Merlo Coffee relaunches its Bowen Hills roastery

Merlo Coffee

Merlo Coffee Founder Dean Merlo details the renovations of Merlo-owned stores, including a multi-million-dollar refurbishment of its Bowen Hills café and roastery.

For those seeking the freshest coffee beans and espresso in Brisbane’s inner north, Merlo Coffee Founder Dean Merlo says customers should stop by the newly revamped Bowen Hills roastery and café.

“After operating cafés across the greater Queensland landscape for more than 30 years, Merlo Coffee are certainly not resting on our laurels. We are continuing to invest back into our cafés for the local communities that continue to support us,” Dean says.

“This year alone we have refurbished three of our 16 Merlo stores, including a multi-million-dollar overhaul of our Bowen Hills roastery and café.”

The reopening of Bowen Hills Torrefazione (Italian for roasting house) includes a complete transformation of the café footprint, expanding it to now accommodate 80 seated customers.

“A hydroponic herb garden sits as the centrepiece of the café, book ended by two olive trees that are interchanged with a further two outside the building on a fortnightly basis,” says Dean.

Visitors will also get a unique front-row seat to the coffee roastery’s operations.

“A hopper-fed bean shoot transports fresh roasted coffee beans directly from the 360-kilogram roaster that sits beyond the glass windows of the café, directly to the espresso machines inside. This automated system snakes along the ceiling through the café, carrying the beans in a transparent glass tube and entertaining patrons as they dine in the café,” says Dean.

“Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the fascinating coffee roasting process from start to finish. We take pride in roasting all our signature blends, single origins, and limited-edition coffees right on-site, and you can conveniently purchase them in-store.”

Dean says a full commercial kitchen allows for on-site restaurant meals and catering.

“We have an extended takeaway and fully licensed dine-in menu where you can enjoy scrumptious breakfasts and mouth- watering lunches. Our talented chefs have meticulously crafted an Italian-inspired menu that celebrates the rich flavours and traditions of the Mediterranean,” he says.

“The menu features a variety of options to suit every palate, from French toast lightly coated in our special chai blend, to hearty eggs benedict. Our breakfast menu is designed to satisfy your morning cravings. Whether you’re in the mood for a classic pasta dish, a delicious salad, or a decadent burger, there is something to suit all tastes.”

The café features fully imported Italian furniture and finishings, as well as artwork from Wallace Piatt of Rodeo Gallery in California, United States.

“I met Wallace when I was living in the States. He was exhibiting a gallery in Northern California, and I loved his work. We stayed in contact, and when we started the renovations on Bowen Hills, I knew we had the perfect sized wall for his artwork. We also have a painting of his on display at our café in the University of Queensland,” Dean says.

Upstairs, there is a dedicated cupping room and new boardroom that can be hired by local businesses looking for corporate or team workspaces.

Dean says the expansion plans at Bowen Hills haven’t stopped yet, with talks underway for opportunities within the warehouse space outside the café glass walls for adjacent operations that will complement the space.

“We’re looking at potentially putting in a bakery next to the café. Imagine coming in for your weekend coffee and watching fresh bread being baked and fresh coffee being roasted. What a perfect combination,” he says.

Merlo Coffee has plans in place to renovate three more locations this year, with another four stores earmarked for refurbishment in early 2024.

“We want to make a statement that we’re proud of our brand,” says Dean.

In addition to the refurbishment plans for existing cafés, Merlo Coffee is constantly on the lookout for new sites, particularly drive-thru locations, tapping into the convenience this model offers the modern-day consumer.

“Barista-made coffee is so prevalent in Australia. I think we’re really fortunate in this country to have a really high calibre of coffee consumers who expect good coffee no matter where they are, which includes being on the road and getting it at the same place as your fuel,” Dean says.

“We’re always entertaining new sites and we’re in the mood to expand. We like to think we’re buoyant in the market. Stay tuned for what’s to come.”

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This article appears in the December 2023 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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