The delicious aromas wafting out onto the street and queues of regular customers make it hard to imagine now, but until 2013, Clement Coffee‘s stall was one of the Market’s storage rooms. Manager and barista Robert Chiovitti isn’t fazed by the small size of the cafe, though. In fact, he says the “no-fuss, hole-in-the-wall” vibe is what attracted him to the space in the first place, and one of the reasons customers love Clement.
Rob had been working in hospitality running venues and bars for more than a decade and was with Melbourne specialty coffee pioneer St Ali when the Third Wave Coffee movement started taking hold. When the opportunity to transform an underused space at the Market presented itself, the St Ali team jumped at the chance, and Clement was born – with Rob at the helm. From an Italian background “where food, coffee and hospitality are part of life”, he loves the old-school atmosphere at the Market where “everyone knows each other”. Even from the start, he saw the size of the stall as an advantage rather than a limitation. “There’s no kitchen, so it allows us to hone in on the coffee,” Rob explains.
While the small space means that the beans need to be roasted off site, the lack of a kitchen doesn’t stop Clement from serving around 900 coffees a day on weekends, with locals, regulars and market goers all dropping in to say hi to Rob (who can usually be spotted wearing his trademark cap). Alternatives to dairy such as Oatly oat milk cater to customers with various dietary requirements, and there is a range of sweet somethings to accompany their brews – pastries from Gontran Cherrier, cookies from Windsor Deli and on the weekends, donuts from Doughboys. Customers can also buy bags of beans to take home. Rob says it’s this simple, focused offer that keeps people coming back. “We do two things really well at Clement: coffee and service.”