Surf's up and coffee is served

At 8am in a packed parking lot, men and women pull on their suits and, like people all around the world at that hour, crave a cup of coffee.

by: Reuters | 31 Oct 2007

However the suits are wetsuits, and these people are holding longboards as they head to a San Diego surfing beach before their workday begins.

David Wasserman, 35, used to be one of these people, spending three hours in the chilly Pacific waters and emerging in a soggy wetsuit. He always wished someone would drive into the parking lot with a good cup of coffee.

That someone is now Wasserman himself, with his bright orange "Joes on the Nose" truck serving up organically grown and locally roasted coffee, from drip to Italian-style espresso to a Aloha Latte with macadamia nut and coconut.

"Joes" refers to the slang for coffee, while "on the Nose" is when surfers go to the front of their longboards and hang ten off "the nose."

"This guy is a life-saver down here with this truck, especially when we have cooler water," said Tom Davis, a buff 62-year-old known as "the Nordic Prince" who has been surfing here at Tourmaline Surfing Park for 45 years.

"We don't want anything 'metro', we are very straight," said Jeff Grant, referring to the specialty coffees that might be ordered by so-called metrosexuals, men concerned about their self-image and appearance.

Emma Wright, a decorative painter, stops by with her three-month-old baby who she'll pass off before she paddles out. "It puts a smile on my face as I see him coming down the hill," said Wright, 45. "He makes the best coffee in town."

Wasserman studies the surf report and decides where he is likely to find the most customers along the San Diego coast on a given day. Tourmaline is a local favourite because it is reserved only for surfers since the 1960s.

In his first year of business, Wasserman has grappled with permits and finding a way to run the truck operation without a noisy generator. A first attempt to make it solar-powered failed. But his orange truck is a finalist in online voting for San Diego's best coffee house and he sees his niche business growing with coffee carts and more trucks, servicing more than just surfers.

"I wanted to be a part of the surfer community," he said. "But now I don't surf much anymore because I work all the time."

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