Young, Gifted and in Our Neighbourhood

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13 December 2017

A flat over around the corner, a music studio over the road, a boyfriend also working for us, we’re lucky 21-year-old Australian Melina Payne and her UK boyfriend Jack not only chose Wellington for their next adventure, but Te Aro!

Recently arrived from the UK, Melina has joined us fulltime as a barista and trainer, and Jack is shining at our Tory St coffee box, Pavement.

Full of creativity, when not at Emporio Melina loves the visual arts and would one day like to be a curator. Jack is a musician who is trained in classical guitar and uses a studio space at Toi Poneke to practise. And if that isn’t cosy enough, Jack and Melina are also about to move into a flat within two minutes’ walk to Emporio.

Melina has been with us just a few weeks but already feels on top of her new role. She’s enjoying getting to know the regulars and discovering their coffee preferences. For the first time, she’s also learning about the process behind coffee, “I know how much I like coffee, I know how to make coffee, now I also want to know what’s behind coffee,” she says. “It’s new for me to be part of the roasting and distribution as well as being a barista. Working at Emporio brings something different for me; it’s a new challenge”

The intimacy of a small team at Emporio is also really important to Melina. “Most of our customers are regulars, it makes it more enjoyable.”

Melina’s first café job was at a branch of the popular Dome café in her home town of Bunbury, two hours south of Perth. It’s here she met Jack who was travelling and also working in hospitality. It was soon time to try life on Jack’s home turf so the couple moved to Surrey, England, where Melina worked in cafes while also volunteering for galleries and for arts project.

The ‘neutral territory’ of New Zealand beckoned and it was an easy choice between Wellington and Auckland. “We’d heard about the creative side of Wellington,” says Melina, “The coffee scene was also a really big draw. I love coffee!”

At an age when most New Zealanders are just discovering coffee, Melina says she had a slow build-up to enjoying it, starting at 14 with a sugar-laden mocha and now craving the strongest flat white.

For Melina, being a good barista requires an attention to detail; it’s the small details she says, it’s the little things that make a coffee better.