Wheelys launched its first bike café in 2014 and, since then, has rolled-out over 550 in 60 different countries. Its bikes have grown too, becoming electrified, adding more brewing facilities and getting greener. The latest incarnation takes the cafe-bike concept beyond just coffee.
The premise of Wheelys is that it allows people to start their own cafe for much cheaper than the cost of opening brick and mortar shops or signing up to a major franchise. Its cafe bikes are aimed at being inexpensive to run, environmentally-friendly and mobile, so that they can be moved where there are customers.
The Wheelys 5 bike is dubbed the "Open Source," not because the intellectual property is free to use as you wish, but because the bike can be tailored and adapted to the barista's requirements. Like the versions that have gone before, it can be run using solar power and is equipped to serve coffee and snacks. In addition, though, the Open Source is offered with a number of modules for selling a variety of different products.
A Drip Station module allows baristas to brew the traditional drip-filtered coffee that has been a Wheelys staple. The company has always espoused this mode of brewing as being popular, tasty and quick, while still allowing the barista time to talk with their customers and explain the process. Now, though, drip-brewed coffee can be mixed and matched with other offerings, or done away with altogether in favor of alternatives that are more popular with local customers.
Coffee-wise, there are now more ways to take it. An Espresso module can be run on either electricity or propane gas, a Turkish Coffee Kit module provides all the equipment required for traditional Turkish preparation, including a grinder, cezves (or pots) and a sandpit, and a Nitro Keg module provides cold brewing functionality.
Branching out from strictly coffee, a Juice Bar module comes complete with two blenders for making smoothies, there's a Crêpe Machine module complete with a hot plate and an Ice Cream Box module that can keep popsicles cool.
As with previous Wheelys bikes, there are a host of cafe features, including three burner gas stoves, a sink with running water, power points, foldable tables, storage and bin rings. Other useful features include lighting, signage, an integrated digital display and 3G mobile Wi-Fi.
The bikes are available with either a 250-W motor and a 36 V/10-Ah battery, or a 500-W motor and a 48 V/14 Ah battery. In addition to helping to power the bike itself, the battery is used to power the bike's various electrical appliances. It can be charged from the mains and there's also a 150-W roof-mounted solar panel, which means that it can effectively be run off-grid on clean power. Furthermore, Wheelys says that, if the baristas recycle their coffee grounds, the cafes can actually be carbon negative.
As before, Wheelys has launched a production drive on the Indigogo crowdfunding platform. At the time of writing, pledges start from US$5,849. A further $199 per month gives baristas access to Wheelys advice, business cards, branding, advertising, goods to sell, support and workshops on how to brew, among other things.
If all goes according to plan, Wheelys estimates that the 5 cafe bike should be ready for shipping from December (at the earliest).
The video below provides an introduction to Wheelys and the Wheelys 5 bike.
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