As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across communities, coffee shops were among the first businesses to be hard hit. Because of the sweeping lockdowns and strict social distancing protocols, many closed down or only partly open for takeout.
Yet in Cebu, one of the areas hard-hit by the pandemic, a coffee place born during the height of the lockdown is garnering some serious attention on social media. But it doesn’t have the usual decors, feel and ambiance of one — not even walls, windows or doors. Because this particular caffeine haven is mounted on wheels.
Born from the streets
In the streets of Cebu City, The Coffee Mobile (TCM) is a Cebu-based mobile coffee shop that is quietly gaining a loyal following and growing fan base, thanks to its trendy and delicious take on the coffee-drinking experience.
Wheels.PH talks to TCM owner and founder Paul Anzano as he shares the humble beginnings of his business and the challenges of having a mobile coffee shop. The Coffee Mobile is the brainchild of Anzano, a barista by profession who is fascinated by concocting various caffeinated brews. His passion to bring the crafted drinks to communities is what drove him to open his own pop-up coffee place in June this year.
“It started during Cebu’s lockdown. With all that free time I had during the lockdown, I started sharing my own personal brew recipes to our neighbors using the little cart we built and started selling our bottled elixers (cold brew) online,” Anzano recalls.
Currently, The Coffee Mobile serves three kinds of drinks, Pour Over Coffee, Cold Brew Beverages and Espresso Beverages, with the bestsellers being the bottled elixers or cold brew coffee, best paired with cookies and muffins.
Kicking off the nomadic coffee culture
Since he was a child, Anzano has always been fascinated with wheeled objects, specifically skateboards and motorcycles. Now that he’s a bit older, the passion for coffee drives him forward but the childhood dreams are still there. The young entrepreneur thought of combining the two. Why not place the bar on wheels so that it can travel and go places?
“Growing up, I’ve always been into riding skateboards and motorcycles. Just the thought of them can bring you to different skate spots or riding sceneries and the fact that you can just get up and go anytime if you want to, is a reflection of The Coffee Mobile. Since I’ve started my job as a barista in a big coffee company last 2014, I’ve always been amazed of how a simple cup of coffee can genuinely connect people through coffee tastings and that gave me an idea of bringing that culture to the streets.” Anzano shares.
Anzano aims to create a coffee culture through The Coffee Mobile and inspire a growing number of coffee drinkers. Wheeled and always mobile, his movable shop can freely stroll across different neighborhoods in the city. His coffee ventures began with the TCM Cart, the first mobile coffee bar. It was followed by the TCM Moto Pop up coffee bar, and the third and largest, a retrofitted Volkswagen Kombi that travels to Lapu-Lapu City every Saturday for pop up sessions.
On a good day, the Coffee Mobile can serve up 13-15 patrons at a time but like all mobile businesses, being at the mercy of the elements is one big hassle.
“There are many challenges we face every time we go out to sell our coffee. One big factor is the weather. The intense heat of the sun is okay but the rain can really give us huge problem specially keeping our equipment dry. But hey, where’s the spirit of adventure without those challenges?” Anzano laughs.
The Coffee Mobile never lingers at one place for too long, so Anzano advises customers to catch TCM’s current location by checking out the stories in The Coffee Mobile’s official social media account in Facebook (www.facebook.com/thecoffeemobile) and in Instagram (www.instagram.com/thecoffeemobile).