffee knowledge from his sabbatical in Melbourne and Brisbane, Elvin opened his own cafe with the aim of providing excellent, ethically-sourced coffee to Johoreans. Taking inspiration from the Melbourne street art and creatively decorated with graffiti, the original place in Setia Eco Garden has an underground feel but is pretty hipster as well, which defined the earliest AlleyLab concept. The newest outlet in Taman Molek, however, represents a stark contrast with its white-washed minimalist chic decor resembling a gallery where like-minded coffee geeks gravitate. In essence, the focus is now on excellent coffee!
这里的豆子来自不同区域：中美洲、南美洲、非洲与印度，从选豆、进口豆子、烘豆至泡制一杯带原始风味的咖啡皆来自忠于原味的 Elvin 之手。今年6月初，大人就在脸书上瞧见许多咖啡爱好者在此打卡，其中不乏同业，「要在这里站稳市场，就必需祭出最鲜明的特色。在 AlleyLab，我倾向透过过程，就犹如我自身的经历，让你找出一杯适合自己的咖啡。庆幸这一区的顾客皆属精于品味咖啡之人，对于无糖、忠于原味的咖啡接受度非常高。当然许多朋友也在附近开店，迁址这里方便大家聚会与进行杯测嘛 (笑)。」AlleyLab 办免费杯测的频率极高，最近即公开邀请咖啡爱好者与同业前来品味来自台湾的绝佳豆子，对于推广咖啡鉴赏，Elvin 向来不遗余力。
With his roasting philosophy centred around a need to forever improve, to relentlessly work towards the most enjoyable representation of a particular coffee, Elvin wasted no time in sourcing for quality beans from the best growers around the world. More like a craft than a production, Elvin roasts in small batches and bring together the best characteristics of these green beans to form unique taste profiles. Hand roasted, hand packed, hand stamped with the roast date, this is how his beans make their way into the cups of JB and beyond.
While many of us know what we like or dislike, we may not always be able to differentiate our Kenyan from Ethiopian. Now we can heighten our knowledge and appreciation of the dark brew with the regular coffee cupping sessions with Elvin, and best of all, these informative get-togethers are FREE!
在此扎营了数个月后，Elvin 发现这一区原来潜藏了好多嗜咖啡香的各国常客，许多日韩朋友就常在周日到此话聚或外带他们家的咖啡与三文治，周末的 AlleyLab 更是许多外籍人士的天地。大人到场当日，就亲眼目睹 Elvin 与许多常客轻易打开话匣子，亲切地像家人好友的相处方式让人动容。从推门而入的日常寒暄，就位后的体贴点餐，间中的话家常，皆是这咖啡艺廊里最美的气息。
Inside the bright, minimalist space of Elvin’s new cafe in Taman Molek, the aroma of freshly ground and brewed coffee is practically palpable upon entry. While AlleyLab may have recently entered the competitive cafe-scape in Taman Molek but it has already amassed a loyal following among the local coffee lovers from their early days in Setia Eco Garden, with a young and growing hipster and expat crowd filling up the space even on recent weekend afternoons.
In our opinion, what sets AlleyLab apart are the well-trained baristas who understand the complex processes behind making a great cup of coffee and are equipped with the know-how to customise each cup to individual preference, while Elvin puts a lot of thought and effort to help us understand and appreciate coffee. While he knows his product well, Elvin also has a “laid back and awesome demeanour. Our conversation also extends beyond the story behind every cup of coffee to freely express our opinions, discussing just anything from our life aspirations to bouncing ideas off each other for inspirations.
眼前这三份带有果香与豆香的 Coffee Flight (RM45: 1)可选择3杯手冲咖啡； 2)可选择 1杯 espresso + 1杯 milk base 的组合，三种风味共6杯，若不适应 espresso 的浓郁滋味，主人家亦提供沸水稀释)，器皿上的小卡片即是 Elvin 精心整理后的咖啡风味：有着草莓风味的果香咖啡、带有橙香的果香咖啡与豆香风味的咖啡，由浅入深，酸至更酸进阶。初次登门的咖啡爱好者可藉由这一套六杯的咖啡寻觅出适合自己口味的完美咖啡，大人得知主人家每两个月即会更换豆子风味，绝对是好此杯中物者的佳音！「经过一轮测试，与大人最对味的仍属 Nutty 啊！」
If you tend to “lepak” at cafes long enough to order at least two drinks, or if you like the idea of comparing coffees from different regions side by side, then you’ll likely enjoy a coffee flight. Similar to a beer or wine flight, the coffee flight at Alleylab consists of three drinks assembled by Elvin and served together as a set. And like a beer or wine flight, we can really study how each coffee drink in the set differs from the others and appreciate the variety, and each coffee served comes with a little note with basic facts to get us interested about where our coffee comes from, the process, roast and flavours.
We certainly enjoyed your maiden caffeine flight, which is something uncommon in JB. We also love the way Elvin divided his coffee based on their taste profiles of Floral, Fruity and Nutty, so it is easy to make our choices according to our preferences. Personally, we still prefer our coffees “nutty”!
