This coffee connoisseur makes espresso running on a tricycle

In 2017, Robert Popper was living in London and working as a triathlon coach and sports massage therapist. Wherever he went, he was by bike. On a usually busy day, he found himself wondering: Can I find a way to transport mobile coffee on a bike?

Popper began doing research and soon came across Velopresso, a British company that makes tricycles with a pedal-powered coffee bean grinder (tagline: “tricycle/pop-up coffee bar”). Hit the inspiration. It took Popper a year to provide and buy Velopresso – today they started at over $13,000 – and then headed to the corner of a busy street in London, where he began his new career.

A year later, Popper returned to New York and was living in the Hudson Valley. He brought his Velopresso across the pond with him, and he was ready to start working here. He brainstormed with his wife Stephanie, and decided that the best place for Rob’s Roast Coffees would be local farmers markets, street festivals, and special or special events.

“It’s the perfect shape for us,” Popper said. “It’s not just commuters, busy rush hour coffee, and more of a special occasion,” Wow look at that kind of thing. “

Seeing a Velopresso does, in fact, stop people in their tracks. On a recent day at Goshen Farmer’s Market, a line of people eager to try coffee made by tricycle soon formed.

Velopresso operates in two modes: cycle mode and coffee mode. In cycle mode, it can be moved to pop-up cafe mode. Once placed, it is converted to coffee mode. The pedals power the grinder and belt inside the machine. Once the beans are ground and flowed, the pump draws fresh water through an onboard espresso machine to make the beverage.

Although the machine is eye-catching, Popper wants people to be impressed with the coffee even more – and they are. After a customer tried her first sip, she turned to me and said, “This is really good coffee.”

Popper has been roasting for seven years and his business is seen as part of the craft beverage industry. He even switched Stephanie from putting cream in her coffee to drinking it black. Stephanie also provided her own notes to help perfect the roasting technique.


Indeed, coffee has always been a part of the couples’ story: The Poppers met at a coffee shop, got married in a coffee shop, and then opened their own — a brick-and-mortar building on Liberty Street in Newburgh. . Unfortunately, he was a victim of COVID.

“If we had known that there was an imminent global pandemic, we might have made different decisions,” Popper said. “It’s been good for us for about three years.”

But after the Poppers closed the doors in the spring, they returned to Velopresso to share their coffee with the masses once again. Stephanie describes Rob’s Roast Coffees as “bold but smooth,” and is excited to see everyone’s reactions after the first sip.

Robert Popper and his wife Stephanie collaborate with Rob’s Roast Coffees in Newburgh.

Chloe Callahan

“We’ve developed something we love,” Stephanie said. “It’s not for everyone, but people who love it are totally devoted and cult-like in their weekly or monthly orders. We don’t try to mix the sugary, syrupy stuff in our coffee; we have what we know we’re doing really well and that’s what we want to communicate to people.”

Rob’s Roast Coffees roasts their own beans: a bold, dark roast that Poppers says stands out during a time when most roasters are transitioning to a medium roast. Everything is freshly ground by Velopresso. “You can’t get any fresher than that,” Stephanie said.

But what Poppers really love at the end of the day is simply sharing their coffee and a one-of-a-kind process.

“The way it shows itself, whether in a coffee shop or in a mobile environment, is to try to serve the coffee as simply as possible and demystify the entire world of coffee,” Popper said. “Whether it’s the process, the making of the coffee at home, the best equipment, or why coffee tastes like this or that, where you get your beans—any such question I enjoy because I don’t want it to be too fancy—pants, experience simplicity Where you feel separated from her.”

Aside from the Velopresso, Poppers is refurbishing an old tractor trailer to add to its fleet of coffee delivery vehicles. The tractor trailer will provide a movable option to do over-pour and filter coffee (Velopresso makes espresso-containing drinks). They also offer a monthly coffee box, which includes four bags of coffee hand-picked by the popper.

Rob’s Roast Coffees can also be found in local stores throughout the Hudson Valley, including Wallkill View Farm Market, Newburgh Vintage Emporium, and Meadowbrook Farm Market. They can also be purchased directly from the site and deliveries can be made within 30 minutes from Newburgh.

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