Coffee To-Go | Food + Drink Features | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Published September 28, 2006 at 4:43 p.m.

No time for a mid-morning coffee run? Call - or email - the "Mobile Barista," Chittenden County's caffeinated Good Humor Man. With a fully equipped coffee van, Erik Olsen delivers hot java, fruit smoothies and freshly steeped tea to offices in Colchester, South Burlington and Winooski. On weekends he brings the buzz to fairs and craft shows, offering up macchiatos, Americanos and thermal carafes of steaming Guatemalan Coban and shade-grown Ecuadorian "Puyango."

Olsen wasn't looking to get into the mobile coffee business when he discovered a retrofitted coffee van for sale on eBay; the former web designer was actually searching for a home espresso maker. But the business "just appealed to me," he says. He bought the van, did some work on the interior, and launched the Mobile Barista about two and a half months ago.

Olsen, a self-trained barista, is a stickler for quality ingredients and proper procedures. Most of the coffee he sells is fair trade organic, and he roasts it all himself - with the exception of the decaf espresso blend. A timer ensures that each shot of espresso takes exactly 25 seconds to brew. The resulting infusion is rich, enticingly bitter and topped with a thick layer of crema - one sign of a well-made cup.

Burlington businesses won't get their buzzes until winter - at the earliest. And the city won't let Olsen go door-to-door, which could put a crimp in his business plan. Officials want him to park and peddle, à la Beansies, but moving among four Queen City locations. By then Olsen plans to have a "serious commercial roaster" on board and be selling beans by the pound.