Within the competition circuit, Merryn Ward is a familiar name.
She is a two-time Queensland Cup Tasters Champion and third-place winner in the 2015 Australian Cup Tasters Championship. But when she’s not slurping coffee to the roar of a crowd or a ticking clock, Merryn is behind the coffee machine with husband Steve at Woodman’s Axe Espresso in Mackay.
“We love the industry as a whole, the people in it, the product and the impact it has on so many people,” Steve says.
For the past 14 years Merryn and Steve have been sharing their passion and love of the bean with the east coast of Queensland. They ran two Gloria Jean’s franchises in Mackay for 10 years, then opened Woodman’s Axe espresso bar, which has been delighting coffee locals for almost four years. In an exciting new venture, Merryn and Steve are getting ready to open a new Woodman’s Axe Espresso store in Brisbane this June.
“We’ve taken over the lease for the former Grindhouse Espresso. We decided to move back south and we’re excited to open a few stores around inner Brisbane. So it’s going to be a busy few months but we’re excited,” Merryn says. “The thought of specialty coffee tends to frighten a lot of people but we want to show people that it’s just about loving good coffee. Education, customer service, and demonstrating to lots of people what quality coffee is all about.”
Woodman’s Axe has recently swapped its beans over to Axil Coffee Roasters after putting a call out to customers to ‘pick their favourite bean’. “Over a few weeks we rotated about 10 different roasters to see what people liked, we took feedback, but the overriding favourite was in favour of Axil. There aren’t many cafés that would leave the decision up their customers, but we trust ours,” Steve says.
The house blend is a seasonal blend developed especially for Woodman’s Axe Espresso.
“It has chocolate and caramel tones that goes great with both milk-based and black coffee. We also run rotating single origins. We just had a Dumerso from Ethiopian and it was amazing. Our favourite pick of the last six to eight weeks,” Steve says.
Merryn and Steve are excited to introduce Woodman’s Axe to Brisbane, but it doesn’t look like Merryn’s competitive streak is dying any time soon.
“I can’t keep Merryn away. She’s determined to win the national title one year,” Steve says.