V e l o p r e s s o ™ is an innovative coffee vending trike for true off-grid selling of quality espresso on city streets, at trade fairs, events and in parks, etc. Designed from the ground up around a custom rear-steer tricycle, a unique pedal-driven grinder, and a robust gas-fired lever espresso machine, Velopresso is a celebratory fusion of human power, sensory pleasures and technology – old tech with hi-tech, bicycles and coffee, their engineering and aesthetics. The result is a unique hybrid machine with a compact footprint and near-silent, low carbon operation – fine coffee, no electricity, no motors, no noise!
The UK-manufactured production model will be available for pre-order in early summer 2013. Pricing to be confirmed. All images are of the prototype.
The entire Velopresso prototype is an original design, including the trike frame, the grinder and the espresso machine. The following machine overview and technical specifications stated below (and in the video) refer to the Velopresso concept and the particular specification of the prototype. In the process of developing the production model there will be revisions, specification changes and new features that will improve on the ergonomics and functionality, and further address the day-to-day needs of the cyclist–barista.
Designed specifically to meet the ergonomic requirements that allow the cyclist–barista to both ride the trike and also comfortably and efficiently operate the coffee machinery from the saddle, something that no existing trike designs could offer.
The frame is designed to also meet the structural and spatial requirements necessary to locate and transport the considerable weight of the espresso machine, grinder, transmission, plumbing and storage drawers along with the on-board supplies of water, milk, beans, etc. Steel is used for the main structure, stainless steel and aluminium for the surfaces.
Rear-steering and front-wheel drive give a very tight turning circle and optimal transmission arrangement. The transmission incorporates both roller-chains and belt-drives and a lever-operated clutch mechanism that allows the pedal drive to be switched from powering the wheels to directly (mechanically) driving the grinder.
Bicycle components have been selected for performance, strength and longevity from traditional, MTB and BMX origins, complemented by custom-engineered elements.
Removable, weatherproof and digitally printed canvas display panels provide a large surface for custom branding by the end-user. Lighting and a sun/rain canopy are among the new features being addressed in the production model.
- Trike: rear-steer, front-wheel drive custom design
- Frame: steel tube and box section, powder-coated (colours optional)
- Wheels: 20″ BMX rims, MTB through-axle hubs, ‘balloon’ tyres
- Transmission: roller chain and Gates carbon drive
- Clutch: custom clutch mechanism to shift transmission between ‘drive’ and ‘coffee grinding’ mode
- Steering: custom rear-cable steering with removable handlebar
- Brakes: front – hydraulic twin disc brakes; rear – mechanical with parking brake
- Saddle: traditional Brooks B33 sprung saddle
- Surfaces: stainless steel, laser-cut
- Display panels: removable, weatherproof, digitally printed for custom branding
- Storage drawers: 4 for beans, cups, tools etc., 2 fully insulated cooler drawers for milk (12–16 litres) and freezer blocks
- Water tank: 22 litre, pressurised potable water tank (feeds boiler)
- Waste: knock box (used grinds), drip tray linked to 12 litre waste tank, bin
- Lighting: to be incorporated in production model
- Canopy for weather protection: to be incorporated in production model
The pedal-grinder is designed around large conical burrs, as found on the industry standard Mazzer Robur. Operating on the principal of grinding on demand per drink, using volumetric dosing of the beans and grinding direct to the portafilter, close to zero grinds are wasted or retained in the funnel.*
Bean dosing can be adjusted to achieve dosing in the range of 14–21 g double shots (or 7–10 g singles) by inserting different sleeves into the rotary dosing compartment. The grind adjustment collar offers stepless adjustment with the same fine control of the Robur.
A grease-free and maintenance-free Gates carbon belt connects the grinder to the pedal drive. Pedalling comfortably at 80–100 rpm creates 200–250 rpm at the burrs, maintaining an efficient grinding speed whilst never risking overheating the beans. A traditional 14 g double shot dosed direct to the portafilter takes about 5 seconds easy pedalling, whilst an 18 g double shot is around 8 seconds.
As there is no electrical motor, operation is very quiet… just the sound of the beans themselves being ground. From the cyclist–barista’s point of view, the act of grinding for a few seconds each cup keeps you active during the working day and simultaneously turns grinding into a surprisingly satisfying and tactile experience, keeping you in touch with both the quality of the beans and the condition of the grinding burrs.
* In the demonstration video, grinds are seen clinging to the mouth of the funnel, this amounted to less than 0.5 g and was due to the cold autumn weather in London creating static. The funnel itself does not retain any grinds as it is ‘swept’ clean by a rotating stainless steel ‘whisker’.
