“So the creators of St Ali, Brother Baba Budan and Seven Seeds opened a new cafe, De Clieu, and they didn’t fuck it up” — was my short-attention-span-generation review of De Clieu for Ms G.
Now while my ‘review’ above is a little short, and perhaps a tad profane, it pretty much sums up De Clieu for me. Legends of the Melbourne coffee scene have opened a new place, and as with all the previous iterations, they’ve executed it beautifully — friendly and knowledgeable wait staff, great food and of course, fantastic coffee. Tick, tick, tick.
I was at a loose end while Ms G was at yoga and it was suggested that I pop in to De Clieu. I’d grab a coffee (or two) and then G and I would hit up Auction Rooms for some mad ‘pork knucklage’ (but more on that in a later post). Perfect.
Scanning the oh-so-pretty menus for the smallest looking dish I settled upon the buckwheat and rice muesli. Damn it was good – puffy soft rice, chocolatey crunch of hazelnuts, bitey zing of dehydrated apple, strawberry and orange, creaminess of the yoghurt and the sweetness of strawberry jam.
I’d need an equally impressive coffee to go with my nom breakfast. The more I latte sip, the more I try to expand my coffee horizons, trying more exotic blends and more esoteric brewing methods. Today would be no exception, selecting the Guatemalan Cup of Excellence in the French press.
Now, I realise there is nothing fancy or new about the French press, except perhaps in an old-is-new-again kind of way. In fact, for me the French press (or plunger coffee) is distinctly unsexy — years of my father drinking plunger Lavazza gave me, quite literally, a bad taste for the French press. Fast forward to 2010, and the overlords of the lactose-intolerant-skinny-jean-wearing-coffee-sipping hipsters, Seven Seeds, have deemed the French press cool again. Well, if it’s good enough for those wacky hipsters, then it’s good enough for me. Subtle, tea-like in body, slightly fruity. Really quite delicious, and very much like a pour-over, which is unsurprising given both methods ‘steep’ the coffee in hot water. My father had it right drinking it black back then as such a light-bodied coffee shouldn’t be messed with by adding milk as it completely overpowers the subtle flavours. If only Dad hadn’t used Lavazza! On a previous excursion to De Clieu, Ms G had a similar enlightenment. From the way she describes the experience I suspect there were angels singing, trumpets blazing and soft cheeses and cured meats being distributed.
I shall forever have a soft spot for De Clieu in my heart because it is the place where upon having Ethiopian Nekisse through the French press, I was able to smell and taste the blueberry. A true coffee epiphany moment. To top it off, I gleefully shared my experience with the staff and instead of acting like they’d just been assaulted by some silly girl, they shared in my joy and enthusiasm. Much love.
Following the French press I had a similarly delicious long black with an unnamed single-origin. I was buzzing.
De Clieu is a beautiful venue, and like its larger brother Seven Seeds there’s whispers of design awards with a minimal and uncluttered layout. Unfortunately, as they say, strengths are sometimes weaknesses and seating is in short supply, so get there early. While you’re there grab a French press – they’re not nearly as daggy as you remember.