Meet the Coffee Land Rover - taking espresso into the Scottish backcountry

The Bonnie Mountain Coffee Land Rover

The Bonnie Mountain Coffee Land Rover

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I don’t think it’s a coincidence that some of the best snowboarding experiences of my life have either started or finished with a really good cup of coffee. Take my first ever day touring on a split snowboard, when I first properly appreciated the limitless possibilities of wandering off the beaten track. I was in Revelstoke, British Columbia, staying with my friend Anna, who had worked out her life so she could spend half the year at home in Tasmania and the other half in BC’s greatest ski town. This was before they built the Revelstoke mega-resort, so at this time the local skiing community consisted entirely of hardcore powder hounds, fully committed to earning their turns – super-fit MacGyver types who rightly looked down their noses at “pie-ass resort skiers” like me. Somehow, Anna had found me an old-school Burton splitboard via a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend, and I was excited to give it a try. The avalanche risk was off the scale – I’d arrived in Revvie during the mother of all blizzards – so the plan was to stay low and complete a fairly modest, easy-angled route well below the tree line.

Trouble was, at this early stage in my snowboarding life I didn’t know much about breathable gear: my bargain-basement salopettes were about as breathable as Tesco bags, and the various cotton layers I was wearing under my plastic-fantastic ski jacket were destined to become permanently saturated as soon as the going got steep, which it did almost as soon as we left the trailhead. Being new to splitboarding I didn’t really understand the concept of glide either, so instead of using the planks on my feet as cross-country skis I treated them like an extra-heavy pair of snowshoes, lifting them clean out of the snow with every step and slapping them down again. Suffice to say, when I eventually made it to the top of the trail I’d lost about a stone in sweat, but the run back down a wide open glade in fresh, knee-deep powder was so good that it made me an instant convert. From that moment on, all I really wanted to do was repeat that experience again and again, only if possible with less bodily fluids lost along the way.

Of course, when you’re dehydrated coffee’s the last thing you should be drinking, but back in Revvie we all piled into a cafe on the town’s main drag and I had a huge, wonderful, slightly malty latte that was so delicious I swear I can still taste it now. In fact, I would go so far as to say that without that reviving cup of nectar my day wouldn’t have felt complete.

However, just as a really great cup of coffee can be the crowning glory to a perfect snow day, so a slightly disappointing cup can take the shine off. It doesn’t matter how much hero snow has fallen overnight – not even three or four (or five) polystyrene cups of weak-ass Colorado motel coffee can get you in the mood like a single, full-bodied Austrian Großer Brauner. Get the coffee right, in other words, and everything else will usually fall into place.

All of which brings us, in an admittedly roundabout way, to the Bonnie Mountain Coffee Land Rover – a fantastic innovation that I first discovered a few weeks ago at the wedding of two friends at Comrie Croft in Perthshire. Devised and operated by James Robb and Bonnie Colburn, it’s more or less what it says on the tin: a beautiful all-white Land Rover Defender 110 with the rear section converted to accommodate a Fracino Barrista machine. James and Bonnie serve speciality coffee from Perthshire-based Highland Coffees, supplied by Hansen’s Kitchen deli in Comrie, and having liberally sampled their products the morning after the wedding I can confirm that it is as good a start to the day as you could hope to find anywhere.

The duo will be kick-starting the mornings of mountain bikers riding the various trails around Comrie Croft until the end of March, and they are also hoping to take their mobile coffee shop to some more remote locations in the months ahead. The Lawers of Gravity freeride ski and snowboard contest in the Ben Lawers Range is one possibility they’re exploring, and as a regular attendee I would be particularly delighted if that one worked out. Theoretically, though, they can take Grade-A coffee anywhere you can drive a Land Rover – which is most places. So next time you’re a long way from civilisation and you see a white Defender 110 hove into view, why not head on over and ask if they can make you a latte? I promise it will taste better than whatever you’ve got in your Thermos.

*The Bonnie Mountain Coffee Land Rover, http://tinyurl.com/zztd9yf

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