It’s fair to say that WWII devastated France and with it, its industry. Commercial vehicles were in high demand but in short supply and coupled with the scarcity of materials, Citroën acted quickly by diving into the spares bin of the Traction Avant and seeing what they could conjure up from minimal tooling, design and crucially, materials.

It may not look like it but the HY was the first mass-produced commercial van to have a monocoque construction with the body and chassis designed to be fully integrated with each other. It also featured rack and pinion steering, side-loading, independent suspension all round and a hefty load limit of 1.2 (later 1.6) tonnes. It would take the best part of four decades for this to become standard kit in the UK.

When it was launched onto an unsuspecting public in 1947, it was hoovered up by the armed forces, the police, builders, shop owners, butchers and all sorts of people who needed to shift goods and produce from one place to another.

Between 1947 and the time they ceased production in 1981, Citroën made 473,289 HY vans, mainly in factories in France and Belgium, almost exclusively in left-hand drive and the vast majority were sold there and in the Netherlands. A very small number of HYs were assembled in Slough and there are rumours of a single surviving right-hand drive example somewhere in the UK…

Interesting fact: In France, the HY is known as ‘nez de cochon’ or ‘pig’s nose’ but when the police used them, it was known as ‘panier à salade’, or ‘salad basket’.

The corrugated body was inspired from the Junkers airplane from Germany. The ribbing in the sheet metal added strength but no weight and the manufacturing process was simple and cost-effective with the engines changing very little during the entire 44 year run. Citroën used just two 1.9-litre four cylinder petrol engines as well as a 1.6-litre for the second iteration. They made a noisy diesel version with a little more torque but they could all cruise at a steady 55-60 mph.

The early vans had a VW Camper-esque split-screen but in 1964 it was swapped for a single piece of glass. There were other style changes over the years, such as a bigger rear window, the nose cone was flattened and the round wheel arches became squared but all in all, the HY van is a genuine cult classic that will be fondly remembered for re-energising an entire nation.

Recyclable cups? Yes, but no

When I started my business it was important to me that I was kind to the environment. As an owner-operator, it’s easy for me to control every aspect of what I do so I figured it would be easy enough to collect all my used milk containers, cans and as many used coffee cups and lids as possible and recycle them. 

I chose a recyclable cup and lid which I pay a premium for and naturally believed that these cups, as the name suggests, are fully recyclable, but this simply isn’t the case. The cups still have plastic liners which means they end up being rejected at recycling plants and end up in landfill or being incinerated.  

Britain gets through 2.5 billion coffee cups every year, and the number is set to increase. But despite a growing clamour for coffee chains to make their cups more environment-friendly, the vast majority are used only once, which is a considerable waste of natural resources.

One company vying to produce a truly recyclable alternative claims that the UK’s love of coffee is responsible for the felling of a million trees a year! An independent study it commissioned suggests that almost 1.5 billion litres of water go into making the cups the UK uses annually.

A 2017 report found that only one in 400 cups end up being recycled, with the vast majority going straight to landfill. This suggests that coffee cups that end up in the UK’s landfill sites produce an annual carbon footprint equivalent to over 152,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, similar to what 33,300 cars produce in a year.

But a major issue for the industry is that even cups promoted as compostable cannot be recycled conventionally. They have to be transported by lorry to one of the UK’s 53 high-temperature industrial composting facilities, which increases their carbon footprint.

“The problem with conventional, coated and compostable cups is that they’re all made from virgin paper, and the laminated plastic coating is very hard to remove,” said Malcolm Waugh, chief executive of Frugalpac, an Ipswich-based company that produces an alternative called the Frugal Cup, which is made almost totally from recycled paper, and which funded the study.

“Our answer was to redesign the cup by scrapping the laminated virgin paperboard and instead make the cup out of 96% recycled paper with no waterproofing chemicals, and then lightly attach a separately made plastic food grade liner. Not perfect yet but a damn sight better than the alternatives.”

It’s predicted that using cups made from recycled paper would save a million trees a year in Britain and more than 200 million worldwide.

Producing a truly recyclable coffee cup is a key issue for environmental groups. The WWF forecasts that by 2030 the UK will use 33% more cups than it does now.

Armed with this new information and understanding I plan to make the change over to a much more environmentally friendly alternative as soon as possible. The latest cups are either 100% home compostable which means they naturally decompose in a short space of time, or are completely plastic-free. An infinitely better solution.

I also buy cups from responsible companies who invest heavily into planting new trees to replace the ones that are used in production, often at a 3:1 ratio which is great to know.

