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Gourmet Coffee Truck Has NY Debut

April 9, 2001

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NEW YORK (AP) _ New Yorkers can now get their morning java jolt from a converted utility repair truck.

The concept, which evolved from the cappuccino stands that have long been a familiar sight on San Francisco streets, has found a New York niche.

The bright orange, converted Con Edison truck, dubbed ``The Mud Truck,″ has been parked outside a subway station in lower Manhattan _ between two Starbucks _ for a month.

``It’s orange, it’s quick, it’s next to the subway,″ said musician Leroy Pelicci, downing his morning truck-cup before heading to the studio. ``It’s family owned, which is nice to support.″

Co-founders Nina Berott and husband, Greg ``Mud Man″ Northrop, spent about $70,000 converting the truck, complete with a special generator for a cappuccino machine.

The venture’s name is a nod to Northrop’s Italian grandmother, who ``used to drink coffee so thick she called it mud.″

The musician-turned-barista and his wife _ who traded her business suits for an apron _ contracted with a roaster and settled on a mixture of three types of beans to come up with a strong coffee called the ``Mud Blend.″

The Mud Truck is one of 3,000 mobile food vendors in the city, including fast-food and coffee carts, said Sandra Mullin, a Health Department spokeswoman. Their fare ranges from hot dogs and knishes, to buttered bagels and fresh fruit, to falafel and baba ghanouj.

About half of the U.S. population indulges in a coffee buzz, and about 20 percent of those drink gourmet coffee daily, according to the Coffee Science Source, the research arm of the National Coffee Association.

With up to 500 cups sold daily, Berott said the pair expects to break even in about a year _ and may purchase a second truck.

___

On the Net:

The Mud Truck: http://www.themudtruck.com

Starbucks: http://www.starbucks.com

National Coffee Association: http://www.ncausa.org

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