Libertalia, Owensboro’s only coffee-only mobile trailer, offers a full-service espresso bar and batched brew coffee. Owners Chris and Stella Hamilton thoroughly research the beans that comprise their brews to bring the best experience to premium coffee drinkers.
The Scout Ship, as the coffee trailer is named, carries on the branding of their business name, Libertalia.
According to Chris, Libertalia was a mythical pirate colony with much lore and legend surrounding its existence. But the Hamiltons felt the idea of Libertalia was also a “cool, nautical concept” they could build their brand identity around.
“The Scout Ship is a light-duty craft that can scout out areas to ‘ship it out’ into the world,” Chris said of the naming and purpose of their coffee truck.
Before moving to Owensboro, the couple lived on the east coast, where they experienced a variety of coffee-shop moments due to the “plethora of independent coffee shops,” according to Chris. The couple noticed that there was more to these experiences than just coffee, however, and that is what the Libertalia experience is hoping to create—more moments for its customers.
Citing the cost of living, along with wanting a change, the Hamilton’s chose Owensboro to dock their family. Chris, who was in ministry on the east coast but working many days and hours in the Mid-Atlantic, said that he wanted to find a community where they could build the same relationships they had out east. He had been in seminary in Louisville and used that connection to Kentucky as a starting point. The couple moved to Owensboro, where he began working in management at the local Chick-fil-A, which he said was one of the best experiences of his life, and they got involved with Pleasant Valley Community Church, where his wife now works.
Having people over and sharing their passion for coffee was something that brought joy to the Hamiltons, and Chris loves to hear from his friends and customers, “I didn’t know coffee could do that.” He also believes that coffee can bring the best out of everyone.
“It is an experience that forces them to stop and to appreciate,” he said, which aligns with their mission of being “dedicated to the flourishing of the human spirit.”
“It is the heartbeat behind what we are doing,” he added. “It is a moment to bond a relationship around—to have more passion in what they do.”
After a positive market test last summer at the Owensboro Regional Farmers Market, the Scout Ship launched in October and has a following that visits its regular, weekly, flagship locations, and also finds them at their weekend locations that change regularly.
Hamilton says he loves bringing the ship to neighborhoods where there are already existing communities but adding the element of fresh coffee drinks. The experience allows conversations to emerge between neighbors who may not have seen much of each other—especially during the pandemic. Often, he said, people will congregate around the truck and this shared experience gives them an excuse to “break that wall” and have a conversation.
“It is an experience that lifts you…this is a moment for me,” he said.
Libertalia’s roasted beans have been selected by the Hamiltons, and are from roasters in Louisville and Philadelphia. He said they were chosen because they have sweet properties, and they find joy in making each cup for each customer.
The Hamiltons love having the flexibility of the mobile truck because they have two small children and a “love for life.”
“We do believe that people look for experiences,” he said, adding that consumers’ expectations have been upended through the pandemic. “We can unlock potential and bring these experiences to them.”
Chris also said that many experience coffee drinking as an intense hobby and find an immediate bond with those who combine their experience of life and their coffee experience.
Libertalia offers three coffee experiences at the Scout Ship, something Chris says is different from anywhere. The Reanimator, a sweet and balanced espresso, creates espresso drinks such as the Americano or latte.
The cold brew concentrate comes from a Guatemalan bean and from this, which they refer to as “Gold Brew” because they view it as the gold standard, Chris said customers can expect less milk, more coffee and find their cold drinks more enjoyable.
Drip coffee is also available on a rotating schedule and all beans are available for purchase both on-site and online.
“We are happy to give pointers and tips,” he said. “It is really our heartbeat.”
Following the idea of the ship, Chris said it can also “flip a switch” and become a trailer that can offer more limited service and experience to larger groups.
“We can do both but not at the same time,” he said.
Libertalia has a following of people from coastal regions living here and all are happy to experience hand-crafted beverages among friends.
Chris said they are thankful for the opportunity they have in Owensboro, along with other small businesses, and they are passionate about supporting local businesses.
In fact, for the holiday season, they partnered with three different micro bakeries to create gift boxes.
“We are all trying to make it and do it…It’s cool to see the city rally behind us,” he said. “No one starts [a small business] just to get rich.”
To find the Scout Ship’s locations or to peruse their menu and beans, visit www.libertaliacoffee.com or their Facebook page.