My biggest ambition is to get my customers using reusable cups wherever possible but with the current COVID situation they really aren’t safe for coffee shops to use, but watch this space. I have a branded, fully recyclable, reusable cup ready to roll out as soon as things start to improve.

We’re Expanding & Need You!

Sussex Coffee Trucks has had an incredibly successful first year trading despite all the difficulties the world has seen with Covid 19 and is looking to expand.

Speciality Coffee

The original business plan was based around the events market but sadly this hasn’t been possible so far due to cancellations and health and safety restrictions. As a result, I’ve focussed solely on my regular pitches and these are now well established. But I can’t be in two places at once, so I’m planning my next truck.

With two coffee trucks, I can maintain continuity with all my existing pitches whilst being able to attend as many local events as possible which would be fantastic for everyone.

But I need another me. A coffee lover. Preferably a trained barista with high volume coffee shop experience. Someone whos driven to succeed. Someone professional. Hard working. With a keen eye for detail. Excellent customer service skills. Able to solve problems quickly and efficiently. Someone with a full UK driving license whos not worried about driving a left hand drive 3.5 tonne food truck slowly around the county and who can do so responsibly and sympathetically! Someone who wouldn’t mind doing back to back 10/12 hour days, making and serving exceptional drinks and home made cakes, ensuring perfection each and every time.

And what would this person receive in return? Well, they’d have the opportunity to effectively run their own business. Once they understand the way I want things done they get to work alone without a boss breathing down their neck. They would build their own relationships with their own customers and attend as many events as they wanted. They would have the opportunity to shape things and would be key to business success for years to come.

And what about money? Well, the sky is literally the limit. I’d put a generous day rate together for the successful candidate plus a realistic and attractive bonus scheme based on turnover. So the more your able to take on the day, the more you’ll make! Simple as that.

Interested? Think you’d be a great candidate for this role? Then get in touch!

Filter Coffee – Brew Guide

I’m going to keep this really short and simple.

Filter coffee done right is absolutely lush.

I’d go as far as saying that I prefer it to espresso-based drinks when you extract the flavour from an incredible bean in the right way. But like so many things there are a few basic rules to follow that make the difference between something wonderful and something awful. This guide is really for electric machines.


Arguably, grinders are the most important element in creating great tasting coffee. If your fancy beans aren’t ground correctly, your fancy machine won’t be able to make good coffee, so I would consider doing one of two things. Either buy your beans from a trusted roaster like Lindfield Coffee Works and have them grind your beans for you, or buy yourself an awesome little grinder to use at home like the Wilfa Svart The great thing with this grinder is it’s capable of grinding every possible grinding style with the exception of espresso, so it’s very versatile for all your brewing techniques. (More details about this in another post)


There are many, but the principles are the same for all. Water gets heated and then dumped onto the coffee grounds. The water then drips through the grounds and through a filter paper and is collected in a container. If you have an old machine knocking about, just fish it out, give it a clean and your good to go. If you want to buy one and your really keen then I’d recommend either the Moccamaster KBG Or the Wilfa Classic +

Filter papers:

I’d recommend using a size 4 paper. The white ones are best in my opinion. I always fold down the edges of my papers to allow a precise fit and I also rinse them out with warm water once they are in the basket. Makes a huge difference in the way the grounds settle and prevents leaks and poor extraction.


Always use the coldest water you can. Filtered water is preferable. Personally, I tend to never brew less than 1/2 litre at a time. I find this works best with my recipe and I can normally slurp that up on my own first thing in the morning, either all in one or over a 30 minute period. (Anything you brew is only good for around 45 minutes anyway)


You probably have a kitchen scale already. This will do nicely. It’s very important to be exact with the quantities of coffee and water so do ALWAYS WEIGH YOUR BEANS!

It’s not rocket science. Turn the scale on (if digital) Put a container on the scale and then tare it to zero. Then put the correct amount of beans in. Simple.


Huge variances are here as you’d expect. With filter I’d recommend using something truly different to anything you’d normally use in espresso-based drinks. Ethiopian tends to work really well as it’s very floral. Columbian and Costa Rica are some other favourites. Experiment! That’s the fun part.


