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August 4, 2016

Introducing Blk Mrkt Coffee roasters

With clean taste and high tech, it's not your typical black market experience.

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  • Words: Connie De Crea
  • Pictures: Joshua Fanning

For more than half of Ben Rosenthal’s life, coffee has been his focus – so much so that he may be nine tenths caffeine now.


Find Blk Mrkt Coffee at 1/96 Hardys Road, Torrensville. Ben is about the place Monday to Friday, 8am-4pm. Look out for Ben’s new coffee blend, Show Pony, which will be released within the next few months.

Having trained, managed and worked in some of Adelaide’s early coffee hot spots, including the Gloria Jeans that produced Bar 9’s Ian Callahan, Cibo, Bracegirdles and Goat Candy – Ben has accumulated a depth of experience and attendant knowledge.

But only recently, nine weeks ago to be exact, did he decide it was time to head in another direction, and open his own roastery, Blk Mrkt Coffee.

“It’s the opportunity to be my own boss and use the knowledge that I’ve gathered throughout the years,” says Ben. “If anything I’m driven more because I know in the end I’ll reap the benefits. I’m the sort of person who keeps on going until I can’t go anymore.”

“I guess I’ve just been fortunate enough to see the scene explode. With that, I like to think I’ve got a pretty good idea of what South Australian consumers like, having worked for Cibo and all these other places,” he says.

“It’s a reflection of me as well, this is the type of coffee I like to drink, so there’s a lot of me within the company.”


Ben’s unique historical perspective on coffee and the local palate sets him apart from many of the other roasteries servicing the Adelaide market from interstate.

“You hear the phrase ‘coffee is an art’, whereas for me, coffee’s a science, in that it has variables which you can alter and variables which you can control and some you can’t. So what I can do is switch up those variables and get my desired product,” says Ben.

“An art sort of implies you’re using a natural hidden flare in order to get a product, for me there’s not much consistency in that – something people like is consistency, you know (the idea) that when I go here I’m going to get this coffee, and it’s going to taste the same.”

There’s no denying the influence science has had on the roastery, particularly when walking through the business’ industrial space in Torrensville, where the roastery’s impressive technology is on display.

Next to one of Ben’s shiny roasters sits a laptop with probes directly connected to the machine, indicating the temperatures of the beans on the screen. By monitoring the rise of heat and energy building up in the barrel, Ben controls as many variables as possible in order to maintain that perfect roast each time.

This level of attention allows Ben to have a clear idea of how Blk Mrkt Coffee should taste and what the brand represents.

“I aim for a very clean cut coffee. It doesn’t leave a drag in your mouth, doesn’t feel like you’ve had a cigarette and all that awful stuff. You can taste some flavours no matter where your palate is at,” says Ben.

It’s a flavour profile Ben has developed after a lot of careful consideration about the way Adelaide locals like to experience their coffee.

“I think as a state, we’re a lot more artistically minded. I think the whole idea of going out and having a coffee has entwined itself into our culture,” says Ben.

“I was reading an article and I remember the author saying that the emerging coffee hipster scene is actually keeping people in Adelaide. People can now set up their own roastery or set up their own café if that’s their wish. It’s not such a horrible thing to stay here anymore.”

Although still in its infancy, Ben has big plans for Blk Mrkt’s future – starting with a cellar door option during the summer, followed by eventually breaking into the larger market as the years go on.

“Ideally down the road, I’d love to see this coffee appear in some Melbourne or Sydney cafes, nothing huge, but just for my own personal pat on the back. If I can (do that), I think I’d be doing good – I’d be pretty happy with myself,” he says.

Until then, Ben is enjoying settling into his own roastery, quietly hoping that one day soon, Adelaide’s coffee scene will be making that little bit more of a mark on Melbourne.

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