Merlo prepares for war

Queensland brand takes aggressive stance in market


In the middle of each year, for the past 22 years, the team at Merlo Coffee have copped flack for their iconic, instantly recognisable, blue logo.  During the rest of the year, this signature colour is applauded as an exercise in effective branding, a sign that great coffee is roasted and served within. But not in the middle of the year, for this is a time of WAR, when two tribes clash and only one can be victorious; it’s a war where colour denotes allegiance – the most competitive and formidable Rugby League clash in the world. It is State of Origin.

In this war, Queenslanders wear maroon as a tattooed confirmation of birthplace. New South Wales dons blue, the colour of the enemy.  It is for the reason that Merlo, the famed Queensland coffee roaster which began 22 years ago, will this year change colour for the State of Origin season, because enough is enough, and as the Maroons plan their 9th consecutive series win with a cracking team announced last night to be led by Captain Cameron Smith, the team at merlo is 100% behind them.

In this unprecedented, history-making move, Merlo will change all takeaway cups in their retail stores over to maroon from May 26 to July 11, the period of the three games this year (May 28, June 18 and July 9), making every single cup a Collector’s Edition.

“Merlo Coffee has been blue for 22 years, blue is in our branding DNA, it’s how we are recognised and loved in a competitive world. But we’ve had enough; every State of Origin season we have New South Wales supporters coming in, declaring Merlo a cockroach supporter, a true-blood blue, and it’s devastating to me, to our team and to everything Merlo stands for as a proud Queenslander,” he said. “We have to stamp Maroon on Merlo to answer Billy Moore’s inspirational half time call in Game 1 State of Origin 1995, to stand as tall as the King at Suncorp Stadium and state our intentions – that we are a Queenslander!”

Along with the all maroon takeaway cups in Merlo retail stores, Merlo staff in all Merlo’s stores will wear Maroon shirts, another first for the company.  While this wasn’t a difficult decision to make, it was one that required significant planning. “We decided to turn maroon last year, but given production and logistics required, we had to bide our time, just as the mighty Maroons wait for their right time to show the Blues what State of Origin football is all about!”

There are few as maroon-at-heart as Merlo. Theirs is a history indelibly intertwined in Queensland’s culinary coming of age.  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 brought 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 1992, 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, Brisbane’s sidewalks were opened up, and people could sit and sip their coffee and watch the world go by.

Today Merlo Coffee has six Torrefaziones, seven BarMerlos and can be found in over 1000 distinguished cafes and restaurants across Australia.

And from May 26 Merlo will draw a maroon line in the sand, firmly stating their allegiance to Queensland in what promises to be an epic State of Origin battle. BE PART OF IT and support our MIGHTY MAROONS – 1. Billy Slater, 2. Darius Boyd, 3. Greg Inglis, 4. Justin Hodges, 5. Brent Tate, 6. Johnathan Thurston, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Matt Scott, 9. Cameron Smith (c), 10. Nate Myles, 18. Chris McQueen, 12. Matt Gillett, 13. Corey Parker. Interchange: 14. Daly Cherry-Evans, 15. Ben Te’o, 16. Aidan Guerra, 17. Josh Papalii, 19. Will Chambers, 20. Jake Friend. Coach: Mal Meninga.

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