Kirstin of the Little Green Van talks to us about their coffee shop on wheels on Edinburgh’s Portobello Prom – where they serve up our luxury hot chocolate, delicious coffees and tasty treats…
We would love to know more about the Little Green Van, could you sum up your company in one or two sentences?
Kirstin: It is the two of us – myself and my partner Terry – plus our bright green vintage Citroen HY van, on the Promenade in Portobello (Edinburgh’s seaside), serving the best drinks and snacks we possibly can.
When did the Little Green Van begin trading?
Kirstin: We’ve been going about three and a half years. We always joke that we’ll get the hang of it eventually, but it’s true – you never stop learning, you never stop trying to improve.
Which idea came first: the van, or selling coffee?
Kirstin: Both at the same time. We love good coffee, we’d thought about a café and we knew where we wanted to be based. But the only option was a van.
You’re based on Portobello Promenade, Edinburgh – why that location?
Kirstin: We live 10 minutes’ walk from where we’re based on the Prom. For years, like hundreds of other families and couples, we had been walking along the Prom, with kids and dogs. There was then only one other place on the Prom which was always busy and tricky with kids and dogs, so we just thought: Aha! What’s needed is a coffee van!
Which of your products is a personal favourite (aside from the Pittenweem Company hot chocolate, of course!)?
Kirstin: I think it has to be a coffee. An espresso, a flat white, or a piccolo latte. We use Artisan Roast beans, and as well as their standard house blend, Janszoon, we always have some single-estate alternatives and they can be sensational.
Food-wise, we have recently started selling empanadillas – little savoury Spanish pasties – which we make, and which are proving really popular.
And all the hot chocolates are gorgeous. But if we had to choose one it would be the Himalayan pink salt & caramel.
How do you find all the lovely products you sell?
Kirstin: We have a rule that we only sell things we really like personally, That makes it easy to be enthusiastic about everything you have.
What’s your favourite aspect of your day-to-day job?
Kirstin: There are two things: firstly the regular customers, many of whom are now good friends. There are periods, sometimes two or three hours on a cold, grey morning, when we are busy and almost every customer is a regular who we know by name. And secondly, those times when a customer comes back to the van 10 minutes after buying something to tell you how great it was. It makes it all worthwhile.
Any upcoming events where our readers might find you / any events at Portobello going on soon?
Kirstin: We don’t go anywhere except Portobello Promenade. We’d feel we were letting our regulars down if we deserted them for another event elsewhere. There’s always something going on in Portobello, particularly in summer.
And finally, where can our readers find you online?
Kirstin: We don’t do a lot of online or social media promotion. OK, being truthful, we don’t do any. We quite like it when people “discover” us by chance. And our regulars don’t need us to be continually bombarding them with “menu spam”. We occasionally post a nice pic of the view from the van on Twitter, that’s about it: @littlegreenvan1