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Say Hello to Handlebar, Seattle’s Newest Bike-Based Popup

handlebar coffee seattle

Owned by David Rothstein and Alex Johnstone, Handlebar Coffee is currently popping up throughout Seattle.

Coffee and bikes: They go together like a horse and carriage.

In the case of Seattle’s newest mobile bar, Handlebar Coffee, the horses are co-founders David Rothstein and Alex Johnstone, and the carriages are the two parts of the 120-pound custom-made mobile bar they tow around on their bikes. The pair have been popping up Handlebar throughout Seattle at street corners, farmers markets and anywhere else there might be a wealth of thirsty pedestrians.

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“We definitely want to build up a killer schedule and event calendar,” Rothstein told Daily Coffee News.

The bar itself is composed of aluminum cargo trailers covered by wooden frames, with modifications to allow for a propane stovetop for heating water and electricity for grinding. “We basically shoved a cafe into a pair of wooden boxes,” Rothstein says. “Both of us were new to woodworking, but we played with designs until our carts started to come together after tons of troubleshooting. We are constantly trying to improve them.”

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Following the “human power” concept, the pair is focusing on manual brewing, including French press, Aeropress and Hario V60s, with Bonavita gooseneck kettles. Says Rothstein, “Equipment that’s lightweight, easy to clean and not easily breakable is obviously preferable.”

Handlebar is currently serving single-origin coffees from Seattle-area roasters including Velton’s, Kuma, and Conduit Coffee, and Rothstein says the main qualification for coffee served is “exciting quality.” The cart also includes some loose leaf teas from B Fuller’s Mortar and Pestle, as well as small selections of pastries from Fremont’s Flying Apron Bakery.

Why bikes? “Human power is renewable, petroleum is not,” Rothstein says. “We’re trying to set an example of what you can do inside a minimal footprint.”

(related: British Designers Create Bike-Powered ‘Velopresso’ Espresso Cart