We sat down with Stuart Reed, owner and operator of Buon Giorno Coffee Trike, to chat sustainability, what it’s like to brew gourmet coffee without electricity, and how he was forced to take the leap into starting up his business.
“I own and operate a completely pedal-powered mobile coffee shop,” Reed says. “It’s the first pedal-grinding bike that works with no electricity, no motors or plugs.”
The lever-style machine is heated with propane, which Reed says provides versatility as far as where he can serve espresso.
“Making espresso at home is difficult and costs around $1-2K for an entry-level setup,” he says. “Coffee counters require power and extension cords— the pedal machine is much more adaptable and economical.”
On a typical day, you’ll find Stuart Reed and his pedal-powered coffee trike parked on tree-lined Magnolia Avenue in the heart of Fort Worth, Texas.
“The best shops are there. One in five of Fort Worth’s best restaurants are located here—it’s considered a BBQ hotspot,” Reed says. “I usually set up next to a modified Airstream trailer, which has been converted into a plant shop—across the street from a bakery. There’s good synergy between the businesses.”
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A Fort Worth native, Reed has worked as a professional barista for the last 10 years. He attended Oregon State University, where he earned a degree in sustainability and spent time on his bike for the duration.
Reed didn’t know the level of difficulty he would face while looking for a job in sustainability.
“I knew I was going to be pioneering sustainability but I didn’t realize there wouldn’t be any jobs for me. I couldn’t find a job for 2 years—nothing. I’ve been daydreaming about this coffee thing for 5 years. About a year ago I said to myself, let’s see if this dream will work.”
Reed built out a business plan, pitched it to a bank, and received a business loan.
“I purchased a trike from velopresso, who is the manufacturer of the coffee machine. They spent thousands of hours on prototyping and they developed the first pedal presser. Currently, there are only seven of these trikes located throughout the U.S. and I own the only one in Texas,” he says.
COFFEE. BIKES. SUSTAINABILITY.
It’s easy for Reed to get excited about going to work every day because he combines his three largest passions in life.
“My motivation is being able to combine my three biggest passions: sustainability, coffee, and biking,” he says. “More specifically, the psychology of sustainability—why people use resources they way they do.”
“I love drinking, making, and serving people coffee. I enjoy customer service, education, bikes, and sustainability—not just using them but inspiring other people.”
Finding customers is not-so-difficult when you run the only coffee trike in town.
“The trike is magnetic. It’s a show-stopper, I like to call it coffee street theater. People walk by and stop and ask questions even if they don’t buy the coffee.
“My mission is to show Fort Worth that sustainable businesses can be fun, functional, and financially viable.”
Reed’s original goal was to bring awareness to sustainability. “It’s the creative expression of my degree. It gets people thinking about zero-waste systems and not using electricity. There’s no trash, everything is compostable and recyclable. The only impact is propane and the trike is efficient at using resources,” he says.
IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW SLOWLY YOU GO SO LONG AS YOU NEVER STOP
Reed offers his advice for other food entrepreneur hopefuls.
“Don’t quit your daydream. That’s all I had left and it continues to motivate me. The making-a-living piece will come. For now, I’m having fun and I always will even if I don’t make a couple bucks,” he says.
Insurance has been an important factor in Buon Gormo’s success.
“FLIP is convenient and affordable. It’s given me the freedom to operate as usual without having to worry about little things that might happen along the way—it’s a safety net for me. FLIP is what I was looking for—banks require it and I wanted to find a good company that I trust and policies that are specific to my needs as a mobile operation,” he says.
Reed’s goal is to move into catering larger events. If you’re interested in learning more about Stuart Reed and his business, Buon Giorno Coffee Trike, please visit his website and connect with him on Instagram.
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BY AUSTIN DYKSTRA
Austin Dykstra writes about marketing, business, and insurance for small business owners and entrepreneurs.
Austin Dykstra has written about everything from Instagram marketing to online reputation management. He is now firmly entrenched in the thrilling world of insurance. You can find Austin on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter, where he’s meekly re-entering the fray after quitting during the 2016 election cycle.