There is a worn industrial park tucked in a corner between a highway & the railroad tracks that head in & out of San Diego. Behind the big buildings facing the road is a second row of corrugated metal buildings. They are sea-foam green, trimmed in white & aged by the sun.Dusty Ford pickups, Econo-line vans & a sign proclaiming a tree service, woodworker, surfboard shaper. Work gets done here.
It’s here that I meet Chris O’Brien to take a peek at his Coffee Cycle. A soon-to-be-operating coffee cart bicycle. A gracious host, he immediately offers up a pint of Boo Koo IPA on tap before launching into a tour of the cart and the story behind it. It is way more involved than we imagined. This, essentially, is a fully operating coffee shop with a 3-part sink in the back, expresso machine, water heating system & oversized mini-fridge. The entire thing has been built on-top of a used pedi-cab frame. There was an original design which has mostly been adapted & adjusted out of existence as the project has moved forward.
Chris is quick to point out that he wouldn’t have gotten this far without a lot of help from others. Taylor, 0f Hub + Spoke, has been working on the fabrication. His buddy, Stu, has been helping with the bike build. Another buddy from the shop is helping with electrical, even the health department (usually a terrifying place) has given advice to help him get his bike into code compliance. The wood-burning artist he shares his portion of the shop with is working on creative countertop designs that will really make this cart unique. Plus, he’s received a lot of positive support from his current employers at Bird Rock Coffee.
The idea for Coffee Cycle came up the way most great ideas do. While hanging out with a couple of bike-loving friends having beers someone said, “Hey! We should just put a coffee cart on the back of a bike.” That led to Chris drawing up some sketches of what a coffee cycle could look like. Then he found an high-quality espresso machine that would work, and he started thinking that this just might work.
Right now the Coffee Cycle is about 75% finished. They need to add the solar panels that will power the system, the rolling side walls, & a planter box of succulents on top. The goal is to have the first cup of coffee poured by the end of the year. Chris was hesitant to give a date since the project has taken on a lot of adaptations as problems arise or design changes need to be accomplished to achieve the ultimate goal of providing a true quality coffee experience.
Every little thing has taken longer than I thought it would. Longer, and more expensive! -Chris O’Brien
Coffee Cycle has obviously been a labor of love. When it is finished it will be a unique coffee experience in San Diego. Hard work from a team of like-minded friends and Chris’ passion for coffee & bicycles have gotten it this far. There is no doubt they will make it to the finish line.