Pedaling Perks: Delivering Coffee by Bike

bag of coffee being lifted from a cargo bike trailer

Since 2013, The Coffee Ride has combined their love of bikes and coffee to accomplish their goal of making others happy by delivering the freshest coffee by bicycle. Based in Boulder, Colorado, The Coffee Ride delivers their locally-roasted coffee to customers by bike. To learn more about their unique story, we interviewed owner Joshua Crane.

Q: Why coffee and why bikes? Tell us what The Coffee Ride is and how you got started.

A: The Coffee Ride is a coffee roasting company that specializes in roasting the highest quality ethically-sourced coffee and delivering our products locally around the cities of Boulder, Niwot, and Gunbarrel, Colorado by bicycle (we ship coffee too!). The Coffee Ride began with the combination of three things:

  1. Bringing our home-roasted coffee to our workplace (that had otherwise been offering the dreaded bad office coffee), and seeing the impact something as simple as sharing a quality cup of coffee with someone can have on their day.
  2. My own personal love for the simplicity of riding a bicycle and its positive environmental impact.
  3. My nostalgia for my grandfather Jerry the milkman – that connection to the product and the person who makes it all possible.

Besides the fact that both coffee and bikes are just awesome, I love how coffee has the ability to break down barriers. Since almost everyone enjoys a great cup of coffee, it can be the common denominator that brings different demographics together. As humans, we tend to break things down into categories in order to better process information, which can sometimes lead towards separation. Coffee can unite otherwise separate individuals. A triathlete, a mountain biker, a road cyclist, a commuter and someone who’s never ridden before can all share a moment together that starts with coffee. I believe this added perspective and understanding of each other can make this world a better place. It’s kind of deep, but it can all start with a cup of coffee. That’s why I’m in this business.

the coffee ride delivery by bike, Pedaling Perks: Delivering Coffee by Bike
the coffee ride delivery by bike, Pedaling Perks: Delivering Coffee by Bike

Q: How long have you used a Burley trailer for your deliveries?

A: We’ve been using Burley’s Nomad trailer from the beginning of the business; almost seven years ago now.

Q: What features made you choose a Burley trailer for making deliveries?

A: Over the last seven years I have personally ridden over 16k miles just on our Thursday deliveries alone. Some of our delivery days are over 40 miles. It’s important to have something that is light, has carrying capacity, is easy to hook up to different delivery riders’ bikes, and is durable enough to withstand all types of weather conditions. It’s pretty amazing how many miles we’ve ridden and the abuse we’ve thrown at our trailers and we are still using the same ones seven years later.

Q: What advice do you have for other people who want to launch a business based on their interests or talents?

A: I’m not going to sugarcoat it, it’s not for everyone and it’s not easy. But… if it is something that you truly feel in your heart you want to do, you should go for it. Starting a business is 100x harder than I ever thought that it was going to be, but if I love what I’m doing and it’s helping others, for me, that’s the fuel that I need to keep going. Looking back, I have always been a very entrepreneurial-minded individual, but I probably didn’t have many of the qualities or skills that it takes to run a business. If it’s something that’s important to you, you will learn and develop into whatever it takes to be your own version of successful.

Q: What is your favorite flavor/blend of coffee that you make?

A: My palate gets used to certain flavors and by keeping a constant rotation of single origin coffees and blends, everything stays new and unique. I would say I love our Ethiopian Yirgacheffe right now for its brightness and fruity flavors as well as our daily grind for its versatility and milk chocolate notes. It tastes like a Three Musketeers bar and when you add milk it’s pretty amazing.

Q: Where do you get the beans for your coffees?

A: We work with an importer that works directly with the growers to make sure our coffees are of the highest quality and sustainably farmed. While some of our coffees are certified organic and fair trade, those certifications are typically held by larger coffee growing operations. Our beans are typically sourced from small farms or growing communities that provide us with amazingly-unique coffees. These communities often go above and beyond what these certifications require, but are unable to absorb the costs associated with becoming certified.

bike and bike trailer parked in front of stone apartment building

Q: Where do you see The Coffee Ride in five years or ten years? Expanding to other cities? Opening your own coffee shops? Launching your own bike brand?

A: In five-to-ten years I would love to see The Coffee Ride expanding throughout our entire community, working with more cafes and retailers across the nation, shipping individual orders directly to your front door, and continuing to grow our local bicycle delivery service. To me community doesn’t necessarily need to mean close in distance, it’s more a feeling of belonging no matter where you are. I love the idea of building off our local bicycle delivery service and that the concept of “Coffee Ride” can mean whatever you want it to be. It can mean the ride the coffee takes from origin to cup, your favorite local bicycle ride, supporting our local bicycle delivery and sustainability efforts, or your favorite camping trip with your family. Life’s a wild ride itself and we want to give folks the ability to recreate their favorite personal life moments with every sip of our coffee no matter where they are.

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: We offer free shipping on orders over $45, fully customizable subscriptions so you never have to wake up without coffee on your day off again, and offer orders for both personal or business consumption. You can find us at thecoffeeride.com.

I would like to thank everyone along the way that has supported and been a part our own personal version of The Coffee Ride. We could never have made it this far on our own.