Even though it’s spring in the Northern Hemisphere, for most of us it hasn’t gotten warm enough yet to even consider ice coffee, cold brew, or whatever else your chilled caffeinated beverage of choice is. But in Florida, it’s always cold-drink season.
In Tampa, Joel Davis of Commune + Co. is spreading the cold coffee love thanks to his bike keg, where he serves up pressure-brewed ice coffee from a nitro tap. What’s this “pressure-brewed ice” business? As the Commune + Co. site points out, “the last thing that sounds appealing on a humid, blazing, Florida afternoon is a traditional cold brew coffee that gives you an over-caffeinated, flat, concentrate and leaves you feeling like you just drank 12 ounces of maple syrup.”
You’re right, that does sound terrible. So instead, Davis is pulling tasty chilled coffee off his nitro tap system, all on a custom-built tricycle.
“Commune + Co. launched in April of 2014 after a year of testing recipes, batching, and developing our own unique method of brewing iced coffee, pressure brew,” Davis told me. “Up until our first event (National Record Store Day 2014) at our favorite local record store, no one had sampled our product outside of my living room. So we set up a tap system to serve our pressure-brewed ice coffee off a nitro tap and just gave away 5 gallons worth to the people in line waiting for their favorite band's limited releases. To our delight, the crowd loved it as much as we did and rest was history.”
After that, they did a series of coffee pop-ups around town, from bike shops to breweries to art galleries. In November 2014, they partnered up with local bike shop Vélo Champ to import the bike that would become the official Commune Coffee Trike, and got Journeyman Wood & Wares to custom make the keg box. “The trike has a built-in cooler that houses 3–5 gallon kegs of pressure-brewed iced coffee that we serve off the nitro tap,” says Davis. “The tricycle has been a beautiful addition to our business and has allowed us to gain a lot of momentum in full-time service.”
The coffee itself comes from Madcap Coffee Roasters and Ruby Coffee Roasters, two well-regarded American specialty coffee companies based in Grand Rapids, Michigan and rural central Wisconsin, respectively. For Commune + Co, the bike is only the first step for the business. They're also in the planning phase of building out a full-blown coffee bar and pressure-brewed ice coffee production facility featuring a tasting room, Modbar espresso bar and several manual brew options.
Davis isn’t the first to have a mobile coffee operation, and there are plenty of examples of bike and coffee setups around the country. The question then is: why are bikes and coffee so compatible? The two “seem to be a great, natural pair,” says Davis. “As much as we're coffee nerds, we love people. So the trike really does give us the ability to connect with people in the most unique spaces.”
Cheers to that.
Top photo by Joel Davis, used by permission.