The project of Marin County-born brothers, Réveille Coffee is the mobile caffeine unit Tommy and Christopher Newbury started in early December. They turned a former DHL delivery truck--Tommy showed me a spot where the blazing yellow paint is still visible--into a minimalist's dream.
Beyond the clean black and white of the design, the only splashes of color are the pink and blue of the companies logo--that's Tommy's design--and the teak counters affixed to the truck's side by San Francisco woodworker Jeff Burwell.
"We knew we wanted to use teak," said Tommy, "because we needed something that would stand up to the elements."
Though I'd expected Tommy, who I visited yesterday afternoon for a cup of drip, to pay some lip service to the exploding food cart culture here in the Bay Area, he pointed to a French denim maker as a point of departure.
"A lot of our inspiration came from APC," he told me. "I like that really simple color scheme."
Inside the truck, which is all gleaming metal and battened down barista gear, Tommy told me that despite the confining digs he and his brother rarely bump into each other when manning their posts.
"That's the part of the design that took the longest, the layout," he said. "Everything in here has to be super efficient"
The biggest design limitation came in the form of health codes. Tommy noted that he can't prepare food near the window, or place the generator precisely where he wanted to because of the state's rules and regulations.
"The only time I bump into my brother is when I have to get milk from out of the fridge," he said. "I wanted the milk to be under the espresso machine, but because of codes we had to put the generator there."
On nice days the brothers put out wooden stools from Design Within Reach in hopes of getting customers to linger, a tough task in winter. A small teak bar runs not only down one side of the truck, but around their one bit of permanent infrastructure--a black cinder block shed they use for storage. Tommy reports that when people linger outside the truck they're much more likely to stand at that bar on the storage shed as opposed to the one on the side of the truck.
If you're in San Francisco, stop in to Réveille Coffee in the parking lot on Pacific St. between Sansome and Battery. They'll brew you up a fine cup of Four Barrel coffee, and answer any questions you've got about their truck.
Aaron writes the men's style column "The Pocket Square" for the San Francisco Chronicle and has written for the New York Times, the Times Magazine, Newsweek, National Geographic and others.
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