FAQ

How much does a Velopresso coffee trike cost?

Velopresso coffee trikes are made to order for each customer and cost £10,495.00 including custom-made branding panels to your design. The price excludes custom options, accessories, crating, delivery and VAT as applicable. For full details please refer to the Price List and Specification pdfs.

How can I buy a Velopresso coffee trike?

Every Velopresso trike is individually built for each customer, by us, the designers and sole manufacturers, here in London. To order yours please go to the ORDER page to find out more, or contact us by email and we can arrange to speak on the telephone or by Skype. We have welcomed visitors for demonstrations and test rides from all over the world. If you are able to visit us in London please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Do you ship worldwide?

Yes we do. See our Delivery Guide for more information and guide pricing for a range of countries. If your destination country is not listed in the guide please contact us for a quotation using the CONTACT page.

We have had a great deal of interest from individuals and businesses from all five continents and right across the globe. We believe Velopresso can be a success in many different environments. When our production volume is large enough we will look towards setting up distribution in countries/regions around the world. But until overseas distribution is set up, the machine will be able to be purchased directly from us and shipped overseas (in our bespoke Velopresso shipping crate) as a private import only.

Can I hire a Velopresso and professional barista for my event?

Yes! If your event is in the London area or surrounding counties you can hire us. Please see our HIRE page, and the Coffee Service Hire guide pdf on that page for full details. If your event is outside of that area or in a country other than the UK, please refer to our interactive world map on our COMMUNITY page to find the nearest Velopresso operator to you.

Is there any electricity involved?

No. In its standard format Velopresso does not use any electricity. The grinder is powered directly (mechanically) by pedalling, and the espresso machine uses a spring-lever group to draw the water from the boiler and generate the 9 bar of pressure for extraction. For heat the espresso machine* is fitted with a gas burner and it runs on standard cylinders of LPG (propane or butane). The new lightweight gas cylinders with fibreglass/composite instead of heavy steel, work very well and are widely available. This is a highly efficient, reliable and robust system, as there are no electrical components to breakdown.

We now offer (since January 2017 ) the option of a *dual fuel espresso machine. This means that the water in the boiler of the espresso machine can either be heated by the gas burner or by an electric heating element in the boiler running on mains electricity. This enables the Velopresso to be used inside buildings where the use of a gas cylinder is prohibited. This option is available in the UK, EU and other countries around the world where mains electricity is compatible. This dual fuel system is used on the other models in Fracino’s industry leading FCL1 range of which our FCL1-Velo is part of. See the p.13 of the Specification for more information.

Is pedal-grinding tiring?

No, not at all. The pedal force involved (torque) required to grind coffee beans is nothing like the effort of riding a bike because you do not have to overcome ground or air resistance or gravity! You are stationary – parked – and simply pedalling a very smooth, geared transmission to directly turn the grinder burrs. Without the beans there is no experience of resistance at all. When you dose the grinder with beans you feel some resistance at the beginning – and there is a simple technique to overcome this – but then it quickly eases off to a very light feel.

It is a common misconception to relate pedal-grinding to the more familiar effort of using manual hand-grinders: Grinding by hand is very slow because (a) the burrs in hand grinders are about half the diameter of commercial burrs and so have far less surface area for grinding, and (b) operating a hand grinder you only turn the burrs at about 60–80 rpm. Using the Velopresso GR1-Velo pedal-grinder is a totally superior experience and the speed and grind quality is the same as commercial electric grinders. To start with we use large commercial conical burrs – Ø71mm as used in a Mazzer Robur – and then there is the speed (rpm) of the burrs: Your legs are much more suited to the job than arms (and your hands are also left free to prepare the coffee). Pedalling at 100 rpm generates speeds of between 300 and 400rpm at the burrs, and grinding an18g double-shot dose on a Velopresso takes 8 seconds or less, (whereas an average handgrinder might take 1.5 minutes).

Working on a Velopresso machine throughout a working day gives the barista some gentle exercise which is good for your health and keeps you warm on cooler days, but it would not replace a real exercise regime! If you want real exercise go for a swim, run or out on your bike! Pedal-grinding is too easy!

How do you keep milk cool?

Simplicity is the key. The four larger storage drawers are designed to accept our insulated Coolbox inserts that with the addition of multiple ‘ice packs’ — of the kind used by campers — inserted at intervals between the milk containers milk is kept cool. In testing so far we have found this to be very affective throughout a long day. The ice packs are then simply put into a domestic home freezer overnight to be “recharged” (frozen) and ready for use again the next day.

The regulations about keeping dairy products cool vary between UK, Australia, USA etc., but are based on the same principles and very similar temperature/time factor limits.  We have simply made the simplest, robust and best performing thermal system we can within the space restrictions of the Velopresso, and it generally works incredibly well, particularly if you ensure your milk is very cold (ideally 5 degrees C) to begin with. Here follows a detailed description of the system and some anecdotal test results for guidance:

Milk is kept cool in the four large aluminium drawers – as described in our machine Specification pdf. The coolbox inserts are highly insulated flat pack fabric assemblies that are like camping coolbags, and they are designed to fold from flat into a rectangular box that fits exactly into the any of the 4 large drawers. Two of the freezer blocks fit into net sleeves on the under side of the insulated lid of the coolbox insert, two more go at the bottom, and then you add at least one more between the milk containers, so cooling is above, below and between the milk containers, minimising heat loss.

