Little Merchants is a tiny espresso bar with big aspirations. It’s only been open one year, but this 70-square-metre venue is born into a good family pedigree.
Big sister Café Lumes and big brother Coffee Embassy are close by guidance and support.
“We’re all part of one big family so we collaborate closely together for our bean selection, single origins, and filter coffees,” Café Manager James Burt says.
Just as people would once visit a merchant to trade products from around the world, Little Merchants invites people to visit for the same worldly experience.
“We offer seasonal blends sourced from around the globe that represents the coffees we believe in, what’s tasting amazing, and what we know our customers will respond to,” James says. “We really want our customers to embrace change and not be afraid to try something different. Unfortunately for some people, change is not celebrated.”
To reverse this perception, James and his team are taking a friendly approach to customer service and interacting with visitors about how the coffee tastes and what they’d like to see in the cup.
“We’re all about information sharing. The better equipped we are and the more our customers can appreciate our craft, the better our daily interactions will be,” he says. “We really want customers to get excited about the industry so we can create a fun coffee culture.”
Little Merchants serves the Embassy Espresso blend on a La Marzocco PB. It is a 50/50 mix of El Salvador San Emilio beans and Colombian Genova Quindio beans.
Single origins at the time of print included a natural Yirgacheffe that James describes as “stunning” with hints of spice, cocoa, and pineapple when brewed. He’s also excited about a single origin from Honduras due to arrive in the New Year.
To “complement and not overwhelm” the coffee selection, Little Merchants has looked to San Francisco’s popular toast craze for inspiration.
The food offerings include a range of tasty toasted sandwiches including classic combinations such as avocado, tomato, and feta on multigrain toast, hot smoked salmon and creme fraiche, and a banana and maple brioche for something sweet.
After eight years working in the coffee industry, James says he continues to enjoy the changing nature of the job.
“I love that there’s always something to challenge what you thought you knew,” James says. “We want to keep making the best product we can from selection to execution, then make it better again.”