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Business / Unken cakes in an unken bus

HAVE you ever found yourself wondering what’s inside that white minibus parked at Lerwick’s Lochside right next to the new emergency landing site?

Katja Stübinger and her mobile coffee shop. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

Well, in Katja’s Unkenwagen coffee brewed with the help of a hand-operated espresso machine is being served together with her famous German cakes.

Katja Stübiger, who grew up in the Black Forest, has been living in Shetland since 2009 and is well known for the homemade cakes and gateau she has been selling at farmers’ markets and other events.

The 48-year-old said demand for her cakes had steadily grown over the years with more and more people asking when she was going to open her own coffee shop.

Katja’s Unkenwagen, sporting a lady wearing the distinctive Black Forest ‘Bollenhut’ on its sides, is her unique and quirky response to customers’ demand.

A combination of ‘unken’, her favourite Shetland dialect word, and the German ‘wagen’ for vehicle, the Unkenwagen is the latest new business in Shetland’s increasingly diverse food and drink scene.

“I always wanted to run a kiosk,” she said during a short break in serving a steady stream of customers. “In the countryside where my parents live they actually have a bakery bus coming along selling fresh bread and cakes.

“I guess the bus is a combination of all three elements – the bakery van, the kiosk dream, and me starting out with the stalls at the farmers’ market.”

It was her partner Andrew Hawick who traced the disabled access second hand bus in the Birmingham area. It used to belong to Portsmouth Football Club to shuttle around disabled fans.

It took Andrew four years of spare time to convert the vehicle into a mobile coffee shop, while Craig Sim of Art Machine came up with the branding.

Katja said she has had some great feedback from customers but still feels a little nervous about the big step into the unknown.

“You have to try things, otherwise you will never know if it works out. And if it is not working out I will have to look for another job again,” she said.

She has now started to add to her menu some savoury dishes, many of southern German origin.

For the time being Katja’s Unkenwagen will be open at its Lochside location Wednesdays and Thursdays 10am to 4pm, and Fridays/Saturdays 11am to 4pm.