There are four large drawers on the Velopresso (and two small ones above for tools, beans, cups etc.). Three x 2litre (4pint) milk containers can fit in each drawer with the coolbox inserts fitted, so if you use all four large drawers for milk you can have 24litres of 48 pints of milk on board at one time. We use a minimum of 5 ice packs per insulated coolbox drawer as standard, and add more on hot days.

The milk should be used in sequence, so you start by using the milk in the ‘active drawer’ (usually middle right), transferring fresh milk from the other drawers to your ‘active’ drawer only when required to minimise the number of times the majority of the drawers are opened and therefore minimising heat gain.

Using this method in our own tests milk has been maintained at a temperature of between 5 and 8 degrees celcius (C) for 6–10 hours in temperatures ranging from 23 to 28* degrees C.  For a particular example:  at a London trade show (inside a building) the ambient temperature was 23 degrees C. The milk in our ‘non-active’ drawers remained at 5.1 to 5.9 degrees C for over 10 hours with just 5 of our freezer blocks in each drawer.  The legal requirement in the UK is to not exceed 8 degrees for more than 4hours, so we are well within that performance range.

*We have not tested above this temperature but Velopresso owners around the world will have operated above this temperature and may have more feedback to offer. Hotter countries do pose a greater challenge, but generally speaking less hot milk-based drinks are served in hot weather, and you can always improve performance by adding more ( 1 or 2) freezer blocks and possibly reducing the amount of milk in order to make room – as needed – for them.

 

 

How long does it take to make a coffee?

The short answer is the same as it does for any other single barista operating a single-group lever machine… but then it comes down to how good is the barista? Do you mean an espresso or latte, a double or two singles? These elements all affect the “speed” of course. But lets look at this a bit closer starting with grinding – please first watch the ‘Making Coffee on a Velopresso’ video on the ABOUT page, to get a good idea, as although it is edited the grinding sequence is in real time: dosing and grinding a double shot takes a total of about 10 seconds, then there’s tamping, loading the portafilter in the group and pulling the shot. The pull itself – including the pre-infusion pause of around 6 seconds with the lever down – is of course a standardised timing of around 25-30 seconds depending on your preferences, so for that first double espresso, or two singles, it would take around 45 seconds. If you include steaming and pouring milk, taking payment from the customer, etc., this might go up to 60-90 seconds, but ultimately this would depend on the skill of the barista.  With sufficient skill the barista can multi-task so that the drink cycles overlap, and the Velopresso operation can achieve  40–50 drinks per hour, i.e. an average of 1.1 to 1.5mins per drink, allowing for serving, steaming and pouring milk, taking change, etc. (see our video ‘Time Trial # 2’ for a demonstration).  Do not confuse this with statistics found on other manufacturer’s sites which tend to quote a figure based on the maximum number of single espressos the machine can make in an hour with respect to the shot pull and recovery time of the machine only. We have done our own ‘espresso’ test of this kind (see our video ‘Time Trial #1’) and the Velopresso output is 100-120 shots per hour. With Velopresso the emphasis is on quality – of the whole experience but particularly the freshness of the grind – and while a single group can’t compete with a 2 or 3 group cafe setup and multiple baristas for pure “speed” alone, the quality of the drink and the experience is unique! Please see the ABOUT and SPECIFICATION pages, and Order Guide for more information.

What brand of espresso machine do you use?

Our Velopresso FCL1-Velo espresso machine is a unique design produced in collaboration with the design team of award-winning UK espresso machine manufacturer Fracino, who recently celebrated their 50th anniversary. Fracino manufacture this commercial single group gas-fired lever machine exclusively for Velopresso at their factory in Birmingham. The design is based on the long established FCL-1 dual-fuel machine. From January 2017 the FCL1-Velo can also be supplied as a dual-fuel machine with the option of running on gas or mains electricity. For more information see SPECIFICATION.

What brand of grinder do you use?

Our GR1-Velo grinder – the first and only pedal-driven commercial coffee grinder in the world  – is designed and manufactured by the Velopresso team, and is built around large 71mm ‘Mazzer type’ conical burrs. For more information see SPECIFICATION.

Can I put other machinery on the trike?

No. Velopresso is a unique and fully integrated espresso coffee based solution, using unique machinery specially designed for it. Due to the specialist nature of the operation — in particular the pedal-powered grinder, the mobility and the ergonomics required to operate a grinder and lever machine whilst seated on the bike saddle — total bespoke solutions were required. If there had been machines on the market that could do these jobs as well as we feel the Velopresso specific machinery can, then we would have used them!  For example the FCL1-Velo espresso machine is a design developed with Fracino – the UK manufacturer – from their standard FCL1 machines, but made far more compact in the process, as well as incorporating other key features such as the stainless steel bolt-through feet that enable the machine to be fixed securely to the trike – it is also the most compact commercial machine available.

