Something that struck me about my pre-pandemic voyage to Australia (other than the eternity of the flights) was the omnipresence of Il Marzocco coffee machines. In every far-flung bar, from Sydney CBD to the koala enclosure in suburban Brisbane, a shiny feat of Tuscan engineering resolutely took pride of place. It must have come as a comfort to Fiesole-born barista Maykol Martino when he upped sticks to Manly, New South Wales.
“It started as a chat over a beer with my friend Alice, who went on to become my girlfriend and business partner, and another couple. We all left our jobs and went off on this great adventure to Australia.” Maykol was working at Mercato Centrale Firenze at the time, but he felt compelled to learn English “somewhere sunny” so that he could converse with customers and educate about the world of speciality coffee. Three and a half years later, circumstances contrived to bring Maykol and Alice back to Tuscany, resulting in the July opening of Manly The Office in busy via Pisana.
The tiny hangout has enticing curb appeal. A duo of blackboards parked outside get to the point with punchy white writing: “Breakfast, brunch & specialty coffee” and “Good coffee here”. While some customers prefer to perch in the outdoor seating area, the interior promises laidback vibrancy, Aussie style. A backlit image of Manly shows the love that Maykol and Alice harbour for the place where they made a romantic connection, while a bamboo-lined bar solves the age-old caffeine craving. Sitting on a red bench among mustard cushions opposite an exotic fern-stencilled wall, a single espresso is placed on the tree-trunk table top. Hints of dark chocolate, hazelnuts and red berries escape from the cupful of the L’Australiano blend made to measure for Maykol by Florentine micro-roastery D612. “It’s 80 per cent Brazilian, 20 per cent Ethiopian, natural process, meaning that the coffee cherries are left to dry, which allows the aromas to be absorbed. Then it’s medium roasted,” explains Maykol, who repeats the same mantra as customers pop in for a hit. Whether he’s talking with local residents or international travellers, the barista’s energy remains upbeat and enthralling.
Open from 7.30am to night, brunch wraps, avo toast and bagels are among some of the bites prepared in the micro-kitchen, as well as granola, acai bowls and a luscious-looking carrot cake that requires an indulgent return. Formerly a cocktail bar, Manly The Office has extended its opening hours for the aperitivo hour out of a desire to establish themselves among the local community.
PS. In case you’re wondering (like I was), “The Office” refers to a popular grassy hangout on the East Esplanade in Manly.