If there's one thing we can appreciate here at Build-Outs of Summer, it's radical honesty. Eric Neat's new Caffé e Bici in Flagstaff, Arizona is the man's self-described attempt to “alleviate the impending mid-life crisis.” More of an “out of control hobby than a company”, Neat's been making coffee for decades and wants to bring that passion to “events, farmers' markets and pop-ups” throughout his region.
We get all kinds of PR-driven focus group-y submissions to Build Outs; we get utterly personal, unflinching, no BS real world submissions too. Guess which kind we like the best?
As told to Sprudge by Eric Neat of Caffé e Bici.
For those who aren't familiar, will you tell us about your company?
Caffé e Bici (coffee and bike) is more of an out of control hobby than a company and stems from my long history with bicycles and coffee. I worked myself through college as a good Second Wave barista and bike mechanic. Both coffee and cycling have remained a hobby throughout my career as a public school teacher. Now, in an attempt to alleviate the impending mid-life crisis, I have combined the two hobbies and built a bike cafe. At this point the plan is to vend at special events, farmers' markets and pop-ups in and around northern Arizona with a limited menu of basic espresso drinks and pour-over coffee.
Can you tell us a bit about your bike set-up?
Caffé e Bici is a small, custom-built mobile cafe assembled on the back of an antique tricycle. It all came together in a perfect storm of opportunity and tragedy when one friend started roasting coffee and another moved and left me his old tricycle as a parting gift. It seemed obvious to me to put an espresso machine on this old tricycle. Unfortunately, as the project started to take shape, my mom got sick and did not recover. For a while, it seemed that Caffé e Bici would never come to fruition but, in the end, it was my mother's passing that motivated me to finish and influenced the final design.
What's your approach to coffee?
My goal is to honor the seed to cup story making sure that the cup I serve accurately represents the skill it took to get it to this final step. I am working very closely with a local roaster and friend (Budan Roasting) who spends a lot of energy sourcing beans from specific regions and with specific qualities, then roasting with extreme care to bring those qualities out. Most days I feel honored that I get to drink such high-quality coffee let alone serve it so it is important to me that it’s done right.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
Being on the back of a bike, counter space is at a premium. After doing a ton of research, I splurged on a La Marzocco GS3 and paired it with a Baratza Forte grinder. I am also using the V60 and Baratza Vario for pour-over.
What's your hopeful target opening date/month?
I will be ready to vend by the end of June, but I am not scheduled for any events yet. You will have to check the website or Facebook (both under construction).
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you'd like to mention?
This would not have been possible without the help of many of my friends who possess skills that I do not. G&L Powers (specifically Josh). Chris from Budan Roasting. Coconino High School vocational department, my patient wife Jen and my mom.
What's the address?
Everywhere and nowhere. Caffé e Bici is limited to special events and pop-ups for now. Look me up soon on our website or Facebook for specific locations.