Hot Wheels

Drifter Coffee is a seriously caffeinated emporium housed in a vintage trailer


Photographs by EE Berger

Alleah Webb is wrapping up her rookie season as a coffee entrepreneur. Drifter Coffee, which is housed in what she calls her “coffee caboose,” has been rolling since May. 

It’s a vintage Scotty Serro camping trailer she found on Craigslist, now a mobile coffee shop she hitches to her car and takes to outdoor events such as the Dream Cruise and the Wayne State University farmers market, and it elicits grins everywhere it goes.

You can’t miss it. It’s painted a bright turquoise and white, with little paned windows and café curtains made by Webb’s aunt — and its bulbous charm is unmistakable.

Drifter Coffee is very much a family-and-friends operation. Webb’s dad, Vern, did nearly all of the restoration on the 1971 trailer. “It was falling apart,” she says. “Dad and I gutted it.” 

It’s now a model of efficiency. There are cabinets, counters, drawers, two equipment sinks and a hand sink, and room for four to move around inside.

Webb’s crew includes her best friend from college, Rachel Wigley, her sister Jessica, and brother Kevin. The three Webb siblings are just a year apart, with Alleah the elder at 25.

Webb is serious about coffee. She uses medium roast beans from a single farm, and the beans are freshly ground in the on-board coffee grinder for each cup, made pour-over style. The coffee does not always come from the same farm, but she is adamant about using single origin beans, not a mixture.

Iced coffee is made Japanese style, poured directly on ice while hot. In addition, she offers natural Eli Tea from the Birmingham company and a few pastries. But coffee is really the name of the game.

In her search for sources, Webb (pictured above left) says she’s made friends with a lot of coffee aficionados, including roasters and shop owners, and that they’ve been very supportive of her enterprise. A video prepared for the Indiegogo campaign brought in a few donations from friends and strangers to help make it happen.

Drifter Coffee is not the culmination of her dream — which started when she was at Central Michigan University studying entrepreneurship and leadership — but it’s a start. She hopes to segue into a brick and mortar location she envisions as much more than just a coffee emporium. She wants it to be a community gathering place, unpretentious and friendly, good for everything from a first date to study session.

But for now, her lovingly restored trailer is drawing attention and winning fans all over town.

She will put it away for the winter in November, and plans to hit the road again in early spring.

Drifter Coffee will be at the Wayne State University Farmers Market, 5401 Cass Ave., Detroit, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Wednesdays through the month of October. For more information, email or go to their website

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Local Pie Makers Offer Variety of Fillings

Area bakers offer alternative fillings for holiday pastry.

A Taste of Paris

Cannelle Patisserie chef Matt Knio’s baked goods are turning up in restaurants and markets across metro Detroit

The Big Dipper

Garden Fresh Gourmet is a shining star in the metro Detroit Food scene

A Zen Monk on Her Vegetarian Diet

Myungju Hillary talks spirituality, a plant-based diet, and more

These Businesses Are Planting Purpose in Metro Detroit — Through Food

Hour Detroit’s food issue explores sustainable restaurants, organizations, and more
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Top Docs List 2018
  2. Memories of Miya
    Citizen Yoga founder, Kacee Must Leeb reflects on her sister’s suicide, its impact on her...
  3. Introducing the Piekie
    These cookie-shaped pies win big on-screen and off
  4. The Sixth Man
    A youth basketball coach teaches lessons on and off the court
  5. Seeking Support
    Like many metro areas across the U.S., finding a therapist in and around Detroit can prove to be...
  6. Therapy in the Digital Age
    New innovations that revolutionize traditional approaches to counseling
  7. Mending Migraines
    Nausea, excruciating head pain, sensitivity to light and noise: The oppressiveness of the list of...
  8. Food Recipe: Chili
    Michael Keys, of Red Crown in Grosse Pointe Park, shares his favorite chili recipe
  9. Author's Cuisine
    At M Cantina in Dearborn, Junior Merino is creating a new kind of Mexican cuisine that is...
  10. Seeing Clearly
    The co-founders behind Genusee on making eyewear with a mission