New 'coffee bike' rides into East Lansing
Downtown East Lansing’s newest place to buy coffee isn’t really a place at all: it’s a bicycle.
The “coffee bike,” located at the corner of M.A.C. and Albert Avenues outside the East Lansing Marriott at University Place, is a branch of Lansing-based independent coffee shop Blue Owl Coffee Co. The bike is open from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Monday to Saturday.
Nick Berry, the co-owner of Blue Owl, said the store decided to open the cart downtown to attract more business from MSU students.
“We were just doing it for marketing, to get the word out,” Berry said. “But it turned into something that people really really enjoy.”
The cart was built with the help of a metal artist in Grand Rapids, and after talking with the city to figure out permits for a bicycle coffee shop, it was time to begin.
“There was the day when we opened and we were like, ‘This is probably the dumbest idea I’ve ever had, we’re gonna go sell coffee on a bike,’” Berry said. “I’ll never forget that morning.”
But despite the initial worries, Berry says that business is going well, and the cart — originally used to cater events such as weddings — is attracting enough business to sell two to three gallons of coffee per day.
Steve Hammes, 33, works on MSU’s campus and was already a patron of Blue Owl’s main location on Washington Ave in Lansing when the coffee bike rolled into place in downtown East Lansing. His reaction?
“Finally, good coffee in East Lansing!”
And the coffee bike isn’t just a coffee sales platform. It is, indeed, a rideable bike.
“I ride it to and from Ann Street every day,” Berry said. “I park the trailer over there and ride all the way over. Once you get used to it it’s fine, but it did take awhile to get used to driving 500 pounds.”
Though it doesn’t necessarily handle like a dream, it certainly does entertain passers-by. Berry says pedestrians often cheer him on as he rides.
“Everybody’s just like ‘yeah, way to go man!" he said.
With business going as well as it is, Berry has no plans to close up shop or ride away.
“We’ll probably be out here until around November, and then once spring comes around we’ll be right back out, so that’s our intention, hopefully to build something of a fleet," Berry said.