Pedal powered coffee bikes could be green money machines

Adam on WHeely
© Wheely's

This TreeHugger is totally conflicted about food trucks. On the one hand, they have led to an explosion of entrepreneurial activity among young people who couldn't possibly afford to open a conventional restaurant. On the other hand, they compete against the bricks and mortar restaurants that we want on our main streets; they pollute and they generate a lot of garbage and they don't have bathrooms so their customers then have to sneak into those bricks and mortar restaurants.

Wheely's/Promo image

I am less conflicted about ideas like Wheely's, first covered last year, when Derek called it an ecological café bike. Since then they have sold over thirty of them around the world. The developers claim that coffee entrepreneurs are pulling in $700 per day. The coffee is made on an ethanol-powered siphon brewer so even the fuel is green.

Wheely's/Promo image

Last year's model cost sold for an impressively cheap $3,000; the new one has running water, digital displays and an electric boost. It has a lot more, but costs $ 7,000 now. I am wondering if it isn't getting a bit too big and heavy; I liked the minimalism of the original. More at their Indigogo campaign.

Velopresso/Promo image

Now if you are like me and you prefer an espresso to a coffee, there is the Velopresso. It comes with a propane-fuelled coffee machine and a pedal-driven grinder. It was first covered in TreeHugger in 2012, but now it's finally in production and available for purchase, for £9,995 ( US $ 15,041 and dropping daily). The designers write:

We wanted to showcase efficient human-powered, cycling-based technology that could easily replace electrical equivalents, and to instigate more sustainable urban business models.. The ultimate commercial standard pedal-driven grinder became our goal, with a robust, versatile and ‘go anywhere’ tricycle and espresso machine system built around it, which could produce the highest quality espresso coffees with the smallest physical and operational carbon footprints


© Velepresso/ Ivan Coleman

They are not happy about using propane;

It is the most robust and simple solution available today for providing sufficient heat to operate a commercial espresso machine on the move. We see this use of a fossil fuel as a temporary solution that in time will be upgraded with a new burner system, running on ethanol fuel derived from waste – ideally used coffee grinds.

© Velepresso/ Ivan Coleman

It's all beautifully made out of stainless steel; I like how there is a foot rail at the front, just like a real espresso bar. It doesn't have the branding and the apps like the Wheely and it costs a lot more, but this is a real machine. More at Velopresso.

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

Then again, you can do it yourself, like I believe they did with this crepe trike I saw in Copenhagen. There are so many arts grads working in coffee shops these days; I wonder how many other bike-powered businesses might might be pedalled out into the streets. They certainly are a lot greener than food trucks.

Tags: Bikes | Biking | Coffee


treehugger slideshows