Our welcome space includes a cafe to relax in during your visit.

NEW – English tea, cafetiere coffee, fresh sandwiches and delicious cakes!

We’re now serving delicious new Tregothan Teas and fresh Grumpy Mule coffees in our wonderful vintage crockery, kindly donated by visitors a few years ago. Pick your favourite from our mix and match collection and enjoy a more refined and relaxed cafe experience!

Tregothnan Tea

Tregothnan teas logo - now served in the MERL cafeAs part of our bid to support local and national producers in our shop and cafe, we are delighted to introduce the excellent Tregothnan Tea – the first ever English tea grown and blended in Cornwall, served in innovative loose leaf pyramids made from biodegradable silken tea pouches.

Come and try a selection of delicious varieties. If you enjoy it, you can take some home from our shop too.

Grumpy Mule coffee

Our new cafetiere coffee Grumpy Mule is coffee for “chain-weary, flavour-hungry, coffee-drinkers” and makes a refreshing change from machine-made coffee if you have time to stop and relish it. There’s also a decaff option. It is sourced fairly and sustainably, and roasted with precision and care (in Yorkshire)

If you’ve got to run, hot drinks are still available from our machine, but don’t forget to bring a reusable cup to claim a 20p discount!


MERL cafe products Honest Crust sandwiches and Fairshare charity logo The café now stocks a variety of sandwiches produced by Honest Crust, including old favourites and a new vegan, gluten-free option, a Bhaji and Mango Chutney Wrap.

Honest Crust work in partnership with the charity Fareshare, a member of the European Federation of Food Banks and The Global FoodBanking Network. Our unsold sandwiches are donated to Fareshare, enabling them to redistribute meals to vulnerable people, and reducing food waste.


We’ve also added a new daily selection of 2 to 3 delicious cakes and bakes, including Caramel Slice, Lemon Drizzle Cake, Chocolate & Caramelised Orange cake and Dark & Fruity Flapjacks, Blueberry Bakewell Cake and Lemon Polenta.

All our cakes are suitable for vegetarians, with vegan and gluten free options also available. Please ask our staff for more info before you choose.


We have been working with the University of Reading to reduce the of waste from our café. We now use mugs and china cups & saucers for hot drinks in our café, with disposable cups available only on request. If you do use a disposable cup, please make sure to pop it in our paper cup recycling bin at the MERL or around the University, as we are now recycling paper cups through CupCycling™ by James Cropper.

Refill at Reading

The MERL cafe is part of Refill Reading, their logo has text incorporated into a green image of a cup and the recycling symbol.

We are a proud member of Refill at Reading, a Transition Town Reading project aiming to reduce the disposable cups going into landfill sites by encouraging the use of reusable cups. Bring your own cup and claim a 20p discount for any hot drink purchased in our café!

The MERL Reusable Cup

yellow and black bamboo keep cups featuring the MERL logo, available in the MERL cafeAnd if you need a resusable cup, we have the very thing! Produced by Ecoffee Mugs, our cups are made from natural fibres, corn starch and resin. They are also BPA, BPS and phthalate free. The lid and sleeve are made with matte, food-grade, latex-free silicone.
The whole product (cup, lid and sleeve) is dishwasher safe and should last for years if treated nicely! We are selling these at cost price to do our bit to reduce single-use cup waste.


If you’re looking for something more substantial, hot and cold lunches are also available in the University of Reading bar, The Dairy next door. (Please note that The Dairy is now operating cash-less tills.)

You are also welcome to bring a picnic to enjoy in the garden, where several picnic benches are available.