源自法国北部洛林 (Lorraine) 的饼派，亦称法式咸派。大人真的好生羡慕，出自 Elvin 之手的 Quiche Lorraine (RM12) 的美味与其亲手泡制的咖啡真是不相伯仲啊！「表层微焦而不焦，软脆合宜，薄厚适中，大人好喜欢这以奶酪、培根与派皮融为一体的滋味，刚刚好的完美。」
Named after the Lorraine region of France, we don’t often think of Quiche Lorraine as a dinner food, but we would gladly eat this savoury pie late into the night. Handmade by Elvin and baked to stay crisp enough to contain the slightly quivering bacon fillings that were almost soufflé-like within, giving the quiche a distinct flavour without masking the egginess. This is also not the time for calorie counting, and we could smell the pie before it even reaches our table!
Open Toast – Red Garden & Stack
这两份近期推出的 Open Toast 真是太对大人的胃口啦！铺上了满满的脆菜丝、腌制萝卜、乳酪片、番茄，Red Garden (RM16) 里原来还匿藏了份量超级大方的金枪鱼！「添入了些许辣椒微粒调味的金枪鱼，与爽脆的蔬菜及烤得香脆的特制土司齐入口，竟然如此提味！主人家提点这道 Open Toast 也能为刚刚喝过咖啡的口舌重唤清新噢！」
If you still think of sandwiches as your boring ham and sliced cheese held between soggy white bread, you probably need to get a life. In fact, more and more places these days are including gourmet twists and influences from all over the world into their sandwiches, and the latest Open Toast creations by Elvin matches the theme of being unpretentious, simple and rustic. Traditionally a simple “grab & go” breakfast food, the Red Garden jazzes things up by placing spicy sweet tuna and crunchy greens on top of the freshly baked artisanal toast that provided for a refreshing change from the savoury pie and coffee flight a while ago.
将之命名为 Stack (RM17)，毫无悬念绝对是因为里头层层叠叠的丰富食材：太阳蛋、烟熏鸡肉火腿、腌制黄梨片、番茄片、食蔬与特制香脆土司，集咸酸甜於一身好讨喜！「这一道看似重口味的 Open Toast，完食速度惊人噢！多层次的滋味乃当仁不让的加速器，香煎过的腌制黄梨巧妙中和了甜腻，好加分！」
If you’re in the mood for a “big breakfast”, the Stack certainly looked the part with their generous servings of smoked chicken ham, caramelised pineapple, juicy cherry tomatoes, more refreshing greens and topped with a sunny side up that’s nicely done. With good quality bread and delectable fillings at affordable prices, why not trade your salad and bowls for heartier sandwiches?
Pecan Pie & Apple Crumble
Elvin 告诉大人他们家的 Pecan Pie (上图，RM16; RM13 without ice cream) 可是这儿的当家甜点噢！而且还有许多人客特地前来选购当作生日蛋糕呢！「撒满了胡桃果仁的饼派，香而不过於甜腻，而且主人家将厚度掌握地恰好，搭配以牛奶为基底的不易融雪糕，雪糕球上还飘洒了肉桂粉，大人我就算吃多了也不言悔啊！」
Apple Crumble (下图，RM16; RM13 without ice cream) 的受落程度丝毫不逊 Pecan Pie 噢！酥脆的饼派与饼碎搭上煮得鲜甜软嫩的苹果内馅，太令人欲罢不能了！「这绝对是大人心目中名列前茅的版本。」
It’s finally time for the “royal rumble”, where Pecan Pie (all-time best seller) meets Apple Crumble (the new cake on the block). Rich, treacly and crowned with a layer of toasted pecan, the Pecan Pie was a joy to savour with its soft pecan filling and a base that doesn’t crumble even when we fork it. Each bite was wonderfully delish with a distinct, nutty crunch and a sticky mixture that wasn’t cloyingly sweet. On the other hand, the Apple Crumble wasn’t all crust like most commercial ones & the apple was gently stewed in its own juices resulting in a touch of natural sweetness that was pleasant on the palate. One of our favourites in town, a version that would please most diners especially when top with a scoop of soft serve ice-cream!
能将精品咖啡与手作轻食皆品控得宜的咖啡馆，实力坚强得让大人实在找不出理由不推荐给看官们啊！而且主人家对于在地文化活动的支持也相当有心有力啊！从2017年11月1日起至26日，28位本地杰出的手作者也将在此办联展与工作坊［Hey, I Am Here］，大人内心着实迫不及待啊！
If you are looking for somewhere to rest your body and mind, AlleyLab provides a relaxing environment on top of their speciality coffee and bites to escape the stress of life and just to chill out. Great for breakfast, brunch, or just as a snack (or all three) for a convenient and tasty meal, do check out their latest artisanal sandwiches to go with the coffees. In the month of November, do check out [Hey, I Am Here] – a group exhibition comprises the work of 28 local artists, telling stories about themselves by making their own portrait in (or out of) the box of their choices, which runs from 1st to 26th November!
Coffee is a never-ending story, and we (together with Elvin) will continue writing it.
Alleylab Coffee @ Taman Molek
Address: No. 17, Jalan Molek, 1/30, Taman Molek, 81100 Johor Bahru.
Contact: +6011-2670 8379
Time: 11am – 7pm (Closed on Thursday)
NO PORK, NO LARD