On the Cecil Street side of the infamous South Melbourne Market—the oldest continuing market operating in Melbourne—a little wooden doorway opens into a mini-wonderland of coffee called Clement Coffee Roasters. Based in what was formerly the electrical substation of the market, Clement is the compact but charismatic brainchild of Kris Wood.
Mr. Wood has quite a pedigree and reputation in specialty coffee in Melbourne. Having started at St Ali in 2008, he then moved on to manage the bar and roastery at Proud Mary Coffee two years later (with some travel to the US in-between). Mr. Wood has dreamt of opening a café for 9 years; when the opportunity arose in early 2012 to open a café in the unique South Melbourne market space, Kris couldn’t refuse.
Clement was designed in collaboration with Jen Lowe of Barbara & Fellows design firm. The space is, in my opinion, a wonderfully delicate blend of masculinity and femininity, from the beautifully painted walls and the light-grain wood benches to the dark leather aprons (made by Tettman Doust) and the black Kees Van Der Westen Spirit espresso machine.
After initially starting with coffee roasted by Melbourne stalwarts such as Market Lane Coffee and Small Batch, Clement soon moved onto roasting their own coffee off-site at the nearby St Ali roastworks. Their green coffee is sourced from Melbourne Coffee Merchants, Silo, and Sensory Lab. There’s a community feel to Clement’s espresso blends, with creations like the Pony Blend (in collaboration with Pony Bikes in North Melbourne), and The Beaufort Blend (named after The Beaufort, one of the best bars in this fair town in this publication's humble opinion).
Mr. Wood's original objective with Clement was to offer people a choice, and to get them thinking about coffee as more than just the latte in their hand. It's safe to say he’s achieved this goal, with a seasonal and frequently rotating range of high quality espresso and filter coffee on offer in the café and retail coffee available for home. International shipping soon to come on their website; Clement’s customers in Melbourne and elsewhere are spoilt for choice.
In-store, these well-curated coffees (including several single origin offerings) are pulled from the aforementioned Kees Van Der Westen Spirit, with the help of two Mazzer Robur Autos, as well as a lot of love from the dedicated Clement team. There are two espresso offerings and two filter offerings per day, with the tasty filter coffees being brewed through V60s using Marco brand grinders and boilers.
But it's worth mentioning that Clement, with all its dazzling gear, manages to be the rare Melbourne venues that balances the hallmarks of a super-nerdy specialty coffee set-up—filter brewing, bag labels displaying variety and farm, incredibly enthusiastic baristas—with a genuine and sincere customer experience. Food offerings are simple but delicious, with a range of Willy Wonka-esque delights from Matt Forbes (think chocolate & sea salt cookies), and impossibly flaky pastries from Kate at the much sought after Lune Croissanterie (weekdays only). There's no egg on toast offered here; the Clement space is tiny, echoing similarly small specialty cafes like Third Rail in New York City or the original Vivace coffee cart in Seattle.
Kris Wood's future goals are ambitious. With his wholesale business growing steadily, he hopes to eventually open his very own roastery space, as well as a few more cafes. And honestly, if Clement is anything to go by, we’re pretty excited to see what happens next.
Clement Coffee Roasters is located at Stall 89, 116-136 Cecil St, South Melbourne, with hours from 7am-5pm daily.
Eileen P. Kenny (@EileenPK) is a staff writer for Sprudge.com, based in Melbourne. She is the publisher of Birds of Unusual Vitality, specialty coffee's premiere interview web magazine, and a working barista at Market Lane Coffee.
More gorgeous photos from Clement, shot by Eileen Kenny, are available here on Sprudge.com's Facebook.