Merchant & Maker is the second cafe from the five-strong Commonfolk Coffee Company in Mornington. Started by a group of friends from incredibly diverse backgrounds, Commonfolk was the first of its kind on the Mornington Peninsula, bringing ‘city’ coffee to the coast.
The business is managed by Sam Keck, a qualified zoologist who fell into the coffee industry while dreaming of becoming the next Sir David Attenborough. Amongst his teammates, Ben Hogan is an aeronautical engineer and Andy Dell a personal trainer and pro surfer, while Troy McDonagh currently manages the Made Establishment and Duncan Brown comes from being a pastor to operating a specialty poultry farm in Queensland. It goes without saying they’re an eclectic bunch.
In 2015, after unrelenting requests to open a second location further down the peninsula, Merchant & Maker opened at the site that was once home to the quaint McCrae General Store. The all-white exterior glows on the street corner and the subtle signage makes it feel as if it’s a true local secret.
Commonfolk aims to ethically source the best coffee from across the world and roast it to its full potential, bringing out the unique characteristics of each origin. Beans are sourced from farms in Brazil, Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Colombia and Uganda, with the latter being unique to Commonfolk due to the limited supply coming into Australia. All the coffee is hand-selected by a quality control team who regularly visits countries of origin and meets personally with farmers to discuss how they can produce the best quality coffee together.
The house blend, Progress Street, changes with the seasons but always offers a strong flavour profile with cherry and chocolate aromas. Other favourites include the Bom Jesus, a single origin from Brazil, and The Godfather blend, which has a sweet caramel aroma. On the alternative milk scene, Merchant & Maker offers not only soy but almond milk and coconut milk to complement your coffee choice.
Just like at Commonfolk, twenty cents from every coffee sold is donated to the group’s charity ‘The Cup that Counts’. The money goes toward establishing a sustainable coffee industry and supplying infrastructure, such as drying beds, to farmers in Uganda. Giving true meaning to ‘what goes around comes around’, the investment has enabled them to pioneer Ugandan specialty coffee all over the world.
With a very Melbourne look and menu, Merchant & Maker stands out in the regional cafe scene. The kitchen is run by Head Chef, Lynsay Heyden, and includes pimped-up smashed avocado and a twist on eggs benedict. Everything is made on-site, including the delicious pastries and baked goods prepared by Pastry Chef, Brad Hancock.
With their welcoming atmosphere and a penchant for remembering the names and orders of their dedicated regulars, the team at Merchant & Maker offers a taste of the city in regional beachside Victoria with a side of friendly service.