When Mauricio Murillo and his family first immigrated to Australia from Colombia, it was in the local coffee scene that the family first felt welcomed and at home. For the past 20 years, Mauricio has worked within Brisbane’s caffeine scene, launching his coffee-import and pop-up dispensary business Mr Coffee’s 15 years ago, soon becoming a regular fixture at both the Eagle Farm and Rocklea markets. Over this time Mr Coffee’s earned a reputation for being a reliable importer of Colombian coffee, working directly with farmers to source beans from organic and sustainable microlots, while also using coffee by-products for other purposes. Eventually, the family was approached by Communify to install a new cafe in a heritage-listed space overlooking the Teneriffe river walk, and seeing an opportunity to take their socially conscious coffee work further, the Murillos accepted. Barko & Co, which opened on Tuesday May 7, sees the Murillos bringing together local enterprises under one roof, where ethical and sustainable products are available to purchase alongside a menu of superfood-laden eats prepared using closed-circuit, minimal-waste methods.
Barko & Co’s home is perched above the river walk stretch that runs parallel to Teneriffe’s Macquarie Street strip. The space – formerly home to The Engine Room Cafe – is a sturdy brick structure that boasts a sunny deck looking across towards Hawthorne. The interior is spacious, with a large communal table constructed from recycled timber. A retail portion stocks a collection of goods from makers that align with their standards and ethics, with the selection predicted to grow over time.
The food and drink
Mr Coffee’s is the brew of choice for Barko & Co’s caffeine offering, with pours served in designer cups (from Huskee) made from organic waste material. Juices, tea from The Steepery, Mr Coffee’s own brand of organic hot chocolate and Myk’s circular economy probiotic kefir is available for non-coffee drinkers. The cafe has launched with a condensed menu, with a full list to come shortly. Barko & Co’s menu will boast a diverse health-conscious offering, with the superfood spectrum well represented across a range of salads, bowls, wraps, bagels, all-day breakfast and lunch bites. All produce – sourced from local growers – will intertwine through the menu, appearing across various dishes and guaranteeing minimal wastage. The retail section currently stocks goods from the Murillos’ various social enterprises, including Mauricio’s daughter Vanessa’s health bar made from upcycled coffee plant fruit, raw and unrefined sugar, and bags of beans from Mr Coffee’s for those wanting to take the experience home.
In the coming months, the Murillo family will be looking to launch other exciting social enterprises, including a world-first sustainable coffee availability platform app SCAPA, while Mauricio’s son Raex spearheads FIBO, an operation focusing on manufacturing textiles using leftover raw fibres from natural crops.
Barko & Co is now open to the public. For opening hours and other details, find Barko & Co in the Stumble Guide.