We started our journey in late November 2015 following the birth of our youngest Daughter when I realised that after 30+ years of working for the government it was time to develop an exit strategy.
Our team is currently Stu & Tom (with Tom taking the lead on the machine whilst Stu deals with the front of house). I’m sure that you’ll see us both around as well as a number of excellent casual staff that we will use for events, festivals and the longer jobs.
We were trained using our own Kombi and Equipment. The Gas machine takes some getting used to as the heat can be a little more variable than a standard coffee machine that you will find in most cafe’s. Our Instructors for the marathon session were Angus & Liz…. many thanks guys, the training was awesome.
Having said that, as with any other skill we continue to learn so please feel free to guide us on how to make your perfect coffee… we won’t be offended.
Finding the right vehicle
Kombean was the plan from the very beginning – it was just about finding the right vehicle. Any Kombi that is in good condition and has the inside restored will have a pretty high price tag attached to it nowadays. We were fortunate enough to find one in Victoria that had plenty done to it from a mechanical and body perspective and the inside (rear) was relatively untouched… We managed to acquire ‘Max’ as he was called and then started planning the reassignment!
So the Kombi was then handed over to the Mobile Coffee Group, North Rocks, Sydney. Where they embarked upon a four-week journey to custom fit the Kombi out. As you can imagine with any 41+ year old vehicle every one is different and then you add in the individual requests that each owner wants. Our particular request was additional batteries and a larger Inverter system so that we could power a Pie Oven.
You can see it starting to taking shape, including the two sinks (required to meet Health legislation), stainless steel water tanks, power cables and the battery compartment.
From the rear of the Kombi is the covered radiator as we have a Datsun L20D Air Cooled engine installed in the Kombi. This was already done, the theory being that this greatly increases the reliability of the van. The Pie machine was eventually replaced for a larger capacity one.
Space in the Kombi is at a premium!
Although the Roof is down this pretty much shows the inside of the finished interior. The Coffee Machine is a very expensive gas powered model, the stainless steel counter top on the left is above the two door fridge (for Milk and Soft Drinks) and there is some space for storage under the machine.
Time for the mechanic
Once we got the van back to Canberra we then needed to get some minor work done (this is not the place to go on a rant about ACT registration policy, the ignoring of interstate modification plates and extortionate engineering bills)……. the good news is that everything is very solid underneath with minor work generally being needed.
Preparation for paint job
The next job was a lot of preparation and painting prior to the Vinyl Wrapping which was done by Tom (he’ll be the one operating ‘Kombean’ on a daily basis). We had decided to go with a Red and Black colour scheme and therefore we would be doing all the black painting in an effort to keep the costs down. The next few photographs show the van during painting.
All the bumpers, Bull bar, spot lights, roof rack/basket and spare wheel have all been removed – it is the intention for the Kombi to look as clean and original as possible; the classic look. You will see that the black band around the middle section of the van has been done, whilst we were doing this work we took the opportunity to remove any rust we found (extremely minimal) and repaired any scratches and blemishes.. it is starting to look very good indeed!
All ready to go to Mick at ‘Funky Car Skins’ for vinyl wrapping…. very exciting to see the venture coming together…..
So off she goes into the vinyl wrapping – you wouldn’t think it was the same vehicle….
And there is no rest for the wicked…. as soon as it was out of Vinyl Wrapping then it was straight back into the Beetle Exchange in Fyshwick for some additional roadworthy preparation (brakes, lights, new horn, tow bar and other minor stuff). You will see the trailer in the background… we’ll cover that separately as that has been a monumental feat of effort to get it modified and prepared for painting and wrapping.
Once everything was done we managed to get into our first job – at the Kingston Foodies Market. It was an interesting experience as the power that was provided was not stable enough to run our coffee machine and as we were inside we couldn’t use the Gas… so 5 hours and 5 coffees later…. but it was invaluable when it came to giving us experience. We were able to fine tune a lot of things and add even more to the never ending list of things to purchase!!!!
The very next day we attended a Queanbeyan Kids soccer session and again it was more about learning the ropes and seeing what else needed doing. Both of these events provided a great chance for us to check and re-check the loading lists, and see how difficult it would be to operate for a long period of time out of the Kombi alone. We knew the trailer was a good idea!!
A good example of modifying the plan as we proceed. The night before we realised that the small price lists we were using didn’t cut it, so an 11pm paint job and a bit of timber cutting and we managed to make up a blackboard …. We think it looks pretty damn good!
The following week at the Foodies Market we added Fairy Lights, reorganised the inside and used the trailer. This gave us the ability to be able to drive in and be operating very quickly indeed (about 20 minutes which is the time it takes to get the Coffee Machine to working temperature). Our trainer, Liz, keeping an eye on us both to make sure we were getting into the routine.
Ready to roll
The Kombi & Trailer…. looking amazing! The trailer will eventually provide a covered seating area (Lounge) where we will have music (occasionally live) and hopefully a great atmosphere.