It’s no secret that the Get It girls are big coffee lovers. So, when Ballito’s newest mobile coffee spot, Mellow Nello Speciality Coffee, popped up opposite Thompson’s Bay beach, we had to stop in and try the beans!
Who doesn’t love a good coffee spoil? Especially when it’s being served by two friendly humans out of a beautifully refurbished horsebox trailer down by the sea.
Mellow Nello is a chilled, unique and carefully thought-out little space that has been lovingly created by a couple of young travellers who decided to finally unpack their bags, and make Ballito their home.
Durban local Ross Nel and his Canadian girlfriend Christie Holt opened the hatches of their coffee trailer just a few weeks ago, after months of searching for, refurbishing and fitting out the horsebox trailer.
The mobile coffee concept is not a new one, but it’s not every day you find one that has been created from an actual, working horsebox. What makes this one even more special though, is that it is the direct result of two young people who, fuelled by coffee and love, decided to find a way to make a living doing the things they love.
The name Mellow Nello comes from the fact that both Ross and yoga-loving Christie consider themselves to be very relaxed, ‘mellow’ people … which is exactly the vibe they wanted for their business.
The couple met while working overseas. Ross was working on yachts and Christie was doing a yoga instructor’s course. “We matched on a dating app when my boat pulled into a port. We didn’t meet then, but started chatting,” says Ross, who later flew Christie to the South of France so they could meet in person.
After they started dating, Christie and Ross began dreaming up ideas of opening a business together where they could sell great coffee and offer yoga classes alongside.
“We wanted to do something that combined all the things we love – the ocean, yoga, coffee and meditation. But we didn’t want to tied down with rent, so we decided to be mobile.
The couple returned to South Africa in May 2021 and started putting their plan into place. The first step was to find a horsebox they could convert. “It took us a long time to find one that was light enough for us to tow. This one had been refurbished, but was still a proper horsebox with all the padding, bars and mat in it. And it still smelled like horses,” laughs Ross.
When it came to the look and feel of their coffee trailer, the couple knew exactly what they were looking for. “We wanted to use as much re-purposed wood as possible. We thought this colour would suit our ‘mellow’ vibe. We also wanted to be as sustainable as possible.”
Having worked in a speciality coffee shop in Canada, Christie already had some background knowledge of the coffee industry, but the couple say they had to learn a lot – and are still on a journey of learning about the coffee industry.
“We pretty much just threw ourselves into it and read all the books,” says Christie. “We did an online barista course and bought the best quality machine we could afford.”
When it comes to the coffee bean they use, Ross says it was kind of by accident that they found Humble Coffee. “We found this amazing coffee shop in Durban and we loved everything about it – the décor with old wood and plants, the ethos and, of course, the fantastic coffee, which they roast themselves. We knew we wanted these beans.”
Determined to live as intentionally as possible, Christie and Ross have carefully thought out every aspect of their business. This is even down to the glass bottled milk they use, which is delivered once a week from a farm in Howick that offers employment to people with disabilities.
Their cups are biodegradable, but they do encourage people to bring their own cups (you get a R4 discount) or use their ‘to stay’ cups, if you aren’t in a rush and want to hang around for a chat while you drink your coffee.
And the coffee is really good. Mellow Nellow offers a range of espresso-based drinks, as well as croissants three days a week which they get from Breadologie in Sheffield. Christie also makes her own chocolate zuchini muffins and they have a little range of natural soaps on sale as well.
Although they haven’t started offering yoga classes just yet, the Mellow Nello trailer is fully mobile and available for events, weddings, markets and school sports days.
Details: @mellownellcoffee, www.mellownello.co.za