1969 Citroen HY van helps Nomad Coffee create buzz in Vancouver

A new Vancouver coffee truck offers espresso drinks out of a 1969 Citroen HY van that owner Hayley Bennett had shipped here from Amsterdam and refurbished. You can find Bennett serving the drinks in the van at 610 Esther St., near the roundabout in front of Vancouver City Hall. The business is taking a new angle to other coffee shops, focusing on the appeal of the van, an aesthetic Instagram presence and a rotating type of bean and special drink -- playing off the signature "Nomad" drink; an oat milk latte with honey-vanilla-chamomile syrup.

Bennett, 27, was born and raised near Los Angeles. She attended culinary school in San Francisco, where she "loved hearing people's stories and seeing customers," she said. "Everyone is so different." When she and her husband moved to Vancouver in 2019, she wanted to do something new, she said.

In her culinary arts experience, coffee was one of the best ways to connect with customers. She began searching for a truck. Bennett's sister, who was in London at the time, sent a video of a Citroen HY van, and Bennett knew that she wanted one for Vancouver.

"Trying to find a European truck in 2020 was hard," she said. "I found it in Amsterdam. I had to deal with the time difference and the language difference. Not being able to see, and just believing what it was in pictures -- I kind of just went for it."

The "bare bones" truck, which cost about £24,000, shipped in 2020 and took eight months to reach the U.S.

Bennett enlisted the help of Russ Golovko, founder of Vancouver coffee cart Twin Cylinders, to build out the interior counters and cabinets. The total cost of the truck, fabrication, materials and licensing was around £75,000, said Bennett. Although the truck is from far away, she tries to source most of her ingredients from the Northwest.

"My whole purpose coming from the culinary world is focus on local ingredients," she said. "I want other businesses to get the opportunity to shine." Part of the reason Bennett chose the name Nomad was "to bring the romantic idea of adventure to coffee," she said. "There are so many roasters, syrups and flavors you don't ever think might go well with coffee."

The hours are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, although there is a likelihood that it will change.

Nomad's location is likely to always be in that Esther Street spot, except for private events that Bennett can drive to and serve.

"I'm curious to see where this goes," she said.