Almost a decade ago, Tahlea got her start in coffee at McDonald’s. “It just kind of happened,” she told Restaurant and Cafe. “It was fun and there was so much to learn. People always appreciate a good cup of coffee!” Murray’s career has taken her through some of Sydney’s top coffee houses, where she has learned from the best. “It’s so nice to learn from people who are so passionate about coffee.”

Murray grew up in Newcastle, Australia, with her parents and seven siblings. Murray works full time at Middleton Bar and Café on Queen St and tries to dance once or twice a week. During the weekends she and her partner see as much of Auckland as possible, having made the move to New Zealand earlier this year.

After making coffee for so long, to make a good coffee is more instinct than anything. “After a while you don’t have to think so hard,” she explained. “You watch the pour, feel the tamp and it either feels right or it doesn’t.”

The hours can be long for a job that requires constant standing, but the customers make it easy. “There is a group of four that come in most days and always have a chat,” she said. “They’re friendly and lovely people and get bonus points for having a fellow Aussie amongst them!”

Along with the good customers, there are the not-so-good customers. Murray has seen a few interesting orders in her time, ranging from a latte with maple syrup to a ‘quarter strength decaf mocha on soy with no foam and cinnamon on top’. But you won’t catch her ordering any of these for herself, and not just because she’s been on the receiving end of such absurdity.

“I’m actually a dedicated tea lover,” she admitted. “Coffee is a work thing.”