Partner Spotlight: The Gulbenkian Cafe, University of Kent

We sat down with Dan at the Gulbenkian to have a chat about Garage Coffee and how it fits in to the Gulbenkian's ethos of arts and community!

Tell us about the Gulbenkian! What does it provide customers, and how does it compliment what the theatre and the university provide? How long have you been involved with the cafe? What sets it apart from the other cafes and restaurants on campus?

Gulbenkian is the University of Kent’s Arts Centre offering innovative, engaging and high quality arts activity for the public, staff and students. It provides a key role in delivering the University commitment to public engagement and has a particular focus on the creative empowerment of children and young people.

Gulbenkian is open to everyone. For us specifically when it comes to the café we are here to enhance the experience for anyone who walks through our doors.

I have been at Gulbenkian just over 4 years, previously working elsewhere on campus and before that being a student here for 3 years, so I have never really left. The atmosphere on campus is great and working at the University has always been a pleasure of mine.

What sets us apart from others on campus? Our key ethos which sets us apart is our vow to support local suppliers and producers. We have slowly added more and more producers to the café over the years. Our meat, eggs, milk, beer, wine, bread, ice cream, cakes all come from local producers and we have now finally added coffee to that list with Garage and we couldn’t be happier. Luke, Alice and James have been truly incredible with their dedication, support and encouragement.

How does coffee fit into your business? What do your customers like to drink?

It is safe to say that tea and coffee is a must on a Monday morning for everyone. Coffee makes up a huge chunk of our trade in the café and we pride ourselves on supporting local and making great coffee. Our customers like to drink a bit of everything, where we have such a diverse customer base we have a variety in demand for drinks day to day, but if I had to choose one coffee that most people choose, it would be the notorious flat white.

Why is great coffee important to you? Why did you choose to go with Garage? What do you like to drink?!

I think if you love coffee you understand the importance of great coffee and not so great coffee. If you use Gulbenkian purely as a destination for a coffee and the coffee isn’t great not only does it affect our reputation but we have also failed our local producer and our vow is to promote the importance of local and help smaller businesses thrive.

We invited four local coffee producers up to Gulbenkian and hosted an open day for staff and students to find out about Gulbenkian and what we do. We held blind taste tests, asked questions to all the roasters to find out their policy on sustainability and discovered how strong their branding was and Garage Coffee came out on top not only with ourselves but with all the staff and students who visited on the day.

Since working with Garage coffee my drink of choice is now filter. At Gulbenkian we run a filter coffee of the month so we can change the offering regularly and educate our customers in the meantime. My favourite so far has to be Banco Gotete, I just love the notes of blueberry. Looking forward to choosing our single origin for next month.


1 comment

  • It’s such a shame that the Gulbenkian Cafe no longer supports Fairtrade. It was one of the first outlets in the district to do so, and this was a crucial step towards the University of Kent becoming a Fairtrade University, and the District becoming a Fairtrade District. It will now no longer be possible for the Unversity to be recognised as a Fairtrade University, and will make it very difficult for the District to remain a Fairtrade District.

    Richard Norman

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