Ian Bersten spent 37 years traveling throughout the world to bring together a unique collection that is now The Bersten Antique Coffee & Tea Collection & Museum. Recognized within the industry as one of the largest and most significant collections of coffee and tea makers in the world, it reflects Bersten’s lifelong passion as a coffee roaster, writer, inventor, and collector.
Very rarely has a coffee Museum/Collection of this magnitude and global significance ever come into the open market. Even more intriguing is the fact that it’s been on display to the public in an industrial precinct of a small country town called Mareeba in the Cairns Highlands, Australia, since 2007.
Bersten frequented vaults and historical archives to trace the origin, history, and evolution of nearly every style of coffee maker. His attention to detail and insistent demand for facts led him through the patent offices in Spain, Italy, France, Germany, and the United States of America. He then went on to source and collect over 1,600 significant coffee and tea making treasures dating back to the late 1700s. The collection is the culmination of Bersten’s life’s work as a collector.
In 2012, Bersten was inducted into the Cafetto Coffee Roaster Hall of Fame, being recognized as an individual who has made a significant lifetime contribution to the Coffee Industry in Australia.
Annie and Rob Webber, owners and creators of the Museum, have been roasting coffee in Mareeba for 25 years. Their boutique roastery, Coffee Works, has been welcoming visitors and showcasing the Australian coffee industry since its infancy in 1988. They are one of the leading roasters, supporters, and promoters of Australian-grown coffee.
Mr. and Mrs. Webber purchased Bersten’s incredible collection in 2005. At that time, no one had ever seen the collection on display in its entirety.
“[Bersten]’s book, ‘Coffee Floats, Tea Sinks,’ has always been a well-thumbed reference book in my library since the early 1990s,” said Mr. Webber. “When I heard [Bersten] was selling the collection in 2004, [Bersten] came to Mareeba for the first time ever to discuss whether we would have at least an outside chance of us purchasing the collection.”
Bersten had just completed the dedicated job of photographing and cataloging the entire collection and was ready for sale.
“With the collection as a central focus, we proceeded to tell the story of the evolution of coffee,” said Mrs. Webber. “We combined the facts, myths, legends, and stories of coffee as a social, political, and cultural lubricant and created the museum to appeal to as broad an audience as possible”.
The result is a one-of-a-kind experience: impressive in its size, scale, variety and historical significance. It is a self-guided, interactive, and highly personal journey enjoyed by a large number of visitors to the Cairns Highlands region.
“We have made the tough decision to sell the Museum/Collection. We are selling it as an entire visitor experience, with all the visual, audio, and physical infrastructure we created to showcase and tell the story of coffee,” said Mr. Webber. “Ideally, the museum would be relocated onto a much grander public stage. The Collection is really of worldwide significance. We would be thrilled if it ended up in Paris, Rome, London, or New York. That is really where it belongs — so that as many people as possible can easily access and appreciate its magnificence.”
To register your interest or to become a bidder please visit The Bersten Collection