Cafe case study: Mörk, Australia – Melbourne

Modbar - 06.22.23

This post is another in our Cafe Case Study series. We interview cafe owners to learn about the vision behind their space and then ask them a bit about the equipment they chose and why they made that decision.

Use these case studies as inspiration for your own cafe dreams or simply to get a behind-the-scenes look at some beautiful cafe spaces around the world.

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The Details:

Mörk in Melbourne. As told by the founders Kiril and Josefin.

Why did you open a cafe and how would you describe your brand?

Josefin and I, are chocolate makers with a background in both chocolate and coffee, in Australia and Sweden. As North Melbourne residents we always frequented Queen Victoria Market. For years we would walk past the corner shop and we would say to each other, what if we could give this shop its glory back, so beautifully located in one of the most iconic locations in Melbourne. Mörk began its story as a specialty hot chocolate maker with us, husband and wife, a family based in North Melbourne. It started with a bold ambition to ensure that Melbourne’s best cafes served a proper cup of dark hot chocolate alongside its fine coffee, in a time when sugar remained the main flavour of the hot chocolates in cafes. A small chocolate brew house was then opened, serving nothing but drinking chocolate on the menu.
We opened Mörk Chocolate at Queen Victoria Market Dairy Produce Hall in the middle of a building havoc we moved in to bring glory back to the old cake shop.  People travel from far and wide for a unique experience, and for many it was the drawcard of campfire hot chocolate, that enticed. A drink that brings nostalgia and pause with simple means of wood fire smoke, torched marshmallow, charcoal salt and pure dark chocolate. The scent and flavours nods to childhood memories by the campfire. With Swedish background, we naturally had to develop the perfect cinnamon bun to go on the side of the hot chocolate, an ended up starting a sister business to supply the city’s cafes with high quality cakes and buns, using the chocolate we make from bean to bar.

Mörk celebrated 11 years this year, with three stores in Melbourne, and cacao roastery and chocolate foundry and operations in UK and Japan.

Can you tell us a bit about the location/demographics of the area where you opened. Why did you choose this area? 

Growing the brand the dream was still to have a shop in Queen Victoria Market one day. Little did we know we would get the chance to be housed in the iconic and heritage rich Dairy Produce Hall. Late last year, after finishing building our small Cacao Roastery and Chocolate Foundry in North Melbourne, we finally got the chance we had waited 10 years for.
The store hadn’t seen renovations for decades when the concept was presented to the management team and heritage Victoria with plans to bring an authentic heritage feel and genuine retail experience back to this corner. Mörk has always been about raising the bar for what drinking chocolate can be, and should be.
With a location that is the entry for many of the markets most loyal shoppers, but that also invites every single visitor coming to Melbourne, Mörk wants to bring something unique that helps set the tone for a beautiful shopping experience at the market.
Queen Victoria Market is the largest, most concentrated trading place reserved for small independently operated businesses in Australia.
With the market sitting in the midst of a construction site that has moved and shuffled many significant stall holders from their premium spots during a build that will go for three years, the team at Mörk is hoping to bring something positive and heart warming while this market is evolving and entering the next era. Opening at the start of winter with an all hot chocolate menu and a cinnamon bun bakery on-site, this Mörk dream is turning widely real. The space has been designed by interior architect Danielle Oerman, now based in Adelaide after years of designing in Melbourne. Danielle has made the space feel seamless with the heritage of the market, with warm streaks of colour in timeless patterns, solid walnut wood and brass features, and with the original marble counters revealed after being covered by heavy glass counters for years.
The open and light air of the space enhances the building it sits in, with its beautiful windows uncovered, reaching high into the ceiling. Mörk worked with Pretty Polly Designs for the detailing of the space, from the illuminated signage and Scandinavian cinema inspired menu board, to the custom cabinet that boasts the generous cake range.

What’s on the menu?

At Mörk at the Market you will find some of the most intricate hot chocolate drinks. Australian Natives spiced chocolate made with house made roasted macadamia milk; Hazelnut Praline Chocolate topped with pure dark chocolate gratings, it just happens to be plant based too. Of course with a take along version of the much loved Campfire Hot Chocolate on the menu, and new comers like Cacao Husk Brew, a tea like drink using the discarded shell of the cacao beans roasted to make their chocolate. It is deeply satisfying and comforting like a hug on a rainy day.

Cinnamon buns are coming out fresh from the oven (any Swede can sincerely vouch for the perfection of a warm, freshly baked cinnamon bun) and sit alongside the decadent cake and biscuit range. Twice baked chocolate cake, Yuzu & pistachio bundt cake and Caramelised hazelnut cake are among the favourites. A new Swedish Kolasnitt biscuit is added to the range, with a recipe that has been handed down through generations. You can stock up on hot chocolate goods for your pantry, find gifts and morsels, as well as unique Mörk chocolate cocktails made by Loro, by Orlando Marzo, using discarded cacao husk and distilled chocolate. Proudly located in the dairy hall Mörk prepares their hot chocolate with the best quality Victorian jersey milk. But more than half of Mörk’s menu is plant based, as pure dark chocolate shines equally bright with alternative milks, or none at all.
You’ll see (ask for the 100% pure dark).

What equipment do you use to make coffee and why did you choose this equipment?

One great thing about our stores is that we don’t serve coffee. As a specialty hot chocolate company, we have a unique approach. The sleek design of the Modbar system perfectly complements our concept and we currently have one Modbar Steam module with two steam taps that we use for our warm chocolate beverages. Additionally, the Modbar unit has consistently proven its reliability and quick steam recovery, allowing us to handle high volume demands day in and day out.

Describe your bar or customer flow and how did the equipment influence the flow or viceversa.

The design of our workflow was heavily influenced by the need to accommodate high volume and demand. Our specific location experiences a significant amount of traffic, requiring us to maximise bench space. To meet the demands of our customers, we have implemented a steam module with two steam taps.

What’s one thing that makes your café special?

Watching the transformation, caring for every centimetre of this space in the process, and wishing to really honour the history of this hall, the team at Mörk hope that the visitors who remember the days when this cake shop was in its prime, will feel happy that it’s given new life again and welcome Mörk.