If there is one man who knows a thing or two about coffee and the Gold Coast café scene it is Tony Williams.
He’s owned Base Espresso for almost 30 years and recently invested in a coffee plantation on Mt Tamborine so the family could use their own blends in the café.
We sat down for a chat with Tony about hand-picking coffee cherries and a fresh new menu for Base!
How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I moved here in 1981, and have called the Gold Coast home ever since.
You’re the owner of Base Espresso in Broadbeach, how did your passion for coffee come about?
It’s had a bunch of different names, but I’ve had the store since 1989 coming up on 30 years; lucky I am passionate about it. It’s such a unique product that’s constantly evolving and I think that’s what most exciting about it – people are coming up with new ways to roast coffee, brew coffee and present coffee – certainly not a dull industry to be in.
What is your favourite thing about making coffee for Gold Coasters?
It’s definitely getting to know our locals, the Gold Coast is such a great place to live and it certainly attracts some great characters. Coffee is so much more than just a drink – it’s a big part of peoples’ daily routine; and it’s great that we can be a part of that!
Tell us about your coffee plantation?
We have a boutique coffee plantation up on Tamborine Mountain. Green Lane Coffee Plantation is really a family affair; with my two children Fiona and Sam running things up there along with my wife, Lee, and niece Megan and her husband Liam. It’s so exciting seeing the whole coffee process through from start to finish; certainly is a lot of work though!!
Do you use your own blends at Base?
Our coffee is roasted by Liam Smith on site at Green Lane. Our current house blend contains ethically sourced coffee from Africa and South America, blended with some of the coffee we’ve harvested on the plantation. It’s nice to be able to add our personal touch to what we’re serving.
What makes your brews unique?
I think just that; Australian coffee can be quite hard to come by, especially some that’s grown only 40 minutes from the Gold Coast’s shoreline. It’s fun to be able to taste characteristics from our organic coffee in harmony with some coffee from the world’s premier growing regions.
Tell us something we may not know about what goes into making a cup of coffee?
The thing I can’t get over is the handpicking of the coffee cherries. On coffee trees are thousands of ‘cherries’ each one of them contains two (more often than not) coffee beans. In all the coffees we are using in our blends, these cherries are handpicked. From experience I can tell you how arduous and monotonous this process is, sometimes picking one tree can take in excess of three hours. When you look at how much coffee is sold worldwide, that’s a lot of manpower going into just getting the beans off the tree!
Any exciting plans for Base in 2018?
Very exciting times here at Base! We’ve just had a new head chef/operations manager join our team. Jackie Rangitaawa joins us on the Gold Coast up from Sydney and is very excited to be releasing a fresh new menu this Monday!
What’s the best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
Above anything you have to develop a reputation for reliability.
Tell us your favourites on the Coast…
Beach: Burleigh Heads beach, but if the waves are too rough, just around the corner on the headland side of Tallebudgera Creek
Cafe: Base in Broadbeach is pretty good!!
Restaurant: Jimmy Wahs in Burleigh is always a very nice night out.
How does your weekend usually look? An early swim at the beach followed by a trip to the Farmer’s markets in Burleigh. Saturday I’m at Base (usually washing dishes) and Sundays are spent with my family on the coffee plantation. Weekends are hard to come by in hospitality – it’s a good thing I love it.