- Prototype design – pedal-powered commercial standard grinder
- Precision-engineered in food-grade aluminium, stainless steel, brass and clear acrylic
- Burrs: 71 mm conical burrs (like Mazzer Robur)
- Grind adjustment collar: stainless steel, stepless adjustment, 1.5 mm thread pitch, sprung burrs
- Bean hopper: 0.5 kg (Mazzer Mini)
- Volumetric doser: sleeving options give dosing equivalents 14/18 /21 g, +/- 0.5 g
- Grind funnel: stainless steel, push-fit for quick cleaning
- Drive: Gates Center Track carbon belt and pulley (1: 2.5 gear ratio)
- Speed: typically 200–250 rpm at burrs (80–100 rpm pedalling)
- Easy to pedal
- Timing: 14 g double shot in 5 seconds, 18 g double shot in 8 seconds
- No electricity required
- No motor noise (only the sound of beans being ground!)
- No overheating of beans
- Tactile grind feedback for barista
A compact, single-group espresso machine designed around the most robust, simple and efficient solutions for producing a high quality espresso (and flat whites, cappuccini, etc.) in both outdoor and indoor situations without any need for electricity.
The single boiler is heated by a powerful but compact multi-fuel burner, currently set to run on camping gas.* From cold it takes approximately 15 minutes to get up to operational temperature / pressure (1 bar) in the boiler. Once up and running, the burner ticks over at a low power, consuming little fuel.
With its powerful spring mechanically regulating shot timing and pressure (9 bar), and its mass of solid brass lending thermal stability at optimal temperature, the commercial spring-lever group reliably produces perfect espresso shots. A complete cycle takes 60–90 seconds from bean dosing through grinding to serving the finished drink, depending on barista’s skills.
A sight glass indicates the water level and when required the boiler is topped up manually via the sprung-return inlet valve that draws pre-filtered water from the onboard 22 litre feeder tank.
A steam arm provides ample steam for heating and foaming milk for flat whites, cappuccini, etc.
* In the near future we hope to provide an alternative burner optimised for running on ethanol
- Prototype design – gas-powered, spring-lever machine
- Group: commercial 58 mm spring-lever group, solid brass (thermosiphon option to be considered for production model)
- Boiler: 4.5 litre copper boiler
- Sight glass water level indicator
- Steam arm: 2-hole reducer steam tip
- Burner: multi-fuel mountain stove (equivalent 3 kw output)
- Water inlet: sprung return valve
- Pressure safety valve
- Anti-vac valve
- Water tank: 22 litre, pressurised filler tank, mounted inside trike, filled at start of day with pre-filtered water
- Waste tank: 12 litre, connected to drip tray
Velopresso was conceived against the backdrop of the sustained global renaissance in cycling that is being driven by the desire for more sustainable cities and lifestyles. At last, the hundred-year dominance of motorised vehicles is being seriously challenged, with cities like Copenhagen (Denmark) and Portland (USA) leading the way. Services previously reliant on motorised transport are being increasingly performed by bicycles, cargo cycles, tricycles, etc., and this is happening alongside a more general deepening and expansion of bicycle sub-cultures. Meanwhile the urban coffee scene, on a rapid rise since the mid-1990s, continues to expand and diversify into increasingly specialist market niches, including an emerging convergence with cycling culture, most noticeable in the form of bike cafes. Velopresso engages directly with these burgeoning, ‘zeitgeist’ urban cultures while turning this relationship on its head – with the cyclist now providing the coffee by pedalling.
Our research into this project began in spring 2011, but draws on several decades of cycling experience, our industrial design and communication backgrounds, and a shared love of bicycles, fine coffee and the beauty of efficient mechanical machinery. These passions are coupled with a firm belief in the need for designers to contribute urgently towards radical change in the way we live. We wanted to showcase efficient human-powered, cycling-based technology that could easily replace electrical equivalents given the right context and to instigate more sustainable urban business models. Our goal was a robust, versatile and ‘go anywhere’ machine that could produce high quality espresso coffees with the smallest physical and operational carbon footprints.
With our pedal-grinder design and deployment of a traditional spring-lever group for the espresso machine, we all but eliminated the need for electricity. But pedalling was not an option for either generating heat directly or producing sufficient electricity for an espresso machine’s standard 3 kw heating element, so we turned to a mountaineers’ multi-fuel burner, running initially on camping gas. We see this use of a fossil fuel as a temporary solution that in time will be upgraded with a new burner running on ethanol fuel derived from used coffee grinds. This proposed production of ethanol fuel from the sugars in waste coffee adopts the existent progressive model of alternative zero-carbon fuels being derived from abundant urban waste streams, with intelligent collection of the substrate and localised production. We have begun the necessary laboratory research and process design modelling and see this ‘coffee fuel’ as our principle goal once the machine is in production.
We see Velopresso as a small cog in a much bigger wheel of change, a step in the right direction, and are motivated by a determination to be part of a bigger solution. By presenting this kind of efficient, fun and more sustainable option for a popular and highly visible application – coffee on the go – we hope to encourage more people to take up the challenge of seeking alternatives to electrical and fossil-fuel based energy sources for our everyday transportation and service needs.