If you are interested in using the Velopresso tricycle for something other than espresso coffee then that really is a different situation and we can explore that option with you.

What about lighting?

Velopresso does not have any built-in lights as standard, but we offer our Rear Clamp Light and Lezyne Femto front lights as accessory options – see Specification (p.7) and Price List.

The Rear Clamp Light (in black or silver, anodised aluminium), is a unique part we developed for the Velopresso that replaces the twin-bolt clamp at the top of the rear (steering) forks, elegantly covering the headset and neatly housing a rear (red) Lezyne Femto LED light at the same time.

Matching Lezyne Femto front lights can also be supplied and are easy to attach to each of the front facing hand rails on the Velopresso, giving a ‘twin headlight’ appearance and signalling the width of the trike.

As with all ‘bicycles’ on the road visibility is very important, and bicycle lights should be added by the user to meet your local road safety and legal requirements. It is also recommended that high visibility clothing should always be used when riding, day or night.

Is it easy to maintain? What about spare parts?

The trike, grinder and espresso unit all share the goal of being as robust and as simple to maintain as possible and not having any electrical elements certainly helps with this goal. Simple daily routines for the coffee machinery will keep the machine in good working order. The grinder can easily be maintained by any experienced barista as part of their daily routine. Similarly the tricycle will use mostly standardized bicycle components to make sure it can be repaired locally. However, it is possible that certain specialist parts may still have to be ordered from the Velopresso team.

Can you grind whilst riding along?

No. There is a clutch mechanism that allows the pedal-drive to be switched from powering the front wheels (ride mode) to powering the grinder and water pump (coffee mode). You cannot do both at the same time for good reason! At the core of Velopresso is the goal of the highest quality ‘made-on-demand’ coffee. In terms of freshness this means the shortest possible time between grinding and pulling the shot, so grinding should really only ever be done immediately prior to pulling a shot….no pre-grinding, no stockpiling of grinds, just grind and pull, bespoke coffee. Besides, riding a bike in the city (and even moreso a state-of-the-art espresso trike) and making high quality espresso coffee both need and benefit from your fullest attention!

Is there somewhere to wash hands on the trike?

Being able to wash your hands during the working day is highly desirable and in fact most health & safety authorities around the world will require any mobile catering operation without access to a nearby sink/tap with running hot water, to have a facility on board, so the operator/barista to be able to wash their hands as required.

The only facility built into the Velopresso for running hot water on the trike is the hot water outlet on the espresso machine, but that water is obviously very hot indeed as it is for hot drinks. This supply can be useful for adding hot water to a bowl – with care to avoid scalding – for cleaning a portafilter or the general cleaning up at the end of the session, but it is not suitable for use as a supply for for handwashing as is obviously far too hot for that purpose, and cooling down in a bowl and using it that way would not fulfill the H&S requirement for the supply to be ‘running water’. So, we have another solution which is a product manufactured for exactly this situation:

The Tealwash Handeman HMP portable hand wash unit, is a portable sink with an insulated water store.  At the start of each day/work session you add hot water to the insulated storage tank in the unit  (we would recommend you do this from a mains hot water tap, not the espresso machine). When you want to use the hand wash unit you fold out the sink basin and turn on the tap and wash your hands using soap as required, rinse and turn off. It provides enough hot water for ten 12-second hand-wash cycles. The water is kept warm by the double wall insulation, like a ‘Thermos’ flask.

There is a space in the front of the Velopresso trike for locating the Handeman HMP, and it can be strapped down so it doesn’t move when riding. It can be used quickly and efficiently in this position by simply opening the front panel (velcro holds it in place at the sides, bolts at centre only) opening the folding basin, and turning on the tap.

This well-made robust product can be bought directly from the UK supplier or from us as an optional extra – see price list (on ORDER page).  These units are used widely in mobile catering trade, and are approved for this purpose in the UK, and endorsed by the mobile catering trade association here called NCASS. They are also used by nursery schools, gardeners, etc., anywhere without access to a mains hot water supply, and highly recommended.  There is also a model available that has a 12v electric element and thermostat to maintain a temperature. Although these electric units are intended for us in motor vehicles it is technically feasible to run them of a suitable modern lightweight and compact LIPO battery and so is another option for use on a Velopresso if required.

When selling coffee on a Velopresso where do you put the money from customers?

This is really down to the individual cyclist-barista but the sets of drawers on each side of the trike have central-locking operated by a key so there is some security. The smaller top drawers on either side are best suited for locating a ‘cash tray’. It is also becoming common for mobile retail operations to take payment via ‘smart-phone’ payment systems such as iZettle, and this may eventually become the default option in many cities and is worth investigating for its suitability to your business. We are also developing our own ‘cash tray’ solution that fits into the top drawers which may become available as an accessory in 2018. Please ask for details.