South Melbourne squeezes in another fine purveyor of caffeine
Barista and roaster Kris Wood (ex St Ali, Proud Mary) tipped his hat to religion when naming his first venture. Namesake Pope Clement VIII may have been a 16th century gout-ridden anti-Semitic, but legend has it that his official nod to the devil's bean led to the prolific consumption of caffeine we enjoy today. God bless.
Occupying South Melbourne Market's former electrical substation like some kind of reverse TARDIS (big on the outside and small on the inside) a venue this teeny has no room for chairs. Be cool and lean against wee marble benches, just the right size for latte resting. The religious theme continues with a custom made aqua blue stained glass porthole, reflected in shape and theme along the walls and ceiling. Hang tight for spring trading as outdoor seating is on the way.
The magic happens on a spank-worthy Spirit Triplette espresso machine. It's the size of a small car; sleek, shiny and mean lookin'. There's no surprise its Dutch designer has a keen interest in motorcycles too.
There usually are two varieties on offer daily, some roasted by Wood himself, others from friends like Market Lane and they've all got cool names. Pony blend is named for his pal Sasha Strickland who operates cycle-pimping outfit Pony Bikes, or how about a Boa Vista or a Fazenda Lagoa? Brilliant. A short black is thick, zippy and restrained; milk coffees get the organic Schultz treatment. They also have full-fat Coke but we reckon that's more for the staff than the customers.
There's no menu. For eats, grab a sweet snack from the hexagonal cabinet up front where treats from Dench Bakery like cupcakes and gingerbread persons hit the spot. More deliciousness is on the way too. The café team who recently sold Three Bags Full to open Two Birds One Stone in South Yarra are also about to open a commercial bakery.
Little Clement might only be a newbie, but we're guessing when word gets out there'll be a line down the street to rival that famous dim sim shop next door. And that's saying something.