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April 05, 2019

Meet Ben, The Potato...


Last year, we started a new internal project amongst the team here which we called "The Instagram Takeover". The purpose of this project was to showcase the many faces here that make Tim Wendelboe (the company) what it is. This week, we are focusing on none other than our project manager and roaster, Ben Symes, aka "The Potato". Throughout the day, we will show you a little bit about who he is and what his typical day/week at work is like. As always, I have promised not to do any editing on these stories to allow their personalitites to shine through. My aim is really to just let you get to know us a little better, and emphasize that any great success is really a team effort. So here we go. Here's 25 Questions with Ben...

25 Questions with Ben...

1. Who are you and what do you do at Tim Wendelboe?
Benny Symes. I’m a coffee roaster & project manager at Tim Wendelboe. That means I look after production and quality control, help with training, events, courses for our wholesale customers, deliveries and whatever else pops up. Tim calls me ‘potato’ as I go with everything.

2. How long have you worked here?
Three years & three months.

3. Where do you come from?
Melbourne, Australia.

4. What did you study / where did you work before coming here?
I have a bachelor in Arts and a post-grad diploma in Design. Since moving to Norway ten years ago I have worked for Fuglen, as a barista in Oslo and then as a coffee roaster in Tokyo. Part of that included an eight month ‘traineeship’ in coffee roasting with the good people at Kaffa.

5. Do you remember what your first meeting / interview with Tim was like?
I knew Tim from my time at Fuglen, but to be honest I was quietly in awe of him. When I was moving back from Tokyo we organised a Skype interview, I made loads of notes and kept them discreetly to the side. I really wanted to work here so I left nothing to chance, even arranging for a sunset skyline view of Mt Fuji out my window as my backdrop - unfortunately by the time he had logged on it was night time and pitch black outside, ha.

6. What is the best thing you love about the job? 
Working with wonderful colleagues and customers - and having the opportunity to work with truly fantastic coffee from hard-working producers year after year.

7. What is the most challenging? 
It’s a lot of work striving for the TW standard, every day.

8. How would you describe Tim Wendelboe (the company) in one word?
Progressive.

9. How would you describe Tim Wendelboe (the person) in one word?
Uncompromising.

10. What is your favourite type of coffee to drink?
Black filter coffee.

11. What is your next favourite beverage to drink?
Wine.

12. Coffee is best with…?
Hot water.

13. What is the funniest / most embarrassing moment you’ve had at work?
Nothing really embarrassing, but it makes me chuckle listening to the power ballads being belted out on a daily basis here at the roastery by Marit & Tim.

14. What has been the most rewarding experience you’ve had at work?
I get a lot of satisfaction from creating a great product and sharing it with customers, colleagues & friends. Plus winning four Nordic Roaster Competitions in a row ;)

15. What do you do in your spare time, when you're not working at Tim Wendelboe? Any special interests, hobbies, skills? 
Surfing, snowboarding, skiing, swimming, sludgey music - anything beginning with an ’S’ & preferably outdoors. Also cooking & eating.

16. If you weren’t working at Tim Wendelboe, what other career would you want to have? 
Probably something in design or food industry. Or a back flanker for my Aussie Rules Football team, the mighty Collingwood Magpies.

17. What was your first ever impression of coffee?
Instant - with a couple of sugars.

18. What does an average day look like for you at Tim Wendelboe?
Roasting, cupping, brewing, analysing, labelling, measuring green coffee, moving green coffee, visiting wholesale customers, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning…

19. What does coffee mean to you?
Ritual.

20. If you could travel to any one of our origin countries, which one would you pick?
Colombia or Ethiopia maybe? Or Mexico - We recently started working with a few small farmers in Tenejapa, Chiapas. I heard the surf pumps there and the food is obviously amazing.

21. Filter or Espresso? 
Filter, for sure.

22. Fruity or Chocolaty?
Fruity, for sure.

23. Do you have any guilty pleasures when it comes to drinking coffee outside of Tim Wendelboe, or are you a diehard Tim Wendelboe coffee drinker only? 
I’m a diehard. But, I usually get an iced coffee flavour ‘Big M’ or ‘Nippys’ milk when I’m home in Australia. It’s the perfect accompaniment to a sausage roll with dead-horse (sauce).

24. There is a Japanese word called “ikigai” which means, “the reason you get out of bed in the morning”, i.e. what inspires you in life. What gets you out of bed in the morning? 
I just like to enjoy my life, work hard and be nice to people. Oh and food, food is the best, what I’m eating is on my mind 98% of the time.

15. If you could have coffee with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
My beautiful girlfriend Christina & son Sune, she’d have a Cappuccino Al Freddo and be bouncing off the walls for the rest of the day. If she was busy then my Mum, Dad, brothers and sister (because I don’t get to see them enough & I know they’re reading this

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That's it's and that's all for now! We hope you enjoyed getting to know a little bit more about Ben. If you wish to get to know more of the people behind the scenes here at Tim Wendelboe, stay tuned by following us on Instagram (@timwendelboe) and Facebook. We will notify you when the next team story is ready for you to enjoy with your cup of coffee...