Please note: before you visit, please check The MERL’s COVID updates blog for the latest visitor information.

Treat yourself in our café

Enjoy a drink and a treat at The MERL café within our bright and modern welcome area. There is seating available both indoors and out, with several tables on our patio sheltered by sunshades. Picnic benches with parasols are also available in The MERL garden, a beautiful, peaceful spot to relax.

Please note that we are ventilating our spaces via a combination of mechanical ventilation and keeping doors and windows open when necessary, so it may be a little chillier than usual in the café. Find out about the current measures we have in place to help keep our staff, volunteers and visitors safe on our Visit Us page.

*New* Soup

Keep warm with this super addition to our lunchtime offer! Enjoy a mug of delicious vegetable soup and a slice of sour dough bread for £3.50. Available 12-3pm Tuesday to Friday.

The MERL Membersheep

Do ewe come here often? If you’re a familiar face in our café, why not become a MERL member? Earn rewards, gain access to exclusive offers, and be among the first to hear new updates from our team.

English tea, filter coffee, fresh sandwiches and delicious cakes

Cream teas

Delicious scones baked specially for us by University of Reading chefs are served with the Caversham Jam Lady’s strawberry jam and Rhodda’s clotted cream. Served with a pot of Tregothnan Tea. (Cream Tea for one, £6. Scone with jam and cream, £4.50)

A couple enjoy a cream tea in the MERL cafe

Tregothnan Tea

Tregothnan teas logo - now served in the MERL cafe

As part of our bid to support local and national producers in our shop and café, we are delighted to serve 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.

Reads Coffee

We now serve delicious, freshly brewed filter coffee, available in a mug or cafetiere. Our beans are roasted by Reads Coffee of North Dorset, who have over 20 years’ experience in producing ethically-sourced blends guaranteed to knock your socks off.

If you’ve got to run, takeaway is available. If you bring a reusable cup, you can claim a 20p discount.


The café stocks a variety of tasty sandwiches produced for us by the chefs at the University of Reading, using fresh, locally sourced ingredients.  The range includes vegan and gluten-free options.

Cakes and buns

Our daily selection of delicious cakes includes Lemon Drizzle, Raspberry Bakewell, Caramel Slice and many more.

We also offer a daily selection of delicious bakes, including enormous Cinnamon Buns, scrumptious Praline & Dark Chocolate Swirls, and light, smooth Pastel De Nata.

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 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 cafe

And if you need a reusable 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.