A Growing Bike Cafe Trend Hits America

Friday, March 25, 2011

Not long ago I published a piece about Austin, Texas, where I shared a favorite spot of mind which I stopped in — well, three times — over the length of my weekend trip. Mellow Johnny’s  Bike Shop is perhaps more known for its famous owner, Lance Armstrong, than for its spandex or coffee. Yes, coffee . . . at a bike shop.

Juan Pelota is the in-house coffee shop. It’s just one example of a growing trend among the cycling culture. Of those three visits, two of them involved stops for a cup of java, where I enjoyed the morning paper an outside table typically next to a few sweaty, lycra-clad cyclists just done with their morning ride.

“Good ride today?”

“Beautiful, beautiful morning,” the cyclists said bringing the cup to his mouth; a scone on the table in front of him.

Scenes like this invariably draw some kind of connection between cycling and cafes. In Austin, the sun was creeping between the downtown buildings, near-by construction workers were just arriving to work, and there was a steady stream of bike commuters, hard-core cyclists, and even non-cyclists through the cafe.

Turns out, this whole biking/coffee combination trend is catching on, as this recent MSNBC article pointed out:

Most bike cafés sell, repair or rent bicycles; others only have bike pumps or simply reflect a bike-themed ambience. Some are high-end, or quaint with funky, mismatched furniture. Some hang works from local artists, are known for their microbrews, and for their selection of take-as-you-wish old paperbacks. Many, predictably, sell state-of-the-art biking gear and designer biking clothing. All, it seems, serve excellent coffee.

So, are these cafes the bicyclist version of a Harley Davidson dive-bar? Probably not. America may be taking a page from Europe’s strong bike and café culture. Perhaps cyclists just need a welcoming place to gather for pre-ride caffeine jolts or post-ride hangouts.

Either way, cafes like Uphill Grind Bicycle and Coffee in Madison, Wisconsin, Pedal-A-Latte Cafe in Seattle, or Look Mum No Hands in London are likely coming to a neighborhood near you.

And yes, it really was a “beautiful, beautiful morning” on many levels.

[Orbea shop has coffee by richardmasoner/Flickr]
By Jon Wick


About the Author

Jon lives in Butte, Montana, spending most of his time on skis or bikes; sometimes both. He began travel writing while teaching in Korea and is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree in Technical Communication at Montana Tech. Jon has begun writing his first book, The Story of Will, whose movie rights are still (very) available. Catch more of Jon at TheJonWickproject.wordpress.com. (@ExpedJon)

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