With nearly a decade of archives to peruse in the Build-Outs feature series, we’ve seen just about every kind of cafe modification and retrofit imaginable from all around the world. A school bus in Alaska? Seen it. A cart with a heart in Oakland? Seen it. A mobile bike in Missoula? You had better believe we’ve seen it. Not to sound all high and mighty, but here in 2021 there isn’t much that flips our collective wigs here at the old Build-Outs bureau.
That is, until today. Because today we are in Austin, Texas featuring Terrible Love (great name) a completely refurbished horse trailer (okay) originally designed for a tiny horse (there are no words). Terrible Love took on a pre-existing retrofit, spruced it up, and now they’re serving two excellent roasters from a mobile space that was once home to a Shetland pony. Cue up 5000 Candles In The Wind and think tiny horse thoughts as we settle in for this first-ever horse trailer conversion cafe feature in the Build-Outs pantheon.
As told to Sprudge by Brian Knowles.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
Terrible Love is full service coffee shop squeezed into a retrofitted horse trailer in Austin, Texas. I found the trailer online and drove from Austin to Boise (and back!) to pick it up in November 2020. The trailer had been partially converted to a coffee trailer by the previous owner, but quite a bit of work was still necessary. Work completed by me in the months that followed included building a wall and door, installing a service window, rewiring some of the electrical, reworking the plumbing, and more “finish” items than I can count. Despite the trailer’s humble beginnings, I take quality very seriously and the coffee is on par with the best shops in town. At present we serve beans from Try Hard (Austin) and Parlor (NY).
Can you tell us a bit about the space?
It’s a retrofitted tiny horse (Shetland pony?) trailer. Just big enough for one barista.
What’s your approach to coffee?
First and foremost, the beans and the preparation must be top notch and consistent. Sustainability is also a priority, and fortunately the roasters we use share that value.
Any machines, coffees, or special equipment lined up?
How is your project considering sustainability?
The concept was envisioned and built with sustainability in mind, particularly reuse and utilizing a small footprint. The trailer hauled horses in its former life, and many of the materials use in construction were scrap or repurposed. It’s also tiny and has minimal impact on the environment where it’s parked.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
We opened May 2, 2021
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
Matt Thompson designed the branding and logo. Matt was a regular (and I mean *regular*) when I was at Wright Bros. Brew & Brew, and we worked together on a couple projects there. He did a lot of designing while hanging out at the bar and I would always be nosy about it, so I knew I could completely trust him to do something killer.
The signage was hand painted on the trailer by Greg Jones, who’s been in Austin since before hand-painted signage was cool. He’s done work for legendary spots like Jo’s Coffee and Torchy’s Tacos, so I was thrilled he was willing to take on this project.
I also have to shoutout my good friend Stephen Billick, who pretty much learned how to weld to help fabricate the wall and frame the windows.