Hani al-Gamal – Cairo
Mobile cafés and coffee trucks are becoming ubiquitous in Egypt.
The upsurge in the number of these cafés on the streets of the nation comes after Egyptian authorities banned the trading of coffee shops and restaurants. This ban was one of a series of measures reportedly taken by the authorities to put the lid on the rise in Covid-19 infections.
This is apparently coming with blessings for some unemployed Egyptians who are converting their vehicles into a new type of café. They can be found on main roads, at entrances to residential compounds, and inside some of the Egyptian capital’s districts.
Some of the nation’s most fresh-faced men and women operate these cafés and trucks. Some of them wave for motorists speeding on the roads to stop for minutes and take out coffee. Others paint their trucks or trailers in attractive colours to invite attention.
Ahmed Tarek, the owner of a mobile café in Cairo, said he got the idea of having the café when he took coffee out of one of them together with some of his friends a few months ago. “Then I told my father about the idea and he was very enthusiastic about it”, Tarek told MedyaNews.
Tarek, who was unemployed until then, got the price of an old Volkswagen Beetle from his father and introduced modifications to it to convert it into a mobile café. He also painted it in green, black and white to give it the crazy touch needed to invite the attention of passersby.
Tarek and other people like him have got their startups off the ground on their own. They serve coffee and other hot drinks on the move. Some of them sell sandwiches and other food, catering to the needs of those passing by and those who want to drink their cherished coffee, tea or latte in the open. The mobile cafés and food trucks are becoming a last resort for Egyptians physically and social distancing themselves during this tough time.
The number of Covid-19 infections has been on the rise in Egypt for several days now, reaching 1,189 on 26 December, the highest for a single day since August. The mobile cafés provide an opportunity for some people to earn a decent living.
Islam Mohamed, another mobile café owner, hired a friend of his, thanks to the presence of many customers all-day long. Most of the customers are youngsters who want to spend some time in the open. Some of these youngsters also consider going to the café as a type of picnic.
“We have become friends with some of the customers”, Mohamed said. “Some of these customers come to us to take out coffee or tea every day”. The mobile cafés and coffee trucks are becoming popular because they also offer drinks at low prices, compared with the prices coffee shops charge their clients.
A cup of coffee or tea out of any of these cafés sells for a few Egyptian pounds (or a few cents), which makes them very affordable for almost everybody. Nidal Sadek, who parks his coffee truck outside Cairo University, says he spent 3,000 Egyptian pounds (roughly $193.5) to buy the necessary equipment and tools for making the drinks he sells. “The students of the university come to me in large numbers”, Sadek said. “They find coming here provides a good chance to grab a drink and have a nice chat with their colleagues”.