Sunday, May 26, 2024
HomeCultureLife in the espresso lane

Life in the espresso lane

Rob is proud to wear a t-shirt emblazoned with the words: “Hard as a rock, trained at The Block.” The design was co-created by Redfern Police Area Commander Superintendent Luke Freudenstein with Indigenous leaders Shane Phillips, Mark Spinks and Mick Mundine to promote the Clean Slate Without Prejudice program. “Through conversations with some of the prominent local leaders and those participating in the program, I’ve come to understand it has helped transform the lives of many Indigenous young people,” Rob says.

Social-Laneway Espresso is situated opposite Redfern railway station, just below Club Redfern. The espresso bar is an expression of a wider passion for people and culture, style, good food and social justice (the Social-Laneway Espresso Facebook page is updated daily).

It’s evident that Rob and Marina love what they do. Customers are greeted by name with hearty handshakes and warm smiles. Introductions are exchanged. “Wherever you go, you network in that neighbourhood,” Rob says, “that’s something that really motivates us – bringing people together, understanding differences and celebrating community as something that unites. I was quite a shy person when I was younger which helped me to relate to all kinds of people from very diverse backgrounds and socio-economic groups.”

Rob’s life story includes 18 years in a London orphanage, playing for the English basketball team, dancing and managing nightclubs (one of which was voted Top 10 in the World House Music Awards 2003/4). Marina grew up in Jakarta before moving to Melbourne for a couple of years. She has worked in the hospitality industry and in luxury fashion, culminating in a buying role for major retailers in Brisbane and Sydney. Rob says: “It’s stressful sometimes, running a business, but it’s a different kind of stress when it’s your own vision. We love to work on this, we love spending time together and our different skills really complement one another.”

The social ethic of the business is reflected in the clean design and cozy fit-out, as well as an affordable and nutritious menu. “We use recycled timbers and warm lighting, plants and flowers … and everything on the menu is under ten dollars,” Marina says. “It’s all about creating a healthy space. I’ve searched out simple foods, too – quality pies and tasty rolls.” Marina’s fresh salads, such as the Kale and Honey-roasted Pumpkin, are proving very popular with locals, and Social-Laneway Espresso’s own coffee blend is something special.

Barista, Christian, is kept busy at the espresso machine. As a service to patrons rushing for connecting buses or trains, Social-Laneway is set to introduce a new Beat The Q App ( which will allow customers to order and pay for coffees en-route to the cafe.

Social-Laneway is keen to support the local community by way of the arts and community activities. A dedicated space at the cafe currently sees works on display by Wiradjuri artist James P. Simon. James grew up in South Sydney. He has an impressive resume that includes an extensive list of group and solo exhibitions, commissions and publications. Proceeds of sales will help support a selection of local charities.




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