04 Mar A van-tastic offering!
A van-tastic offering!
Even Great Danes love the coffee at Portchester Castle – where dogs can queue up at a vintage coffee truck to get their paws on their very own pupacinnos!
Inside the English Heritage walls, Claude, a handsome 1965 Citroen H van, serves delicious locally roasted coffee alongside homemade sweet and savoury treats.
He’s part of Seahorse Coffee Bars’ head-turning turquoise fleet that also includes Woody the converted horsebox, and Esté the 1978 Renault Estafette.
Owner Sam White, who lives in Portchester with husband Lee and son Callaghan, loves what she does, and this is evident in all the little extra touches that make her quirky Seahorse Coffee Bars so popular – from the pupacinnos made with dog-safe whippy cream and a gravy bone flake to the pay-it-forward tokens hanging on Claude’s back door.
A bespoke Seahorse coffee blend is made by local coffee roaster, James at LowTide Coffee, while traybakes and sponges are baked by The Bake Bag in Portchester, and giant sausage rolls are made to Sam’s own recipe at local bakery La Boulangerie.
Sam loves the fresh Selsey crab sandwiches in summer and is also partial to the Bake Bag’s white chocolate and raspberry traybake – which she says is ‘just divine’! There are always some gluten-free and vegan offerings, too.
“You’ve got to try and be a little bit different,” says Sam. “People love our giant warm sausage rolls and the brownies – they are a grab and go, so you can eat them on the hoof or take them home.
“All our vans are equipped to do lots of different things, so in the summer months we make waffles and have freezers stocked with gorgeous soft-scoop ice cream from Caroline’s Dairies.”
So why did Sam opt for her eye-catching vintage theme?
“I’ve always liked the look of the vintage trucks,” she explains. “If you have a non-vintage vehicle and a vintage vehicle, people will usually be drawn to the vintage. Everyone loves a bit of nostalgia and customers often ask us all about them – if they drive, are they easy to drive, how old are they?
“I did really want an H Van to begin with, but I couldn’t afford one when we started. That’s why our first vehicle was Woody, our converted horsebox, who is now over at Westlands Farm Shop where we are open 9am – 4pm every weekend.
“Then I was able to buy Esté, a little Renault Estafette 1978, who is a bit more mobile so we can go off and do markets.
“And finally, we got Claude, who lives at Portchester Castle. I love him. I like the fact he’s a bit lumpy and bumpy and shows his past life – he has so much character. He does go on the odd outing. If we’re doing Goodwood, for example, we have a change around and he gets to go off and party.
“All the vans can be adapted for other uses – they’ve even been Champagne and Seafood Bars!”
Sam started her business at the end of 2019 but was only open a few months before lockdown forced her to close. When things started reopening, she moved from out of Portchester car park in July 2020 and into the castle walls – and hasn’t looked back.
“I think what sets us apart is our amazing setting, the friendly staff – they are a great friendly team – and of course our quality products. Sometimes the queues are long, but people say it’s definitely worth waiting. Their dogs think so, too!”
To find out more about Seahorse Coffee Bar, including where they will be and when, check out their socials!
Want to check out our other mentions?
LowTide Coffee Co.
The Bake Bag