The Velopresso pedal-powered espresso trike, seen on the Brooks booth at Eurobike, is to be available commercially. The Velopresso is an award-winning pedal-powered all-in-one espresso machine, trike and coffee bean grinder. It was produced as graduation project by two design students from the Royal College of Art in London. Amos Field Reid and Lasse Oiva now aim to put the British-built trike into production.
Reid said: “Velopresso was conceived against the backdrop of a global renaissance in cycling culture that is being driven by the desire for more sustainable cities and lifestyle. The urban coffee scene is also expanding and diversifying, including aconvergence with cycling culture.” The trike was used to pull espresso shots on the Brooks stand at Eurobike and has won two design awards, the Deutsche Bank Award for Creative Enterprises 2012 and came second in the Pininfarina Design Contest 2012. Both awards came with cash grants, helping to pay for pre-production planning for a start-up business to commercialise the Velopresso. The trike was built by ad-bike maker Kingsmead Associates of Canterbury; the espresso machine was produced by Fracino of Birmingham; and there are bike parts from Brooks, Ison Distribution and Bikefix of London. Like the trike, the coffee bean grinder is powered by a carbon belt from Gates of America.
“No off-the-shelf trikes were up to the job due to the combination of front wheel drive, rear steer and the peculiar ergonomics required to combine a riding position with a barista’s position as it all happens from the same seat/position,” said Reid. “We designed the grinder in its entirety from the ground up, around a commercial conical burr set and hopper. We then commissioned a UK precision engineering firm to produce the stainless steel and aluminium components that make up the machine including a bespoke mount for the Gates pulley, whilst we produced the clear acrylic elements.”
Hot water for the coffee – and steam for frothing milk for cappuccinos – is heated using a camp stove. Reid and Oiva are researching methods to create ethanol alcohol from spent coffee grounds.
The beans grinder runs at 250rpm when the barista pedals at 100rpm, with gearing of 2.5:1. “The industry-standard electrical Mazzer Robur grinder that dominates the cafe scene shares the same burrs and runs at around 400rpm, but ours doses directly to portafilter and effectively takes five seconds to grind a double shot, so timing per cup is pretty much on a bar with any other single group operation,” said Reid, adding “but is very quiet and fun to see in action.” The belt-drive transmission switches from powering the trike’s wheels to powering the grinder with the flick of a switch. “The belt eliminated the problem of an oily chain getting mixed up with the coffee prep environment. It also rendered a chain guard unnecessary, allowing us to showcase this pedal-powered technology and keeping it all naked as we intended. We wanted technology that looks good and performs perfectly.”
Just one Velopresso trike has been made so far. “We are currently engaged with taking this forward towards production, seeking the finance, developing the business model, revising the design,” said Reid.
Despite all of this commotion, you can guarantee that it won’t taste as good as our coffee down at The Cycle Hub!