‘I’ve spent £10k turning my old Fiat Panda into a giant drivable coffee machine’ | UK | News

A man who spent 18 years working in theatre has launched his own coffee business – by spending £10,000 converting a 33-year-old Fiat Panda into a coffee bar.

Brendan Cull, 39, has decided to take the plunge into the competitive mobile coffee market while continuing his career in theatre.

While converting a vehicle into a coffee bar is nothing new, as Citroen H-vans can regularly been seen roaming the streets of London now, converting a family hatchback is.

Furthermore, while these mobile coffee bars may seem a little strange at first, they are effective business models, allowing small business owners to set up shop without literally setting up shop for a modest outlay.

What’s more their manoeuvrability means these be-wheeled baristas can expand their horizons from riverside pitch to festival patch.

While the majority of Mr Cull’s experience has been in theatre, he has worked as a barista to supplement his income. Now he has decided to take the plunge and take his love of coffee on the road with Bianca, a red 1990 Fiat Panda.

Speaking to Express.co.uk about his decision to set up the business, Mr Cull said: “I started a sourdough business during lockdown and fantasised about a mobile coffee bar. Three years later I finally took the plunge.”

On why he chose the Panda, Mr Cull said he “wanted to find something unique and quirky that could house a simple coffee setup”.

He added: “The Fiat ticked all those boxes. It’s cheap to run, the angle of the boot means I can get better access to the espresso machine and it’s cute as hell.”

Although he has installed a coffee machine, generator, and storeroom in the back of the Panda, Mr Cull said he had to make very few changes to get it to fit.

He explained: “The biggest modification is we had to modify the structure of the inside and remove the back seats, but that’s pretty much it.”

Now the Panda has match fit and ready to go, Mr Cull said he is beginning to plan his strategy for 2024, one which he hopes will see him and his Panda travel around the UK.

He said: “My plan is to find a local weekday pitch where it will operate like your local cafe and then hopefully small events and weddings at the weekend. Occasionally a day off! So far I have only done one small event but I have a number of irons in the fire for the new year.”

Fortunately for Mr Cull, he has gotten off to a flying start with the public responding positively to the sight of him and Bianca.

He said: “People have certainly responded to the look and conversion which is exactly what I wanted. I wanted to build something I was passionate about that I could run alongside my theatre work.”

As well as talking Express.co.uk through his Panda, he also allowed Express.co.uk to get behind the wheel. Once there we discovered that despite being 33 years old, the car drove well with light steering, a good clutch, and just enough power to keep this pseudo-hybrid at a cruise.

In a world where there are concerns about the health of actual Pandas, in the automotive world it is a relief to see cars such as Mr Cull’s Bianca being saved from the scrap heap and given a new lease of life.

Mr Cull and Bianca can be found on Instagram @redpandacoffee90

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