07 October 2022
Nigel Davis is on a mission to serve sustainable and top quality coffee out of his Defender 110. The fact that LRM’s editor is on his third cup of the day is proof that he’s succeeding...
There are a couple of things I don’t like about outdoor events. Bad coffee and unnecessary noise, like that of a never-been-serviced generator. Nigel Davis from Off Road Bean has made it his mission to eradicate these two from the great British countryside. He was once a man who thought he had it all, including the big-bucks job at a major bank and the large house.
Those two are now a goner and I bet Nigel is much happier. He is currently renovating a remote cottage and serving world-class cups of coffee out of a Defender 110 at shows. I caught up with him and his very efficient team at the recent Adventure Overland Show where I enjoyed a cuppa and a tour of Off Road Bean, his incredible Defender 110 which originally started out life as a standard TDCi 2.4 commercial.
I ask Nigel to rewind the clock a little and tell us how he went from working for a major bank to this. “I have always loved Land Rovers and now have four Defenders and a Discovery 4. I wanted to do something that involved the outdoors, coffee and people.” And that, coffee fans, is how Off Road Bean came about.
Sounds too easy, right? Allow me to explain. Nigel saw a Fracino dual-fuel coffee machine for sale on eBay, that the owner was going to be ripping out of a Defender. Nigel decided to buy the whole lot.
You can’t make a proper cup of coffee unless you have a proper coffee machine…
While Nigel has to dash off to serve show goers I take a stroll and observe the Off Road Bean team in action. They certainly look like a professional outfit. Everyone is in uniform, it all looks very tidy and there is branding everywhere. Just like at a bank.
In between fulfilling the ever-increasing number of incoming orders, I ask Nigel about the coffee and the process. “I went to Urban Espresso in the Cotswolds for a few sessions of training. They taught me how to grind and roast coffee the proper way. I tried a few different roasts while trying to get the perfect combo for the business and we now have a Brazil/Colombia blend that includes about five per cent of Fair Trade Arabica beans from Honduras.” Nigel only uses the freshest coffee, too, ordering and roasting it just a few days prior to each event.
Prices include the 22p it costs for compostable cups and lids
I take a quick look around the 110. I can see that it has reinforced hubs and he tells me the turbo and waterpump are both new. I note that all of the auxillary electrics have been replaced. It now has two 12 V lithium batteries and a Victron inverter that converts 12 V into 240 Watt power. There are extra water tanks as the coffee-making process needs lots of it. Nigel explains: “I have tried to create something that won’t let us down, no matter where in the wilderness we have to serve coffee. I want to be able to rock up anywhere and produce 300 cups of coffee using only what we have with us. This gives me the freedom to pick the shows that I want to do, where I want to go, and who I want to speak to.”
Off Road Bean has a smart-charging system that charges the batteries as Nigel drives along, and there’s a solar panel on the roof so that charging continues when the 110 is static. Thanks to Bluetooth Nigel is able to monitor battery power status 24/7. If something does go wrong, there is always the Honda suitcase-style back-up generator, but he tries not to use it – it’s for emergencies only.
Generator is used in emergencies only
There is loads of storage room in this commercial Defender but as some of that has now been taken up by the Fracino coffee machine, Nigel has also put storage boxes on the roof for some of the lighter stuff. To ensure that customers and workers stay comfortable and dry, there’s an ARB awning to keep both rain and sunlight away.
After spending an hour or two with Nigel I quickly realise that his business is built on three important philosophies. The first is the fact that it’s self-contained. The team brings everything they need, so no need for the show or event to provide a mains hook-up or generator. Secondly Nigel likes to be in stealth mode, so silent running is the only way for him. He achieves this through the lithium batteries and solar panels. Last but definitely not least, this is a sustainable business. Not only is this one of the best cups of coffee I have ever tasted (not just because it is served out of the side of a Land Rover) it is also the greenest, thanks to Nigel and his responsible forward-thinking. Both the lids and cups are compostable. This means that the materials they are made from will break down into non-toxic items. It also means that they are not cheap at 22p each. Remember this the next time you drink coffee from a compostable cup and want to complain about the price. Did I mention that the Defender also runs on LPG, a low carbon fuel?
Nigel Davis surveys his Land Rover-based coffee business
Another great thing about Off Road Bean is the fact that it offers the coffee grounds to customers who can use them as fire-lighters or compost. Coffee-infused lamb chops anyone? Before I head off to look at what else there is to see and do at the show, Nigel plonks another cappuccino in my hand. “We want to educate people about coffee and give them an experience.” If you love your Land Rovers and your high quality coffee, then you certainly can’t do any better than the Off Road Bean experience.
Off Road Bean
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