The Bean Machine: Coffee Vending Done Properly

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So, the Beautiful Days Festival was as much fun as the lineup (featuring House Of Pain, Dropkick Murphys and Gogol Bordello and more) suggested it might be, yet there was no escaping the fact that, if you’re as caffiene dependent as I am it would have been a torturous weekend if there was no decent coffee available.
As you’re aware I’ve made life hard for myself following my boycott of any catering issued from a Citroen “H” van, but happily there were none of those to be seen here. My quest for coffee led me to the far side of the arena, where I encountered The Bean Machine and it so overawed me that I elected it to be my sole supplier of hot drinks for the entirety of the festival.
Click the jump to see why.

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Nathan Watton, the mind behind the existence of what you see before you, is a man of passion and a man with a healthy interest in old American cars.
The trailer wasn’t always as it looked now. It was originally some twenty feet longer, an Airstream 34 which had been imported into the UK, only to suffer a near terminal calamity involving a failed tow hitch. The Airstream became uncoupled and rolled over, causing terrible damage and inevitable write-off.
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It seemed that the scrapyard beckoned, until Nathan came along and the idea for The Bean Machine was born. Plans were drawn up and this 14′ towable Airstream coffee-shop was the result. The workmanship is impeccable to the point that it’s hard to imagine this not having left the factory in its current single-axle, 14′ guise.
Of course, a trailer is nothing without a tractor, and Nathan’s website shows The Bean Machine in tow behind a seriously awesome matt-black ’49 (I think) Ford pickup, but here at Beautiful Days it was being hauled by something I daresay far cooler than that.
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I’ve never seen one of these in the UK before. It completes the look quite nicely to have an Airstream towed by an Airstream, and this Argosy 20 seems a lot more compatible with British roads than the later, longer models that the firm produced.
It’s based on GM running gear, with the original 350 still in place. Nathan tells me that it’s pretty quick, which is an idea I like the sound of a whole lot.
I love the whole concept of this as a business premises; you have your working space and customer interface in the trailer, then your office and accommodation in the Argosy, combined with a V8 soundtrack if you get too bored.
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Seeing all this the first time rather distracted me from the task in hand which was to procure a cup of strong coffee by which to survive. I placed my order with Nathan, wondering whether the whole Airstream high I was on would implode on receiving a bland, forgettable beverage.
I need not have worried. My Americano (black, no sugar, obviously) arrived with an alluring crema and precisely the aroma and flavour that my jaded senses needed to shock me back to life. It was good coffee, and well priced, too.
If you’re at a festival in the UK and you spot an abbreviated Airstream hitched to, well, another one, head straight there. You can taste the Airstream. Well, you can’t….
But you kinda can.
(All images Copyright Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2015)

About RoadworkUK

RoadworkUK is the online persona of Gianni Hirsch, a tall, awkward gentleman with a home office full of gently decomposing paper and a garage full of worthless scrap metal. He lives in the village of Moistly, which is a safe distance from London and is surrounded by enough water and scenery to be interesting. In another life, he has designed, sold, worked on and written about cars in exchange for small quantities of money.

0 Comments

  1. I saw something similar at the 2014 Winter Park (FL) Concours D’Elegance. Minus the cool ass tow vehicle though. Nice find. I am sure you were surprised as hell to see that.

  2. Looking at the poster, in the post-rollover picture, the Airstream looks like it’s wearing a Texas trailer plate. And the guy standing next the GMC Sierra towing it looks like some kind of state trooper with a Smokey hat (but not a Texas DPS trooper, since they wear tan uniforms with cowboy hats). Did the rollover happen over here, while they were taking it to ship to the UK?

  3. I find your coffee van polemic oddly unconvincing. Might have been the lack of coffee… Make mine an Haiche.
    I’m appalled that the aluminum bodied Grumann Step-Van is not revered internationally, much less in the US of A. It was to delivery trucks, what their canoe was to canoes.
    As for Airstreams, they always made them in a variety of lengths.
    Meanwhile, I await my opportunity to dine at the Bedford Cafe.

    1. My coffee van polemic is unconvincing. I’m not even sure about it myself. I guess my problem with them is that I naively want every one I see to have been lovingly restored by its owner, but the huge majority are simply bought as ready-converted turn-key products with which to make money and a cottage industry exists to make sure that every remaining unrestored example ends up as yet another bloody coffee van.
      I know. It’s a ridiculous point of view

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