He is known by most as “Harry” and the staff at Merlo Paddington have been making him a 12oz strong latte for over 8 years now. In fact the shop can pretty much set their clocks by this guy as he comes in to get his morning and lunchtime coffees and one very last coffee each day! Harry is Merlo’s number 1 customer and has held that title for the last 3 years!
So we wanted to learn more about the man behind the coffee addict and here’s what we discovered!
Harry’s “real name” is Craig Harris – he was given the nickname Harry at primary school when his mates started to call him Harry the dirty dog – you know the one who was a white dog with black spots and then after getting really dirty became a black dog with white spots and no one recognised him? It is an apt name for him now that he runs a rubbish removal business “Rivercity Rubbish Removal” and getting dirty can be part of that game! Harry the Dirty Dog is still one of Harry’s favourite books often read at night to his daughter Teja and son Zigi.
Harry lives with his family in Auchenflower and treks every day – several times a day – up to Merlo Paddington for his coffee fix, passing several far closer coffee options on the way. Why? Well he explains it this way; “When I met my wife I went after number one and I haven’t looked sideways after 25 years of marriage. When I discovered Merlo I found the best coffee so I know I don’t need to go looking anywhere else!”
The funny part about that is that for a long time the staff at Merlo never met Harry’s wife because Harry would drive up before school drop offs every morning to pick up two coffees, his own and a takeaway double-shot organico latte for his wife. This went on for several years, the staff secretly believing that Harry was just buying a second coffee for someone who was a figment of his imagination. That was until Zinta turned up to place her signature order one morning when Craig was away and introduced herself as “Harry’s wife!” So now the staff know she exists even if they still don’t see her there as much as they see her coffee courier husband!
It is hard to miss Harry in his little black truck as he pulls in morning, noon and night – his truck emblazoned with his business slogan “we recyle, donate then dump”. Yet this shared philosophy is another reason why Harry keeps coming back to Merlo! Craig is passionate about doing his bit to leave the world a better place for his kids that will grow up in it. Recycling and minimising waste is really important to him. “My wife used to get cranky with me when I forgot to bring my keep cups up to get our coffees, but then Merlo changed their cups to recyclable ones so now I am off the hook!”
Harry does offer other reasons for travelling to Merlo Paddington three times every day – rain, hail or shine – “The coffee is great every single time and the service is second to none – so many of the staff have become great friends over the years and I look forward to going there – not just for the coffee and the break, but to catch up with others. I have come to brace myself for upcoming public holidays when I know the shop will be closed! I know I will have to suffer through for days drinking coffee I don’t enjoy as much! Going on holidays is tough too! I always stop in for a coffee at Merlo before we head off and I make a bee line for Merlo the moment we are back! In fact I have to tell the crew we are going away just so they don’t worry that something awful has happened to me!”
Harry is such an “institution” at Merlo Paddington that the staff call him at 5.29pm if he hasn’t rung in his last order to check if he is on his way! He is often seen helping do the pack down with Teja and Zigi in tow, as he sips his last coffee for the day.
Harry takes great pride in being Merlo’s number one customer – he even has the phone message from head office telling him that saved on his phone – ask him next time you see him – he’ll play it for you!