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Inspired by Austen: Coffee and cocktails from a converted 1971 Citroen van

Austen in his van.
Austen in his van.

If you see a 1971 Citroen HY van by the side of the road in Forglen on your travels, then why not stop and enjoy a coffee or tea and a cake from Austen Morley’s pop-up?

An idea that Austen Morley came up with while travelling in Australia has been brought to life in Aberdeenshire.

The budding entrepreneur has opened a pop-up espresso and cocktail bar, Morley’s Coffee, at his home in Forglen.

The “bar” is an iconic, fully restored 1971 Citroen HY van which Austen will hire out – fully staffed – for weddings and events after the coronavirus pandemic has eased.

The idea came to him while travelling in Australia – which has a huge coffee culture – and after working in London for a short spell.

Austen said: “I knew that the city life was never a long-term option for me, so decided to move back home to the countryside and to try and bring some of those good things that I experienced from the city back for rural people to enjoy.”

“Fantastic”

And the van has been very busy since the 24-year-old opened it for business early last month.

“It has been fantastic meeting so many people who have made the effort to come out a try out my pop-up. On the opening day in early April, I probably had 25 car-loads of people throughout the day, despite the hail and wind,” he added.

Austen is sourcing all of his supplies from the local area as much as possible, and his ethos is to support small, Scottish, independent brands.

The converted Citroen HY which Austen operates his pop-up from.

The Covid-19 outbreak, he says, has given him time to do a lot of research into choosing the right suppliers who uphold his values of being local, small, independent and ethical.

“Our coffee beans are single origin, ethically sourced directly from small farmers and are specifically roasted to order for me by Obadiah in Edinburgh.

“If I order on a Tuesday, the beans will be with me on the Thursday so are always really fresh. Their sourcing policy pricked up my ears and also my tastebuds – it’s really good coffee!”

Dairy milk is also sourced direct from farm, the supplier being the Fyvie-based Invercamey Dairy.

“The milk comes in traditional pint bottles, and while it’s not as convenient as conventional four-pint milk cartons, if I can reduce plastic, that’s a very good thing,” Austin said.

Austen in his converted Citroen van.

Using local

The “home bakes” he is serving include flapjacks and brownies which are being supplied by another young entrepreneur – Alice Lane who runs popular food firm Bakery Lane in Kintore.

Austen has also installed two tap draft beer dispensers which he says will no doubt be popular at weddings and events.

“We can set up kegs for an evening function using local craft beers, as well as gins and whiskies from local distilleries”.

He added: “My plan was to act as a local pop-up for a few months until events hopefully start to open up in 2021. Then the plan is to make the drinks bar a private event hire for weddings and corporate functions. I’m very excited to get going.

“When events can start again, I’m fully self-contained with a generator and a box trailer to transport the van to the hire location, so hopefully, we can hit remote places in the countryside, and also bigger, more extravagant events as well.”

People have been flocking to Morley’s Coffee.

Environmentally friendly

Austen wants to reduce the one-use disposable culture, so is encouraging customers to bring their own cups; if they don’t, the takeaway cups that he is using are compostable “Vegware” cups.

“I did a lot of research into disposable cups and a lot of them, even if they may be recycled and recyclable, a lot of your classic paper cups still go to landfill,” he explained.

““I wanted cups that are compostable, and I will work with a service company, like ScotWaste, to take away the cups to dispose of properly.”

Austen is a registered bartender, so has a personal alcohol licence, and has a traders’ licence for Aberdeenshire which will allow him to run pop-ups which he was planning to try out either in Turriff or Inverurie.

As he prepared his project, Austen has received mentoring and marketing support from the Rural Youth Project throughout the last 18 months.

What’s on offer at Morley’s.

Customers can find Austen at Turfhill House, Forglen, Aberdeenshire, AB53 4LR.

He is serving hot drinks, iced coffees and traybakes every Wednesday to Sunday, inclusive, from 10am to 4pm until the end of May.

He will also be open today (May 3) for the May Day bank holiday Monday.


More on foodie pop-ups…

Isle of Skye businesses team up to bring luxury five-course pop-up experience to sea

Foodie friends of 35 years join forces to charm Angus townsfolk with their tasty coffee and cake offering

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