New owners of Coffee Art Cafe Stephen James and wife Tran Thi Lan Phuong have brought a Vietnamese flavour to Maclean.
New owners of Coffee Art Cafe Stephen James and wife Tran Thi Lan Phuong have brought a Vietnamese flavour to Maclean. Jenna Thompson

Vietnamese flavours tantalising Maclean tastebuds

WHEN Stephen James and wife Tran Thi Lan Phuong took over the reins of Coffee Art Cafe Maclean in July last year, they had never heard of the Clarence Valley.

"We never knew it existed!" Mr James laughed.

"We simply found this place by chance and bought it.

"It's a beautiful area and we've met so many lovely people."

For the past 13 years Mr James and his family lived in Vietnam.

"I was a principal of a couple of international schools while my wife worked as a chef," he said.

"When it came time to retire, we wanted to return to Australia, but never wanted to move to a city so Maclean was perfect."

Within a few weeks of landing, the pair took over Coffee Art Cafe and, despite a few initial hiccups, have had a positive response from customers since introducing an authentic Vietnamese flavour onto the menu.

"Pho (pronounced 'fur') is a dish that is becoming increasingly popular," Mr James said.

"But at the same time we still have a wide variety of Australian dishes to suit almost everybody in addition to the same coffee patrons loved from the previous owners."

Mr James said there were plans for later operating hours to cater to those wanting a coffee or food in the evening.

"We have big plans to transform this place into a restaurant, so stay tuned," he said.