Clark St Coffee has designed an open and immersive coffee experience at its Richmond roastery.
Clark St Coffee Roasters operates an espresso bar on Crown Street in Richmond, Victoria that’s more coffee lab than café. The fit out, designed by architect Dion Hall, makes good use of galvanised steel, taking inspiration from the materials used in the roasting facility.
“By drawing these materials into the customer space, a clear connection and relationship between both [the bar and roastery] is formed,” Dion says.
“[Clark St Founder Melissa Floreani] and I never refer to the venue as a café. It is a hybrid of a roastery, educational space, coffee testing lab, and training centre that opens its doors to the general public for the simple pleasure of consuming coffee.”
Melissa says Clark St contrasts this cold steel backdrop with saddled leather seating on its bleachers, timber serving trays from wood maker Hugh Makin, and ceramic pottery made using coffee chaff from Melbourne artist Shari Lowndes.
“All of the touch points for customers, have a warmth to them,” Melissa says. “We wanted to create an almost cellar-door experience. It invites people to behave differently because it’s so open. They’re encouraged to look around and observe the space.”
Customers can watch coffee be roasted through the glass panelling that separates the bar from the roastery. Melissa says the audience almost forgets the glass goes both ways.
“There’s a sense of voyeurism to it. You can stand at the window, look through it, and feel like the roasting team can’t see you watching on the other side,” she says.
“We see people make the journey here specifically for the coffee and to enjoy the space. A lot of them order pour over, because they’re well educated coffee drinkers and are seeking out places that strive for excellence in their coffee.”
However, visitors can do more than just watch the action. The espresso bar includes full access to a training station and cupping table, where Clark St operates its own quality control processes.
“People will watch our quality control happen throughout the week, become interested, and come in for a cupping themselves. Every second Saturday, we run a public cupping or masterclass in coffee extraction here at the bar,” Melissa says.
“It’s such a versatile space. We talk to a number of green coffee importers and producers and offer to host their events here. It’s amazing how many have taken us up on that already.”
The openness of the venue is shared with Clark St’s wholesale customers, who benefit from unencumbered access to the workings of the roastery. New cafés are also able to have their equipment calibrated and staff trained onsite prior to opening.
“Our customers are very well educated in coffee. They’re looking for a high-end coffee solution for their cafés because they’re putting so much effort into their food and fitout, and the coffee needs to match,” Melissa says.
“We walk them through the roastery, so they know what coffee we’re using, the producers who supply our coffee, and can truly understand our process. That gives them a lot of confidence in the quality of the coffee.”
Melissa says transparency is a core value of Clark St Coffee and the Crown Street coffee lab embodies this.
“The space works well for us because the bar and transparency provide a high level of quality control. That feedback loops back through to the roastery,” she says.
“Clark St Coffee and this space have been designed to share the parts of coffee that we love.”
For more information, visit www.clarkst.coffee or call (03) 9428 3229