The prototype of an entirely pedal-powered mobile coffee cart has appeared in London, and has already won a couple of design awards. It has been designed by graduates of the Royal College of Art in London, who describe it as a “celebratory fusion of human power, sensory pleasures and technology”. Three well-known trade companies have been involved in helping.
The machine is the Velopresso, designed by students Amos Reid Field and Lasse Oiva. The general principle is that a tricycle has been modified so that the pedals drive the grinder – the operator has a gear switch which allows the pedals to move the bike, or to operate the grinder. At present, brew water is heated by a gas canister, but the team is experimenting with turning old coffee grounds into ethanol for extra power.
“The entire machine is entirely bespoke,” Amos Reid Field said. “It is a prototype which was produced for our MA in design, but which we have now tested it at several events, including the Eurobike trade fair in Germany where we produced up to 200 coffees in a seven-hour shift with one single-lever espresso machine.
“The grinder, espresso machine, and trike are all entirely designed and built by us, or for us. There are some off-the-shelf parts, such as the conical burr set in the grinder, the hopper, and the lever group in the espresso machine, and some standard bicycle components.
“The grinder is powered directly by pedalling – running at 250rpm it effortlessly produces a double shot in five seconds. After some recent revisions there is now as good as zero retention of grinds and no waste – all of every bean ground now ends up in the portafilter. The precision of the grind adjustment is equal to the Mazzer Robur, and the grinder is silent aside from the sound of the coffee being milled – no motors, no electricity, no noise.
“The espresso machine is a prototype that we co-designed with Fracino in Birmingham and then they produced it for us. It is a traditional sprung lever group with heat being provided by a very efficient mountaineers’ multi-fuel stove, currently being tested using camping gas.
“The whole project is at a working prototype stage (ongoing testing) and in the process of being developed for commercialisation.
“We have been supported by Monmouth Coffee, Fracino, Londinium Espresso and others in the bicycle industry and outside.”