This year's build-outs have highlighted some incredible mobile operations—Terrible Love out of Austin, Dear Coco Street Coffee near the Kew Gardens in London, and Craftsman Coffee in Pacifica, California to name a few. Just opened here in July we're checking out Moonday Coffee, living the mobile coffee dream out in Portland, Maine, serving up Speckled Ax coffees from a baby blue La Marzocco Linea Mini on a custom steel utility cart.
As told to Sprudge by David Kessel.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
Moonday is a mobile espresso cart that roams the parks, beaches, and sidewalks of Portland, Maine, offering coffee moments in unexpected places. The spark of this tiny dream had been germinating, on some level, for years. This spring, as part of the ongoing project of building a life as human creatures, my partner and I planted the seed and went for it.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
We create a coffee space wherever we're planted: a place for people to slow down, take a breath, and connect. So far, in the first couple of weeks, we've tended towards grassy patches and promenades—natural gathering places.
We started with a 2-by-3-foot steel utility cart, and built out from there. My partner and I did all the work ourselves. The siding is local cedar, which we charred using a traditional Japanese wood-burning technique called shou sugi ban. We put a trailer hitch on a Honda Fit and got the tiniest enclosed trailer we could find to transport it.
In addition to the coffee offerings, we make a very special “traditional” chai—served small, strong, and steaming hot—based on a recipe I learned in India from a yoga friend, part of a lineage passed down from a chai wallah at a Hanuman ashram. A deep, slow smell will wash your brain clear.
What’s your approach to coffee?
I once got into a friendly argument with a cafe owner about which is more important in a cappuccino: mastery or love. The pursuit of mastery is righteous, to be sure, but I maintain that the ceiling for a thing done lovingly will always be much higher.
I love coffee for itself, of course—but the reason I want to make and serve it all day is because of what it offers as a vehicle. Coffee—and a coffee business—contain so many of the practices that are most important to me: gesture, craft, ritual, and relationship. They bubble up through every layer of the process, from cultivating partnerships to dialing in espresso, each step opening into an endlessly deep and joyful rabbit hole. I've been rocking a 1971 Pavoni and a hand grinder at home for the last decade or so—a great way to nurture seeds of deep coffee attention.
I've always oriented myself around coffee spaces. I think coffee shops are the happiest places on Earth. I want Moonday to be an offering—a way to tap into this aquifer of love and joy and intention and to release some of that sweetness into the world.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
We're super jazzed to be getting our coffee from Speckled Ax here in Portland. Their wood-fired roasting is some spiritual science. They're doing something special over there!
The beating heart of the coffee cart is a baby blue La Marzocco Linea Mini. We have a Mahlkönig E65S, a Baratza Sette 270 (for decaf), and Acaia scales. A couple of RTIC coolers hold ice, milk, and other cold stuff. The rig can be plugged in, or it can run off a little propane-converted Honda generator. Tools and objects, the things we touch all day, are vessels for intention, and I cherish the little sparks that are generated at these contact points. I'm using Slow Pour Supply‘s beautiful pitchers, and a sweet custom Reg Barber tamper from Four Barrel. There's a seed of ritual potential embedded in every ripple and gesture as we move through the world.
How is your project considering sustainability?
We're a tiny operation with a tiny footprint. We try to stay as local and organic as possible: we get organic coffee from our local roaster and use organic milk. We've also managed to source exclusively compostable products, which means everything that comes off the cart—cups, lids, straws, napkins—is fully compostable. We keep a single trash bin on-site, which is compost-only.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
We're out there! We launched at the end of July.
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
I'm finding again and again that coffee people are the best people—the most excitable and supportive cats out there. I'm so grateful for all the generous sharing of advice and experience from coffee pros, friends, and cart-people who've walked the path before us.