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Jon Truck

Jon Hepplewhite, owner of Rabbit Dash Coffee House, shows off his new solar powered coffee truck at the Port Elgin Farmers’ Market in Coulter Parkette June 20.

Hub Staff

“We're solar powered now,” said Rabbit Dash owner Jon Hepplewhite, displaying his new solar powered coffee truck at the Port Elgin Farmers’ Market June 20 in Coulter Parkette. “I’m totally off the grid,” he said.

Hepplewhite picked up the vehicle last Fall, a 1990 Suzuki Carry, and fixed it up. “It was green when I got it so I had to paint it inside and out,” he said of his now red truck. “It doesn’t get up to very fast speeds so it’s very much a local truck but I bought it with [the market] in mind,” he said.

In addition to solar panels that gives Hepplewhite five to six hours of operating time, “it’s a 3,000 watt surge, 1,500 watt inverter and it’s enough to do five to six hours running the whole truck without putting any power back into it,” Hepplewhite said there is also a generator that can charge as it’s being used.

“So literally now with the solar capability I could drive out into the country, park on the side of the road and serve somebody an espresso,” he said. “It’s amazing, I could have this on and running in the back as I’m driving,” he added.

The coffee shop owner said he had the idea for a mobile coffee truck around the time he opened Rabbit Dash in 2013 and in order to participate in the downtown Farmers’ Market from the onset, created a mobile cart. “That was good but it was definitely shorter term,” said Hepplewhite. “To be able to offer most of what we offer in store... with the truck instead of the cart we’re able to do that much more,” he said.

The first time Hepplewhite saw a Suzuki Carry he thought it would make a perfect coffee truck “because it makes you look,” he said. “Every time you see it, it doesn’t matter how many you’ve seen before, you look,” he explained, adding it’s a seller’s market because they’re rare and hard to find in good condition for a good price. Hepplewhite said he looked for about two years before finding one to purchase in the Durham area.

Compared to his former mobile cart, Hepplewhite can now offer hot chocolate, Chai lattes, a greater selection of teas, pour-over coffees, London fogs and Italian sodas. Added storage is also a plus with the new unit and he can now offer all the flavour shots Rabbit Dash offers in house. “A lot of these things I can store here... with the cart I had to take everything off every time,” he said.

“The nice thing now that I have that capability it makes it a lot easier to get a mobile food truck permit to go elsewhere in town,” said Hepplewhite. “So that’s what I’ve kind of been building up to is being able to go to different events,” he said.

“It feels almost like its own business, its own coffee shop, in affiliation with the coffee house,” said Hepplewhite.

You can find Hepplewhite, along with many other vendors at the market every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Coulter Parkette, at the corner of Green and Goderich Street in downtown Port Elgin. The Market runs until September 5.

Solar Panel

The solar panel gives the coffee unit five to six hours of run time.

Sunshine-top

DeCoppel Summer