December 4, 2014

Global coffee treasures

Only very rarely has a coffee Museum/Collection of this magnitude and global significance ever come onto 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.

The Museum/Collection reflects Ian Bersten’s lifelong passion as Coffee Roaster, Writer, Inventor and Collector. Ian spent 37 years globe-trotting to bring together a unique collection that is now the Bersten Antique Coffee & Tea Collection & Museum and is recognised within the Industry as one of, if not, the largest and most significant collections of coffee and tea makers in the world.

Ian 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 USA. 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 Ian’s life’s work as a collector.

In 2012, Ian was inducted into the Cafetto Coffee Roaster Hall of Fame, being recognised as an individual who has made a significant lifetime contribution to the coffee industry in Australia.

Owners and creators of the Museum, Annie and Rob Webber 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.

Annie and Rob purchased Ian’s incredible collection in 2005. At that time, no one, not even Ian himself, had ever seen the collection on display in its entirety.

“Ian’s book, Coffee Floats, Tea Sinks, has always been a well-thumbed reference book in my library since the early 1990s,” says Rob. “When I heard Ian was selling the collection in 2004, Ian and Helen (his wife) came to Mareeba for the first time ever, to discuss whether we would have at least an outside chance of us purchasing the collection.”

Ian had just completed the dedicated job of photographing and cataloguing 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,” says Annie. “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. Ideally the museum would be relocated onto a much grander public stage. The Collection is really of world-wide 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,” Rob says.

The Museum/Collection will be offered for sale as one lot through Private Online Auction from 1st January 2015 and runs to the 1st May 2015. Offers prior to Auction may also be considered!

To register your interest or to become a bidder,
please visit


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