The Tank is run by an energetic, friendly, fun and dedicated team who’ve been brewing up and making mochas for us at the festival for 15 years or so now. That’s a lot of fair trade cups of tea and coffee! (Oh, and don’t forget their to-die-for hot chocolate and cake!)
It was back in the days when the festival was at Cheltenham Racecourse (1999–2013) that the café first took its ‘Tank’ name. Back then, the cafe was housed in one of the bunker-like, concrete spaces underneath the grandstand. The Tank word fitted the contained and underground feeling of the venue. But, as so often happens in the imaginative space that Greenbelt creates, the Tank is way more than just a café, and way more than just the amazing volunteer team that comes together to run that café onsite each year.
Early on in its genesis, something more happened “…One balmy evening in Manchester, back in the mid-noughties, the team bowled up to watch a film we were screening at the festival that year called Black Gold (you can watch it too — blackgoldmovie.com). And it changed everything. From that moment, the Tank team wanted to know where the coffee they were sourcing was coming from, who was growing it, how much they were getting paid, and who else was in the supply chain before it got to us. They weren’t being nosy. They just wanted to be able to hold their heads high whenever they served Greenbelters with a delicious cup of coffee.
So, they set about talking to coffee importers and sellers, and even went to Ethiopia and Kenya to meet the farmers. They wanted to see with our own eyes what each farmer was really getting for their hard work and harvest. Added to this, to ensure their coffee was as fresh as can be, they decided that they also wanted to roast the coffee themselves.
In July 2009, a large Turkish lorry, driven by a large Turkish lorry driver, made its way all the way to Manchester with his precious cargo — a shiny new roaster. It wasn’t long before the guys were roasting and tasting, testing and tasting. Roasting, testing and tasting. You get the picture.
It took a fair few years, but this is the story of how a small team of Greenbelters doing something at the festival also built a small enterprise outside the festival. The tankcoffee brand is committed to doing as much as it can to improve the lives of the farmers they bought their coffee from. And they happen to roast amazing-tasting coffee to boot (find out more at tankcoffee.com).
So, when you pop into The Tank café over this festival (and you really should!), think of the backstory and remember that every bit of profit the Tank Café turns comes straight back to Greenbelt. That’s because the Tank is Greenbelt’s café. It’s run by Greenbelt volunteers; festivalgoers who love and believe in the festival.
This year the Tank Cafe will be modelling best practice ideas around our drive to get rid of all single-use plastic from the festival. They won’t be selling anything in a plastic bottle, but don’t worry, there will still be lots of delicious canned cold drinks. They also won’t be selling anything with a plastic straw – which means drinks cartons for children are out (despite many phone calls to suppliers hunting for plastic free alternatives). Instead there will be cups of fruit juice and squash readily available.
You can also get your phone charged in the Tank Café. And as it is near The Glade mainstage you can enjoy your drinks and listen to great music at the same time. The café is open all hours so whenever you’re flagging and need to take the weight off, the Tank café and its friendly welcoming team will be there for you.
Oh, and did we mention what great value the drinks are in the Tank? And did we mention they do delicious snacks and cake, too?