In Angel, London, there is only one reputable place you should buy your coffee—Caffé Mobile, a one man operation run by Swedish Stefan Carlberg, a former banker, club promoter, entrepreneur, and writer. Stefan and his compact coffee truck are a regular fixture in Angel and you can’t miss him, located right outside the train station.
I spent the morning with the sociable Stefan listening to him talk about his colourful past whilst watching him make coffees. His regular customers greet him like an old friend, and it doesn’t take long for new customers to become firmly acquainted with him. It’s easy to see why—Stefan is loaded with charm and chat. How many people do you know can say thank you in forty one languages?
Stefan hasn’t always worked in food and hospitality, despite trading from his van for the past twelve years. He doesn’t look old enough to have had previous careers in various industries. Prior to his current job, he worked gruelling hours as a trader, which took him abroad to work in Japan. Whilst there he discovered the Japanese clubbing scene, found his calling at the time and quit his job as a trader to become a club promoter. After a few years of promoting clubs, Stefan moved to Amsterdam in pursuit of creating a web-based start-up. He invested all his money into this start-up but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. Unfazed by this failure, he had aspirations to become a film writer and spent a year writing scripts.
It was during this hiatus that Stefan realised he needed a social job, one where he could be around people on a daily basis, rather than sitting at home on his own, all day in front of a laptop. He came across the job at the coffee truck with the original owner, started working as his assistant and, after a year, he was running his own coffee truck.
An early start of five a.m. means you have to be a very early morning person to do this job.
“I go to bed as early as nine p.m. and have to be set up and ready to start the morning trade by six fifteen a.m. What time I close shop will vary each day depending on how busy I am,” says Stefan.
It may look small and compact from the outside but when you delve inside the operations of this coffee truck, you will find a large selection of coffees to satisfy your caffeine addiction. If you’re feeling hungry, you will also find a good selection of pastries to accompany your coffee.
The coffee is made from a blend of three beans—South American, Central American and African beans —a dark, strong, Italian style coffee. I was thrilled to see Cortado on the menu (a Spanish coffee similar to the Italian Macchiato where a small dash of milk is added to cut the espresso) which is hard to come by in London cafes. In the warmer months there are chairs and tables to sit at, but the majority of his customers are in a rush (like most Londoners) and either down their espresso within seconds or have their coffees to go.
Stefan sees his customers as friends, and his generosity extends to the homeless in the form of free coffees each day. He continues to exude passion for what he does, even after twelve years, and perhaps this is the recipe for his success and popularity.
To learn about Caffé Mobile’s travels, follow their twitter account: @caffemobilevan.