In a city that’s obsessed with coffee, Clark St Coffee Roasters in Melbourne’s inner suburbs stands out as a favourite for coffee connoisseurs. The cellar-door style roastery gives espresso enthusiasts the opportunity to drop by and chat to the in-store barista about the blend of the day, while bleacher-style benches allow them to observe the roasting process first-hand.
It comes as no surprise that Clark St Coffee’s founder is Italian, just as passionate about the process and ritual of making coffee as the contents of the cup. Melissa Floreani’s first memories of coffee stem from her grandfather and his friends, who would often gather in her lounge room over espresso and cigarettes. From as early as she can remember, she would steal sips from his demitasse and pretend she was a café patron.
Flash forward a few decades and Melissa is revolutionising Melbourne’s coffee industry. In addition to Clark St Coffee she also founded Espresso Syndicate, a roasting and distributing business that focuses on environmental, social and economic sustainability. Espresso Syndicate also has its own café, Parker Coffee and Food which uses completely compostable coffee cups and packaging.
“Our focus is on reducing waste, which is particularly rampant in the coffee industry, and creating meaningful, long-lasting relationships with our suppliers. Using fair and eco-friendly methods to source and deliver our products results in a premium quality, less processed cup of coffee. It’s better for the environment, the community and the consumer – you can really taste the difference when time and care has been spent on getting the process right.”
With all the time and resources she spends on getting the coffee just right, Melissa needs the best quality equipment as well. The public coffee bar is completely fitted out in machinery through SilverChef, a move which she says aligns with her sustainable approach and helped her grow her business.
“Using SilverChef means we can always ensure our coffee equipment is up to scratch. If a new model comes out and we want to upgrade, we have the flexibility to swap out the machines we already have. We’re always ahead of the curve, and from a sustainability perspective being able to swap the equipment means we aren’t always buying new machines and disposing of old ones.”
“Financially as well it’s been a huge help; we simply include it as a weekly expense which can then be claimed through tax, and the equipment can also be used on a rent-to-buy basis which makes things more manageable if we want to purchase something without a big upfront cost. Because of that, we’ve been able to expand our business much quicker.”
Melissa’s desire to use only the best quality equipment also extends to the cafes she works with, many of whom she has supplied with premium coffee machines.
“Consumers are getting increasingly savvy about their coffee – now it’s not just about the beans or the barista, they’ll actually look at the machine and make a decision based on that.”
"Not all coffee machines are created equal and it can make a huge difference to the quality of the coffee.”
Melissa hopes to continue expanding the business and encouraging Melbourne’s myriad cafes to take a more sustainable approach to coffee production and distribution.