A Modern Roast

After a crazy week, I finally made it out to see Ben Presland – head roaster and the initiative behind The TATE Modern Gallery Coffee. I was expecting to go to the actual Tate Gallery down on the Thames, and see a white room

with a sleek glass exterior literally showing the intersection where coffee and art life collide. But when I got the address and trekked my way down some foreign road to Herne Hill, I entered a very different setting of a converted garage in an industrial car park. Sounds grim, but it seemed to be a more realistic representation of coffee and artlife….



When I arrived, Ben was just finishing his final roast for the day on his 12kg Probat.  He’s an ultra Auzzie bloke you could imagine bumping into in the outback, possibly with a cork hat and all… super chill but with loads of enthusiasm. Not quite “THAT'S a knife” … but you get my drift? (Crocodile Dundee Reference).


We talked a lot about the samples of green beans he had just received from Nordic Approach in Oslo, Norway (founded by Morten Wennersgaard and the infamous Tim Wendelboe). We discussed, the importance of good water, peaberry coffee and how much he liked the batch he had been sent from Kirinyaga in KENYA.  

I feel like explaining what a peaberry coffee bean is, because recently, a few people admitted to me that they didn’t actually know what it was or why it is so special.

Normally coffee beans grow two to a fruit, but sometimes it naturally mutates and only forms one bean, which look really cute. Generally they are smaller and rounder than normal coffee beans. You can’t tell whether it is a peaberry or not just from looking at the fruit, so they are usually sorted after the fruit has been opened therefore often they are sold at a more premium price.

Roasting Tate’s own Coffee was Ben’s initiative and making the change from Illy coffee to roasting their own was a long but worthwhile process; though not necessarily the easiest option. By sheer volume, roasting their own coffee has considerably lowered costs and made their food and beverage subsidiary much more productive. Its great that profits are reinvested back into the gallery, which is a free cultural resource for us all and a hugely satisfying contribution for Ben to be directly involved in.

I took home some of their current house blend: Kenyan Kamwangi and Brazilian Fazenda Ambiental Fortalenza beans. Which was chocolaty nutty with red fruit.

It was great to hang out with Ben and hear about his roasting philosophies. Unfortunately for the Tate, Ben has just moved back to Sydney but is setting up his own wholesale coffee business in called W10 - his postcode here in London, so essentially he’s still UK-connected… #innit!

I also couldn’t resist having a bit of a play on the old dartboard that was on the wall - of course, I held my own...

Hello, World!

Peaceout xx #wong #tgitc 

**Additional note: Phil Gerveaux, ex Head of coffee for Origin has taken over from Ben. Exciting times.

TGITC waz here. Trademark. 

TGITC waz here. Trademark. 

Photography by: http://jakegreen.co.uk

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