Java pop-up in a little box: new Edmonton coffee shop built in shipping container

Edmonton’s new mobile coffee shop, called YEG Coffee Can, has set up its digs in a converted Sea Can. It’s offerings include beans roasted locally and doughnuts made in at independent bakery.

A former world traveller, YEG Coffee Can will continue to make moves around town

Tony Phung with his sea can coffee shop, YEG Coffee Can. (Tara McCarthy/CBC)

Sometimes coffee comes out of a can and sometimes it comes out of a ... really big can.

Edmonton's new mobile coffee shop, YEG Coffee Can, has set up its digs in a converted shipping container, known as a sea can. Its offerings include beans roasted locally and doughnuts made at an independent bakery.

The black shipping container doesn't necessarily look like a typical coffee shop, so owner Tony Phung has created outdoor signs to make things clear. The bold white letters read, "There's a coffee shop inside here."

"The countertops are just like a regular bar," Phung told CBC Radio's Edmonton AM. "It's got granite there. It's got vinyl luxury vinyl tiles. The entire thing has hydraulics for the doors and a little patio and a roof. It's just like a mini bar, with a patio."

The shipping container was modified to be one-third of its original 16.5-metre length. (Tara McCarthy/CBC)

Before it became a coffee shop, the shipping container was well-travelled, having done about 600 routes before it was decommissioned in China. The structural changes, including cutting the 16.5-metre unit down to 4.5 metres, were mostly completed in China, then the unit was shipped to Canada, where Phung had the mechanical, electrical and plumbing work done.

A 300-gallon fuel tank runs a small generator that is more than enough to "power our coffee grinder and various equipment," he said.

Obtaining the business permit was relatively straightforward since YEG Coffee Can's strategy is similar to the operations of the food truck and street-vending communities, he said.

Phung said he has a couple of goals with YEG Coffee Can: to showcase coffee beans from different local roasteries; and to highlight Edmonton's walkability by moving it to different neighbourhoods.

Edmonton-based coffee roasters are featured, along with doughnuts from Take 5, a café in the Beverly neighbourhood. (Tara McCarthy/CBC)

Last week, it was located near 108th Street and 100th Avenue. Phung said the next stop would be near the downtown NorQuest College.

"The goal, in the summer, is to really showcase local roasters," he said. "Right now, I've got Rogue Wave roastery. They've kindly helped me setup and even showcase their coffee beans.

"And the next [business] that's being rolled out is Colombian coffee."

Doughnuts are supplied by Take 5, a bakery and café in the Beverly neighbourhood.

YEG Coffee Can will use its Instagram account to update its location.

"The unit will be mobile throughout the summer," Phung said. "We want to keep it interesting and place it in different parts of Edmonton to showcase areas that people can walk to and have great scenery."


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