On Wednesday February 26, Merlo Coffee will mark another major milestone in what is already a history indelibly intertwined in Queensland’s culinary coming of age. The family who introduced Queensland to its first espresso machine in the 1950s will welcome their newest arrivals – a brand new Brambati Roaster direct from Italy, and a custom-designed Cupping Room.
At Merlo’s Bowen Hills Torrefazione (roasting house), the huge, gleaming blue and white Brambati Roaster now sits behind the new Cupping Room a carefully designed, fully glassed-in room which will seat 12 at a long table, dedicated to sampling single-origin beans. One of the only of its types in the city and a room designed to appreciate coffee.
Next Wednesday at 6pm, Merlo Coffee’s Parish Priest in Father Leo Coote will officially welcome the Roaster, and the Cupping Room, by way of a very traditional Italian Christening!
About the journey: last year, Merlo roasters traveled to the tiny Italian town of Codevilla in the Lombardy region. Home to only 955 people, and often overshadowed by the much more famous Milan close by, Codevilla is famous for making the best coffee roaster in the world – the Brambati. Hence their journey.
Their Roasters spent time with the Brambati Roasters learning their secrets, in true Italian style. On the flight to Australia, the Brambati Roaster was carefully wrapped and packed and accompanied by several Italian men from Codevilla to ensure its safe journey. Such is their passion.
They stayed with Merlo for several weeks to ensure the Brambati roasted beans to the famous Merlo flavour profile.
Dean Merlo said the new roaster would ensure the fine turning of flavours, for which Merlo is famous, continues with increased capacity; while the Cupping Room would bring the origins and science of coffee even closer for customers.
“The new Brambati roaster is the latest engineering masterpiece to come from the Brambati factory in Codevilla, Italy. The roaster has the very latest design features which enable us to recycle heat from the burner through the afterburner and back again, allowing for a more efficient roast. We love the fact that it uses 100% recycled air at the beginning of the roast but finishes the roast with 100% fresh air for a sweeter finish.
“It’s incredible how we can control so many more variables in each roast, such as even heat distribution, drum speed, air flow, temperature control throughout the entire roasting cycle which can deliver the uniquely slow deep roasted profile that Merlo has delivered for the last 21 years, but with amazing control, which means complete consistency.
He said the compactor also compacts all of the chaff from the bean roasting into pallets, perfect for the garden and in-demand.
“We have been working on the Cupping Room for a long time. With the demand for our Coffee Appreciation Sessions increasing all the time, we saw it as absolutely necessary, in order to give our customers the very best learning and tasting experience. A dedicated room was needed,” he said.
Coffee is in the Merlo family DNA. Grandfather Luigi Merlo operated a trattoria next to a bocce court in his home town of Tirano in Italy. His son Gino was a budding adventurer and when he migrated to Australia in the 1950s, he bought with him Queensland’s first Italian espresso machine – in doing so he started Queensland’s coffee revolution.
Gino opened the famous Milano’s in Queen Street. Long before the idea of ‘celebrity chefs’ or the concept of taking a photo of a dish before eating it, Milano’s was simply Brisbane’s most famed restaurant. Gino, with Dean working the floor between university classes, served everyone, from Pope John Paul II to the Queen.
In 1991, Dean decided to open his own cafe “at the wrong end of Queen Street” and the rest is history. He changed the way Brisbane dined – after a phone call to the then Brisbane City Councillor David Hinchliffe in 1993, Brisbane’s sidewalks were opened up, and people could sit and sip there coffee and watch the world go by. Finally!
Today Merlo Coffee has six Torrefaziones, eight BarMerlos and can be found in over 1000 distinguished cafes and restaurants across Australia.
For more information visit www.merlo.com.au.