Why choose Velopresso
Whether you are an independent barista or an international brand, Velopresso offers many unique benefits, features and opportunities from a business, environmental and experiential perspective.
- is a complete and compact ‘go-anywhere’, off-grid coffee-vending solution, which enables optimum pitch potential with minimised operational costs and the highest quality, freshest ground ‘made to order’ espresso shots, cappuccini, flat whites, etc.
- has a low-carbon operational footprint which lends useful ‘green credentials’ to facilitate access to operate in more sensitive locations and environments with emission restrictions
- introduces to our cities a new and engaging way of making and selling coffee by the cyclist–barista’s slick operation of the pedal-grinder and lever espresso machine, while also demonstrating the multi-faceted potential of highly efficient pedal-powered machinery
- offers the cyclist–barista the benefits of both an ergonomically designed machine – being seated yet pedalling during your working day, resting your feet, but also keeping you active and warm – and a tactile and satisfyingly direct involvement with the bean-grinding process: not just another push-button experience
- offers brand visibility and brand association with a smart real-world and ‘zeitgeist’ solution for selling a product in increasing demand and drunk by millions every day
- offers unique branding opportunities for both street-vending and one-off events, through custom branding of the generic vehicle via the replaceable, digitally printed weatherproof display panels (2 x one square metre)
- provides opportunities for brand association with a popular example of ‘future-thinking’ around innovative sustainable energy strategies, via a machine with a highly appealing and cutting-edge aesthetic design
Velopresso Ltd was founded in 2012 by product design partners Lasse Oiva and Amos Field Reid. The two London-based designers first combined forces while studying product design at Royal College of Art (RCA). Velopresso is their first major joint project.
Amos Field Reid
Amos achieved a first-class degree in furniture and product design at London Metropolitan University and worked as a freelance furniture designer/maker and design consultant before completing an MA on the Design Products course at the RCA, where he was the recipient of a Man Group Scholarship. Prior to working in design he had a ten-year career in film production as a researcher and project coordinator. Velopresso represents his first large-scale design project that draws on his life-long involvement with cycling, which includes five-year stints of road and track racing and working as a London bicycle messenger, as well as many years of daily urban riding.
Lasse studied industrial design at Lahti University of Applied Sciences, Institute of Design (Finland). While at Lahti he completed projects with manufacturers and technology firms including Rocla/Mitsubishi (forklift); Kemppi (welders protective wear) and Lahti Precision (precision machinery). Before attending the RCA he worked as a freelance designer in Finland on projects for ISKU (task chair) and the Economic Information Office (children’s learning environment). Lasse is also one of the founding members of the Helsinki-based, multi-disciplinary design studio Musta Design, a keen fisherman and committed cyclist.
Field Reid and Oiva are currently building the team that will take Velopresso from prototype through to production and sales.
The Velopresso prototype was developed with generous support from within the bicycle and coffee industries, academia and beyond.
The project as a whole is also particularly indebted to the support of Anita LeRoy, AJ Kinnel, Professor Jeremy Woods, Dr Michael Ray, Reiss Gunson, Adrian Maxwell, Simon Kinneir, Ilya Poropudas, Roosa Tulvio, Octavia Reeve, Ivan Coleman, Adam Chan, Jim Walsh, Philip Varley, Diane Gelon, Christopher Sheppard and Sally Potter; alongside our colleagues, technicians, senior staff and platform 14 tutors André Klauser and Ben Wilson at the RCA.
A Delicious Life – New Food Entrepreneurs , Gestalten, April 2013
The Perfect Place to Grow: 175 Years of the Royal College of Art November 2012
Roast magazine – Daily Coffee News 13 November 2012
The Cool Hunter 5 November 2012
BikeBiz 24 October 2012
Outside 18 October 2012
Bike Rumor 17 October 2012
Gates Carbon Drive 16 October 2012
Springwise 26 September 2012
Gizmag 26 September 2012
Treehugger 24 September 2012
Trecool 24 September 2012
Architizer 20 September 2012
Finalist SustainRCA Award, 2012
Pininfarina Design Contest, 2012 (2nd prize)
Deutsche Bank Award in Design, 2012 (winners)
Finnish Cultural Foundation (grant award), 2012
Exhibitions, Events and Trade Shows
Richard Rogers RA: Inside Out, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 18 July – 13 October, 2013
Anjou Velo Vintage, Saumur, France, 22–23 June, 2013
A Perfect Place to Grow, Royal College of Art, London, 15 November 2012 – 3 January 2013
Copenhagen Cycle Culture, Chelsea Old Town Hall, London, October 2012
SustainRCA show, Royal College of Art, London, September 2012
Eurobike 2012, Friedrichshafen, Germany, August 2012
Pininfarina Design Contest exhibition, Italian Cultural Institute, London, June – July 2012
Show RCA 2012, Testbed Gallery, London, June 2012