Taking its name from the Latin word for “to care” or “to be warm”, Calēre Coffee in Fitzroy aims to bring a sense of warmness and hospitality back to the coffee scene.
“We are very lucky in Melbourne nowadays. Cafés are busy and many do a high volume of coffee, but this also means they don’t always have time to sit down with the customer and have a conversation with them about the coffee,” Owner Alicia Feng says.
Calēre Coffee shares its space with Gaea, a fine dining restaurant that Alicia’s partner Mo Zhou operates. Through both venues, Alicia hopes to promote an increased appreciation for coffee.
“My background is in fine dining, and as I became more interested in coffee, I realised it was being neglected in that space. At the end of the night, customers would be offered tea or coffee, but there was never any choice of single origins, or filter or espresso,” Alicia says. “At Gaea, we offer these options and try to use coffee as an ingredient throughout the courses.”
On the Calēre side, the menu of filter and espresso-based coffee is made approachable thanks to an array of descriptor cards displayed on the bench. Ona Coffee’s The Founder and Raspberry Candy blends are staples for milk coffee, and are joined by a collection of rotating single origins and premium coffees.
“There will always be one washed and one natural processed coffee on the bar. I’ve found that a lot of people who are interested in coffee don’t actually know about processing methods and the differences between them,” Alicia says.
“It’s been a fun adventure to see what different processes people like, and it’s a pleasure to guide them across different types of coffee.”
Espresso-based coffee is prepared with a San Remo Cafe Racer and Mahlkönig EK43 grinder, but Calēre places emphasis on filter coffee – batch brew in particular.
“Our philosophy is that batch is more consistent and it lets us share more of our high-end coffee. In a lot of cafés, filter and pour over are priced high because it’s labour intensive. From a business side, batch is less costly and for the customer, it’s more approachable,” Alicia says.
“At the moment, we’re serving Indigo, the coffee Devin Loong used in the [2020 Southern Region Brewers Cup] as batch or cold brew at an approachable price, so everyone gets a chance to try a competition level coffee.”
Calēre’s filter focus has seen the small café connect with the artists, designers, shop owners, and coffee lovers living in Fitzroy and its surrounding suburbs.
“Our customers are not so much pedestrians walking past, but people who seek us out as a coffee destination,” Alicia says. “We’re quite small, so people can strike up conversations with those sitting next to them. It has become a little coffee community.
“It feels like I’ve delivered what I set out to with Calēre – bring out the warmth and connection between people.”
166 Gertrude Street,
Fitzroy, Victoria, 3065
Open Monday to Friday 7am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday 8am to 5pm