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Espresso obsesso

Larry’s connection with coffee is very personal in this recent article he describes obsessions. “I have a photo somewhere, from the mid-1980s, of my young wife to be sitting in Kleines Café in Vienna next to the front door with black coffee and a book, a cigarette burning in the ashtray, outside a wintery grey. My fascination with coffee began a few years before the photo with a book on Viennese coffee houses. That book began a journey that has no destination, just a journey.

Over the decades we have designed dozens of espresso bars, cafes, torrefaziones and even a plantation. I drank short blacks at every opportunity and made pilgrimages to bar coluzzi in Sydney and Pellegrini’s in Melbourne to find better coffee experiences before designing my 1st bar bar merlo in 1992. I recently sought out a coffee house in Padang, West Sumatra to have the local Civet Coffee. I was only mildly disappointed to find they had run out as they had plenty of other local small batch beans to try.

I have only just realised the extent of my obsessions when someone mentions that I hadn’t visited many vineyards and wineries in Australia. When I rattled of a dozen ranging from Tamar to Derwent, Barossa, Ad Hills, Mornington, King Valley, Heathcote, Hunter, Orange. Add this to slavishly following wine routes in Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rhone, Champagne & Alsace you start to wonder about the nature of obsession.

In my work I am naturally curious, I enjoy the research as much as the design and construction. My real long term obsession is “doing things better”. I recently read that spending 10000 hours driving won’t make you a formula 1 star, we probably all spend that long driving. However, spending 10000 pushing to improve might get you on the starting grid.

Our work over the last 25 years for merlo coffee has always been about delivering a better experience than the price of a cup of coffee would normally afford you. Each new job needs to improve on the last".

  • Our 1st projects for merlo were CBD espresso bars to caffeinate the corporate
  • We moved on to torrefaziones or roasting houses
  • Then mini roasteries to deliver locally and fresh
  • Out into the suburbs
  • and into the shopping malls
  • Great coffee at the airport is a recent invention
  • Along the way we built a tasting room or 2 and tasted a lot of coffee
  • We took espresso home
  • We even planned a plantation
  • We remebered what the experience was about
  • We remembered to entertain the customer
  • and 20 years after we built our 1st torrefazione, we built the same one again but for a whole new audience.