  1. OK, so I’ve gone on about all the elements needed. Let’s explain how to do it. As I’ve said, I like to do 1/2 litre at a time so this recipe is for that amount of filter coffee. To make more or less coffee then just adjust your coffee and water amounts accordingly. Each coffee is different so that’s where the fun is really. Playing around with the coarseness of the grind and the quantities used, but to keep things simple I’d recommend using around 60 grams of beans for each litre of coffee made, so for half a litre we need to half that quantity. So 30 grams of beans.
  2. Grind them using the filter setting on your grinder or ask your local trusted shop to do it for you.
  3. Get a size 4 filter and fold down both edges. Open it up and place into the filter basket. Then gently run warm water around the filter coating it all to ensure it’s correctly in position. Empty out the surplus water. 
  4. Carefully tip your coffee grounds into the filter basket and place in your machine. 
  5. Then, I like to preheat my container. Often these are glass jugs so they strike cold. A quick rinse with really hot water just gets the chill off and means your hot coffee will keep it’s temperature. 
  6. Pour 1/2 litre of cold water into your machine and then turn it on. After a few seconds it will start to hiss and spit and finally the hot water starts to find it’s way to the basket. 
  7. Now I know these machines are called automatic coffee makers but this is the important part of the process. The part where the flavour is extracted! So don’t leave it to chance. Once there is some water mixing with your coffee grounds I like to agitate. I use a large metal spoon and I gently dig down to the bottom of the grounds and turn them over in the water. Just once or twice is good. Then wait for another 30 seconds and do it again. Then leave it to finish what it’s doing.

That’s about it! When it’s ready, give the coffee a long, deep sniff. The notes of each bean are so different and I always enjoy this part. It’s a great teaser as to what’s going to be in your cup!

Whether you like to drink your filter black or white, I’d always recommend tasting a small amount black just to truly give a clear picture of what you’ve brewed.

Then pour it into your favourite mug and enjoy.

I love sharing my pleasure with my wife by pouring her a cup too. She’s no expert when it comes to coffee but she’s fascinated by the differences from one cup to the next.

Enjoy! Any questions? Email me.

Everything’s ‘ground’ to a halt

According to Wikipedia ‘A pandemic is an epidemic occurring on a scale that crosses international boundaries, usually affecting people on a worldwide scale’
That sums up our current situation pretty well I’d say.
Apparently the leaders of the world knew about such risks and had made provision. I, on the other hand, had not.

Maybe it’s just me, but I was too busy spinning all the various plates life had given me to make ‘provision’ for a worldwide pandemic. Starting a new coffee truck business had taken up my whole focus. And of course on top of that were all my family responsibilities. I was aware of the term of course. And knew it was being talked about in the press, but it really wasn’t until the week before lockdown that I started to see it as something that could actually affect me, my business and local community so acutely.
Things were going great for me. I’d launched Sussex Coffee Trucks and had built quite a local following. I’d finally got my license through for the National Trust car park on top of Ditching Beacon and had really started to build momentum.
The car park was getting busier every day. More and more people were hearing about this great new coffee truck serving delicious drinks and cake right on the South Downs Way. Things were getting very busy actually with me selling out of most things every day and even running out of water and milk on occasion. I remember one day in particular that despite running out of everything I still had a queue just for black coffee and tea from what little water remained in the coffee machine boiler! It was crazy and I couldn’t have been happier.
The weekend before lockdown I did event support for the Moyleman off road marathon. Providing coffee and cake for all the 300 runners at the start. And then there was a kind of finish area party at Harvey’s Brewery in Lewes. There must have been 1000 people there all dancing and chatting in the sunshine. It was awesome and was my busiest day ever!
Absolutely unthinkable to imagine at the time that it would be the last large scale gathering I’d witness for many, many months.

The call came on the afternoon of 23rd March. It was my contact at National Trust. I was busier than ever but I’d been dreading this moment. She told me she had some bad news. That they had decided to close all their car parks to help enforce the social distancing policy the government was recommending. She said that I could expect an announcement from the Prime Minister later that day and that a lockdown was imminent.
It was a huge shock and I struggled to comprehend what I was facing.
My business had been killed. Shot dead just as it was starting to flourish. Schools were closing. Travel was limited. Total lockdown. Impossible.

And so it all began. Our kids (6 years old and 2 years old) no longer had to be dropped off at school and nursery. They were to remain home and be looked after by their parents.
My wife is a physiotherapist so her hours remained intact, so I found myself the main carer overnight. We started home schooling as best as we could and had our daily routine of exercise, school work, play and a walk around the block.
My wife would do some running. I’d do some cycling. We hung out in the garden and compared notes with all our friends and family on the impossible nature of our lives, all the time thankful for our health whilst listening to the news reports in horror of the increasing daily death toll this disease was having on our country.

