Welcome back!

The MERL café has now reopened! From 18th May, we have reintroduced some indoor seating but there is plenty of seating on the patio and picnic benches with parasols are available in The MERL garden, a beautiful, peaceful spot to relax.

Our delicious cakes and vintage crockery are back for a more special café experience!

We are now only able to accept card or contactless payments.

On arrival, please check in using the NHS Track and Trace QR code app. Remember that you may only sit indoors in groups of up to 6 people or two households, and please maintain a safe distance from anyone outside your household. You may meet in larger groups outside.

Special offer

Hot drink and a cinnamon bun or pastel de nata, £3.25 before 12pm!

English tea, filter coffee, fresh sandwiches and delicious cakes

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 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.

Reads Coffee

The Reads Coffee logo, a white letter R inside a black hexagon

We now serve delicious, freshly brewed filter coffee, available in mugs or cafetieres. 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 by Samworth Brothers, including old favourites like Smoked Ham & Cheddar, BLT and Tuna Mayo. We also have vegan and gluten-free options available daily.


We are delighted to announce that our outstanding cakes are back! Our daily selection includes Caramel Slices, Lemon Drizzle, Raspberry Bakewell and many more!

We have also added a new 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.