Treat yourself at The MERL

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.

English tea, filter coffee, fresh sandwiches, and delicious cakes

Cream teas

Delicious cream teas are now available once again in The MERL café! Scones baked specially for us by University of Reading chefs are served with jam and clotted cream. Served with a pot of Tregothnan Tea.

Cream tea for one, £6

Scone with jam and cream, £4.50

Visitors enjoy cream tea in The MERL café.Tregothnan Tea

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 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.


We stock a variety of sandwiches produced for us by the chefs at the University of Reading, using fresh, locally sourced ingredients.  The range includes vegan options.


Enjoy a mug of delicious soup with bread and butter for £3.50. Served 12-3pm, Tuesday to Friday. (Sept to June only)

Cakes and buns

Choose from a daily selection of delicious cakes, with a range including Lemon Drizzle, Raspberry Bakewell, Caramel Slices, and more.

We offer a daily selection of delicious bakes, including enormous sticky Cinnamon Buns.

A selection of cakes on display in The MERL café.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.

The MERL Membersheep

Do ewe come here often? If you’re a familiar face at The MERL, 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.


Working with the University of Reading, we take care to minimise our café waste. We use mugs and china cups and saucers for our café’s hot drinks with disposable cups available only on request. If you do use a disposable cup, please make sure to pop it in a paper cup recycling bin either at The MERL or around the University campus, as we recycle paper cups through CupCycling™ by James Cropper. We also have separate food waste and dry recycling bins.

Refill at Reading

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

 The MERL Reusable Cup

 …and if you need a reusable cup, we have the very thing. Produced by Ecoffee Cup, our cups are made from natural fibres, corn starch and resin. They are 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 sell 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 operates cash-less tills.

Everyone is welcome to bring a picnic to enjoy in the garden, where several picnic benches are available for your use.