After a couple of weeks of this I was getting very restless. It dawned on me that I was in possession of the perfect vehicle to help raise moral at my local hospital. Who wouldn’t be cheered up and encouraged by a free coffee? The idea was born but I wasn’t clear how I could pursue it. Who should I contact to ask permission? And would they see it as a help or a hinderance? I fired off lots of emails and used local Facebook groups to ask questions and track down names and numbers, and finally got a meeting set up with the boss. I drove down in the coffee truck and met with the crew. I explained my situation and how I simply wanted to help the NHS at this difficult time. They were extremely thankful and a plan was put into place. My friend Kris from Lindfield Coffee Works supplies me with coffee and I reached out to him with the idea and he was super excited by it. “It sure beats standing outside clapping” he said, and he was right. Kris very kindly offered to help out with coffee supply and even said he could do a few shifts too.
So all of a sudden the plan was ready to roll out. I ordered up all the bits I needed. Cups, lids, bags, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, flavoured syrups etc and started to try and figure out a plan for milk. This was the biggest problem really as supply was limited. The only way I could get enough was to drive around from shop to shop, garage to garage, collecting as much as possible. With everything in place I gave the truck a nice clean and was ready for the first shift.

The first shift was a Saturday. I arrived in plenty of time and started setting up. Word had gotten round about this free coffee offering and in no time a few people started approaching to see what was going on. I explained that it would take me around 25 minutes to set up and get the boiler up to temperature and people happily waited in anticipation.
By the time I was ready for service I already had a queue! A respectful, socially distanced one as you’d expect.
The first customer was served at 10:30am and I had a solid queue until 16:20 when I finally ran out of milk and even coffee! I’d been incredibly busy and served over 350 drinks on the first shift! Everyone was delighted and morale had been visibly boosted. Such a great feeling and I felt incredibly proud to have made it happen, with a little help from my friends.

If you would like to donate to my fundraiser click here

Why start a coffee truck?

Freedom. I guess that’s the word that sums up my new business and the model that attracted me in the first place.
To be free to focus on what’s important to me.
In life. In business. In the community. In nature.

Having run a bike shop and cafe in Brighton station for almost 5 years I had first hand experience of the realities of small business in modern times.
I was drawn into starting that business for the same reasons. Passion really. For cycling and good coffee, and for bringing people together through sport and friendship. It was an incredibly exciting time and very satisfying. I managed to carve out a unique business in a busy market place and became really well known and loved for creating a safe place for cyclists of all abilities to come together and have their bikes fixed or upgraded. The cafe side was a nice bolt on to the bike side of things and drew people in from all walks of life. It was a wonderful time and we had great success over the years growing from being pretty much a ‘one man band’ to having a few full time staff and a loyal following.
However, what I struggled with was the scaleability of the business and the negative economic effects that had on a small premises with limited space. To consolidate, the busier I got, the less profit I made, and with rising annual fixed costs as well as ludicrously cheap online bike parts being sold, we could only make money on labour. And we couldn’t turn over enough bikes to pay the bills.
Acknowledging this took me about 18 months if I’m honest. It was similar to being in a relationship you loved but knew, deep down, wouldn’t last. I didn’t have a plan B and just ploughed on with it until the end of the road.

I closed N+1 in November 2019 I was keen to acquire another local cafe and pursued this until the opportunity was lost. I found myself just before Christmas with dwindling capital and absolutely no idea what to do next. I started considering getting a job and conforming. I reached out to a few companies but wasn’t overwhelmed by their response. It seemed that having been successfully self employed for over 12 years didn’t exactly make me a great candidate!

Then, one night my wife Jenny and I were talking. Trying to figure out the next step. What about a coffee van we thought?
It was literally a light bulb moment. It shed light on an otherwise desperate future. So I started researching and it all started to come together. I can’t really put my finger on why it felt so right but I think again it comes down to the freedom of it. The idea of investing into an asset like a coffee truck rather than channelling that money into rent, rates, staff and alike was also a major attraction. Once set up and trading I knew that my running costs would be relatively low in comparison to running a cafe or shop. Plus, I had the confidence in knowing that if the idea didn’t take off I’d have an asset to sell giving me a sense of security and safety to pursue the idea full gas.

So that’s what I did. And despite currently being in a nationwide lockdown, I’m so glad I took that step. I only managed to trade for around 6 weeks before having to put things on hold due to the pandemic, but the growth I experienced in that time and the love and support offered from everyone truly blew my mind. I literally couldn’t make the coffees fast enough and the feedback was excellent.
And the cherry on the cake (or should I say the chocolate sprinkles on the cappuccino) was being able to have Ditching Beacon as my home and office. A beauty spot like that is such a pleasure to hang out in. It’s an amazing spot with incredible views and genuinely it’s own weather! And the people are absolutely spot on. Everybody that finds themselves up on the Beacon share so much in common and I couldn’t be happier there. I hope to be back as soon as I can but in the mean time I’ll be thinking of ways to improve on what I’m already doing and would welcome your thoughts and feedback.