It’s almost 9am but the crowd around Dave Trevena’s Kombi at South Avalon beach shows no sign of dispersing. They’re a motley crew – wet-suited surfers, fathers and daughters, tradies and suits – but there is one thing that unites them. Coffee. Classic Coffee, Trevena’s business, which serves quality brews from the back of Trevena’s (suitably) latte-hued Kombi van. On this spectacular winter’s day the sun is streaming down, the sky is blue, and this crowd is going nowhere fast.
The business started early last year after Trevena realised, “No one was actually doing good coffee out of a van,” he tells us. “And the ones that were had no character to them.” What came next was a two-year search for the right set of wheels. “I found it up in Queensland,” Trevena says. “All the paintwork was done, so a big part of the job was done for me.” Inside, the van had been stripped bare; the perfect blank canvas for what Trevena had planned. “Every day off I had, I would be in here building,” he says. When the van was ready, Trevena bid farewell to his barista job in Manly and set out on his own.
“It was quite daunting at the start,” he admits. “Coming up here and no-one’s around, people give you looks.” But Classic Coffee soon gained a strong following among the locals who discovered Trevena and his Kombi by wandering through South Avalon on a weekday morning, or via social media. Trevena posts a daily surf report on his Instagram feed and Facebook page, enticing customers out of bed and into the water.
Each morning when he sets up at six, a crowd of regulars starts to form. “If I miss a day people get very upset,” he says. At this point, one of his regulars – an older man from a nearby apartment block – leans over us to collect his flat white. “I do get very upset when you’re not here,” he interjects. Trevena laughs. “One of the hardest things about it is putting the van into service, I have to take a day off because no mechanics work on the weekend. I try to line it up for a rainy day, but it never works out.”
Alongside coffee, Trevena offers a small breakfast selection. “I was just going to do coffee and that was it,” Trevena tells us. “But I just responded to what people wanted.” It started with muffins, which he keeps tucked in a tray beside the coffee machine, and progressed into a range of bite-sized burritos (egg, pesto and baby spinach, or a very cheesy chorizo). Assembled in advance, Trevena jumps inside the van to toast each burrito whenever an order comes through. It’s simple, but it’s all you need.
At around nine every morning Trevena packs up the Kombi and heads on an office run through the area, finishing his working day just after lunch. Weekends are filled with events, including festivals such as Splendour in the Grass and Secret Garden. But for Trevena, a born-and-bred Avalon boy, his heart will always be in the Northern Beaches. “It’s my home. It’s awesome to come up here in the morning and see everyone,” he says. “My mum comes up everyday and annoys the hell out of me,” he adds, jokingly. On rare days off, Trevena and his wife explore their area, searching out new cafes and breakfast spots. “Coffee is what I have to have and what I have to do,” Trevena tells us, smiling. “It’s not a religion, but it comes close.”