Clark Street Coffee owner Melissa Floreani’s love of coffee stems from her childhood and her Italian heritage.
“Everyone was always drinking coffee. It always smelled so good to me,” she says. “I remember thinking at that time, ‘This is something I really love.’”
With more than 20 years’ experience in the industry, Floreani says she’s seen a lot of changes since she first came to Melbourne from Adelaide to work with Lavazza.
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“[Back then] it was all about brands and the Italian side of coffee,” she explains. “Then moving from there to understanding what specialty coffee is about. And now it’s all about relationships, and knowledge, and science, and the connection with what we’re doing and the growers, the producers and how they’re processing coffee.”
To deeper forge this connection, Floreani and the team decided to open up their wholesale coffee-roasting warehouse to the public.
“We’ve got to a point where we’ve wanted to share that hard work and passion for coffee,” she says.
Designed by Projects of Imagination, the spacious public bar, cupping lab and barista training area is separated from the warehouse by large windows. Two-tier, bleacher-style metal seating topped with saddle-leather cushions encourages viewing of the warehouse operations.
“It’s a bit voyeuristic,” Floreani says. “People sit there and really do watch what the boys and girls are doing out in the roaster, and I think it’s a really nice connection that you get.”
The industrial space is heavy in galvanised steel and polished concrete surfaces, but terracotta pots (by Melbourne-based ceramicist Shari Lowndes), greenery and walnut timber serving trays (by woodworker Hugh Makin) add warmth.
“[The public bar] definitely references the materials you would find from more of the agricultural part of the business,” says Floreani.
The roastery, which was first born in Clark Street, Richmond, has since moved to Crown Street to increase the size of operations. A larger roaster is now used for commercial blends sold to cafes and restaurants (including St Martins and Duke of Kerr), and a five-kilogram D-drip for all the single origin, espresso and filter roasts.
The team also uses Cropster – roast profiling software that allows businesses to log the flavour profile of different blends and roasts.
“We can achieve a lot of consistency that way,” Floreani says. “Our main focus is to use [the] highest quality coffee as possible but also to highlight the sweetness of coffee. Coffee naturally has a sweetness to it, so we just find the point where the coffee is at its sweetest and then it showcases all of the other characteristics.”
You’ll find more sweet treats from Phillippa’s Bakery and Caulfield’s Arboretum Kitchen and Pantry.
Clark Street also runs weekend cupping classes, showcasing the coffee that the team has been working on each week. These classes are categorised by location (coffee made from beans grown at the same farm) and characteristic (such as washed coffee).
Floreani says that while the specialty coffee movement is great for connecting drinkers with growers and processes, traditional espresso still holds a place in her heart.
“We still have to give a nod to the Italians who came and brought that culture here.”
Clark Street Coffee Roasters
73 Crown Street, Richmond
(03) 9428 3229
Mon to Fri 7.30am–3pm