Walking through the door it’s the heady aroma of roasting coffee beans that hits you first. The large green roaster in the corner is working its magic. Then you spot the stylish subway tiled walls are lined with coffee paraphernalia and gadgetry. You know this is not so much secret but authentic ‘coffee business’ happening here. This is just the latest version of Merlo Coffee’s original Torrefazione or ‘Italian Roasting House’.
There are now 15 Merlo Torrefaziones throughout Australia. Merlo Coffee is Australia’s largest independently owned and operated coffee roaster. The family owned company (headquartered in the Sunshine State’s capital) with 15 of its own stores also supplies coffee to over 1,000 cafes across the country.
The story begins in Australia in 1951 when Gino, Luciano and Gian Luigi Merlo arrived with their mother Maria to join Dad, Luigi in the Lucky Country. After cane farming and running a boarding house in South Brisbane, the Merlos returned to the family business – hospitality. They opened Milano restaurant in Queen St, Brisbane and imported the Sunshine State’s first espresso machine (probably a San Marco). That’s when Queenslander’s obsession with coffee began.
Twenty five years ago, Gino’s son Dean opened his first cafe. Five years later he started roasting coffee beans at his first Torrefazione. Fast forward to February 10, 2016, Merlo Coffee took the proverbial coals to Newcastle and opened a Torrefazione in Melbourne’s historic Vic Markets. The high-grade Private Blend in the ubiquitous blue coffee cups is now part of Melbourne’s highly competitive caffeine scene.
“This is a major line-in-the-sand for Merlo. While we have a family of wonderful wholesalers in Melbourne (coffee outlets that proudly use Merlo beans), to this point we hadn’t roasted in the southern capital. After years of planning, our long-term vision is a reality … we will be roasting beans all day, every day, ensuring our commitment to freshness and authenticity is delivered in Melbourne,” said Dean Merlo.
“We had been wanting to roast in Melbourne for quite a few years now, the problem was finding a location that would suit – and the Queen Victoria Markets just on the edge of the CBD is perfect. The wait was certainly worth it.”
Just last week, Dean and his CEO James Wilkinson officially launched the refurbished McLachlan Street roasting house with Espresso martinis to the Caffè-loving crowd. With Aussies consuming over 2.9kg per capita annually it seems this is just the start of many more happy years for Merlo Coffee.
Disclaimer: TML were guests of Merlo Coffee at the official launch of the McLachlan Street Torrefazione.