Highwire Coffee converts '80s Chronicle delivery truck into coffee on wheels
If you lived in the Bay Area before the early 2000s, you might recall the bulky San Francisco Chronicle paper delivery truck heading down the road. By 2008, the trucks were phased out of use but, if you pay close attention, you might catch one in the East Bay.
Highwire Coffee Roaster launched a coffee truck this month that serves East Bay cities, but there’s more than meets the eye. Just beneath the surface of the orange-coated seal is the shell of a former Chronicle delivery truck that dates back to 1981.
The truck was spotted by Robert Myers, co-founder and CEO of Highwire Coffee Roasters, in a classified ad. What started as a search for an Airstream trailer, like the one at their Flowerland location in Albany, ended with Myers finding the almost 40-year-old truck — and that’s when the whole plan changed.
“Everything about the truck spoke to me — the color, the shape, the wheels, the back story. Rich [Avella] and I have a shared love of old cars, and this was an easy ‘yes,’” Myers said.
The truck has transformed from its former newspaper days into a sleek and modern coffee operation. Inside you’ll find stainless steel, wooden panels, two espresso machines, a coffee grinder, and a coffee brewer.
“We made equipment and capabilities modifications and gave it a thorough mechanical upgrade," he said.
There’s some deja vu at play here. Before Highwire acquired the truck, another Bay Area coffee business owned it back in 2012. Beulah's Bean Truck served Alameda but has since shuttered. Prior to their ownership, the vehicle had been used as an ice cream truck, according to Patch.
Around the bay, it’s not uncommon for old vehicles to get drastic makeovers. In 2018, a couple transformed a 60-foot Muni bus into a living space, complete with bunk beds and shelving. That summer, they took it to Burning Man.
Highwire Coffee opened its first location in Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood back in 2011, and since then has expanded to two brick-and-mortar locations, one Airstream trailer at Flowerland in Albany, and is a regular at the Ferry Building farmers market.
The coffee truck began serving caffeinated drinks by wheels in August and currently operates in Oakland and Alameda. If all goes well, Myers says they hope to expand service around other Bay Area cites.