Man Lives and Sells Coffee out of his VW Bus


My name is Eric Gordon and I own
Carabiner Coffee. It’s the coffee shop that I run out of my van around the country. Carabiner Coffee started because I was a
climbing instructor doing that for about five years and it kind of got to the
point where I was done doing that but I still love the climbing community
obviously and started to get into coffee a little bit more and realized that
coffee could take me anywhere in the world and I could meet anybody that I ever
wanted to really so I figured if I could be the coffee guy for the
climbing community I would love to do that. I was looking to downsize life and
really simplify things and start to travel more and climb. I bought the van
off Craigslist after working in a coffee shop for about eight months, learned
everything I could. That was my first coffee shop I ever worked in. It was
feeling solid so I quit that shop and I started my own coffee business.
Breckenridge actually kicked me out for selling coffee on the side of the road.
The Forest Service found me and they’re like, “Dude.” First the the town wouldn’t
give me a business license because they didn’t allow anymore mobile vendors so I
went outside of town to the outskirts to the scenic lookouts and started selling
coffee there. The Forest Service found me and were like, “Sorry dude, dunzo”, so then I
moved to Seattle and started doing the whole official food truck deal. Welcome to Old Blue. This is the van that
I live in and I tour the country with and sell coffee. This is obviously the
living room and the coffee making area. This whole rig is solar-powered so I’ve
got like a panel up top. Goal Zero makes all this happen so all the coffee making
stuff, the sound system, got like a little home theater system kind of tucked away
in here so that makes it really nice to listen to music. I usually have just
a water jug in here, under there. I have coffee grinder, an electric kettle, then I
make pour overs and Aeropress with. When I’m just chilling this is the setup in
here. I usually have a cooler that I’m like sitting right here on and serving
coffee on a table but when I’m not it’s kind of folded out like this. Few pillows.
I always make sure I have The Uke because you’re gonna be on the road you
got to sing about it for sure. When I’m sleeping I actually developed this where
the back of of this pops out lays right here so this entire area becomes a
bed. Currently this is where all the clothes are stored in here, whenever I’m
on tour. Cooking to be honest I actually I do have like a jet boil and a double
burner Coleman but most of the time I will just pull up to a grocery store get
some groceries and eat right in the joint, in the parking lot of the grocery
store. I’m usually either traveling or like about to go camping
for a week I’m just like, ” Agh, it’d be nice to just like eat in the van”, so sometimes I
do that. Other times I actually there’s a little table as you’ll see in the back
of the van there that I like to set up the whole kitchen situation, but in the
winters you’re definitely just in here you know, sipping coffee and eating soup and stuff. For sure. One day I was selling coffee
and this guy he hands me this little tag and it says, “The universe has a message
for you. I love you.” Yeah this is the coffee mug that my dad hitchhiked with
for an entire decade back in the 70s. Yeah it has tons of stories attributed
to that and it’s kind of cool to have that with to you know just have kind of
a little legacy between me my dad of traveling and living on the road.
He’s definitely all about, he’s psyched that I chose to live in a van and sell
coffee, which is sweet. We’re all gonna die one day and it might be tomorrow it
might be when you’re 105, but I would say if you’re not living the life right
now that you are psyched to wake up and live, change it as soon as possible. Just,
you know, if that means quitting your job or if it means tweaking some things
getting rid of some negativity in your life just go for it and it might be
hard at first, but in the end, do you want to live the best story that you’ve
thought you ever could or do you want to you know wake up when you’re 90 and say
like, “Shit. I really should have done some different things.” Just, you know, put it all
out there. Live the dream. That’s what I would say to do. There’s a lot of things wrong with the
van as there are with these old, these old vans. I have let’s see like the
other day I was going down a mountain pass and my brakes started to smoke
really hard so like you got to pull over and I literally was dumping Nalgenes
on the two front brakes and then I just you know took a nap on the side
of the road so that’s kind of the average story of how I travel. My
flashers don’t work so and it’s like a pole switch so I’m literally when I’m
going up a mountain pass I’m in like second gear maybe going like 20 miles an
hour and I’m manually flashing my flashers. Also the blinkers don’t work or
like they don’t blink by themselves so I have to like flip the switch to blink
either way. Yeah I mean the engine has blown up once, for sure.
Yeah like the huge like the alternator pulley literally cracked in half and
just was whipping around in the engine compartment once. I had to like
run a red light and go park somewhere otherwise the van was going to start on
fire so um.

100 comments

This was thought provoking and well put: "If you're not living a life right now that you are psyched to wake up each morning and live, change it as soon as possible." and "In the end, do you want to live the best story that you thought you ever could?". Thank you.

FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS.  You may seriously want to consider fixing the problems so  you can travel freely to achieve your dream locations. Make/sale coffee to further invest in yourself and possibly, if you're open o the idea……create a franchise. jus sayn.  Much love and success to  you brother.  I think a BUS would be a perfect fit for living and business.

For Gary J: You just can't SHUT UP. It seems to me s a "former" corporate guy you seem to need to be in charge, and can't stand it if everybody doesn't agree with you. Also, you are fixated on cleanliness–sort of Howard Hughesian. So, GO AWAY. Nobody here is interested in your sour spewings.

If you ever need some mechanical advice, contact me as i know these vans quite well. You are probably a decent mechanic anyway if you travel around in a vw bus. 🙂 right on man stay safe.

Lame, I used to know an old guy who travelled to all of the Rainbow events and gave people FREE coffee. His name was "Mud". But then again, Mud was from a real generation that once worked for a living and had his own money in the bank.

Actually these kinds of businesses are working pretty good. Here, where I live, old VW buses are being restored as food trucks. This is the first time I see a camper-food truck though.

I'm sorry but all these folks who have vans ( including naming them) are talking out of their arse in re to what life is all about. I own my house and I walk to work, I provide for my family and We love driving off into the country side for little adventures – I don't feel the need to sell everything I own to Pursue a pipe dream in a van. It might be appealing now but perhaps you should return to some of them in 10 years and see how they are doing… seems pretty lonely and reckless imo.

I don't think it's right to put other drivers in danger just because Namaste Coffee Guy isn't able to maintain his vehicle properly.
Maybe when an accident occurs and disfigures/kills a kid then at 90 he can recall and say "I should have done something different about my scrap on wheels"

So the Law would stop him from making his own living unless he paid paid paid. lol. There is no freedom and independence in the usa. The dream is dead.

This guy's vibe and story is awesome. ✨ I want to support this rad local biz but I can't find the current vend spot in Seattle. If anyone knows, help a sister out. Such a dope set up–Working from home and where you want to be. Dreams! ✨🙌🏽🌱

Hi Erik, compliments for your idea: spread "caffè" culture with your van! Greetings from Italy, here we drink a lot of Espresso, also in our Van! =)

This gave me chills. Hit so close to my ideas 💡. Live the dream. Great content 😌. Every #vanlife video I watch they all seem peaceful and happy.

Isn't there food safety laws that prevent him from serving coffee out of the same area he sleeps in, as well as the fact that a VW van isn't a food truck? Jw

THAT'S GOOD, YOU CAN DO ANY BUSINESS YOU LIKE, BECAUSE GOD SEES YOU HAVING A HOLY BUSINESS AND EVERYBODY LOVES COFFEE, I THINK GOD LOVES COFFEE TOO, THE BIBLE SAYS YOU CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHICH STRENTHENS YOU, AND GOD IS YOUR LICENSE, GOD SAYS IN THE BIBLE, HE OWNS ALL THE CATTLES AND ALL THE EARTH, YOU HAVE FAVOR WITH THE LORD JESUS CHRIS. BLESS YOU, ENJOY, I'M GOING TO OPEN UP A REYES GOSPEL CAFE TOO.

Let's do pizza around the nation in a mini VW van. Live and make pizza on the go. Sell by the slice. Hit every state. That would be cool.

Never try to cool your brakes by pouring water on them. It can warp & crack your brake rotors. Just pull over and let them cool off

𝖦𝗎𝗒s 𝖨 𝖿𝗈𝗎𝗇𝖽 𝖺 𝗏𝖾𝗋𝗒 𝗀𝗈𝗈𝖽 𝗐𝖾𝖻𝗌𝗂𝗍𝖾 𝖺𝖻𝗈𝗎𝗍 𝗐𝗈𝗈𝖽𝗐𝗈𝗋𝗄𝗂𝗇gg 𝗍𝗁𝖺𝗍 𝗂𝗌 >> https://t.co/YSI7q2P4iX?geret54aa 𝗍𝗁𝗂𝗌 𝗐𝖾𝖻𝗌𝗂𝗍𝖾 𝖼𝗈𝗇𝗍𝖺𝗂𝗇ss 𝗆𝗈𝗋𝖾 𝗍𝗁𝖾𝗇 𝟣𝟤𝟢𝟢𝟢 𝗐𝗈𝗈𝖽𝗐𝗈𝗋𝗄𝗂𝗇𝗀 𝗌𝗁𝖾𝖽 𝗉𝗅𝖺𝗇𝗌. 𝖱𝖾𝖼𝗈𝗆𝗆𝖾𝗇𝖽𝖾𝖽dd. 3573

The sign on your van of your logo,what is it made from and who did brotherlove? Love it man if you make it to the East Coast plz come find me I'm in Connecticut. Huge coffee fan and a huge yard for the van!!! ANYTIME💚❤💛

What licenses to you need? Do you need a food handler's license an inspection of a commercial kitchen, in this case, your van?

I saw a convo van like this in El Salvador 🇸🇻 while I travelling there. It was one of the coolest things I saw on my way to a hike to a inactive volcano 🌋

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