October 29, 2018

Coffee and Cycling – Spin X LCF Xmas

First Published - November 27, 2013

Cementing the longstanding relationship between cycling and coffee, just in time for the festive season, Spin X LCF Xmas is a collaboration between the organisers of Spin London, The Urban Cycle Show and the team behind The London Coffee Festival on the 29th November to the 1st December.

Come down to Spin X LCF

We’re going to be at the event doing brew demos, sampling and taking orders for Christmas gifts. Grab some microlots or sign up someone for our Roastmaster, with specially selected beans (whole or ground to your needs) delivered monthly to your door. The organisers have signed up some amazing international brands and smaller independent makers to showcase their wares, with everything from cycling fashion and handmade frames, accessories and cycle-wear, to beans, brewers, grinders and espresso machines.


Why we love bicycles

Here at Union we’re longstanding fans of the not-so-humble bicycle, for a special reason: we understand the difference it makes to our producers when we help them to get credit to buy a bike. We’ve seen how farmers benefitted directly with the Coffee Bike program in Rwanda. 1,000 specially designed bicycles were distributed to selected coffee farmers in 4 cooperatives.

The Coffee Bike Project

Rwanda is blessed with the ideal condition;  high altitude and rich soils perfect for producing speciality coffee.  Rwanda the “land of 1000 hills” – has very steep inclines making carrying heavy loads of freshly harvested coffee cherries for several hours over long distances very difficult. To reduce transport time and increase coffee quality, renowned mountain bike designer, Tom Ritchey, the father of the Mountain Bike, worked on a new ‘cargo’ bike design for developing countries. “Project Rwanda” was created, to manufacture and distribute an inexpensive but high-performance cargo mountain bike designed to carry heavy loads of up to 200kg of freshly harvested coffee cherries, over difficult terrain.

Better quality coffee

The bike coffees yielded 3.5 SCAA quality points higher than non-bike coffee at the Maraba washing station, supporting other research experiments on the effect of cherry transport times on coffee quality. This higher quality enabled farmers to produce more high quality coffee, and receive up 20% more for this crop. The cooperatives set up a micro credit system to give the farmers the credit they needed to buy the coffee bike. Farmers agreed to pay the loan and agreed to bring their cherries by 3PM to the washing stations.

Many producers live far away from their cooperatives so having a bike can mean cutting their travel time from hours to minutes, and no more carrying heavy sacks of beans. It also means the beans are delivered in better condition and so gain a better price. Coffee-bike coffee was kept separate from other coffee and evaluated for quality and sold on its own quality merits which means better coffee for us, and again, better prices for the producers. They gain more independence as they can take the beans to the mill the moment they are ready, rather than having to walk.  All in all, the bicycle can be one of the farm’s most important tools.

Competition time

We’re running our Daily Draw during every day of Spin, to win some great goodies from the lovely folks at Chapeau.

We’ve hand-picked delicious coffees to taste and buy, and don’t forget that everyone who buys a 6 month Roastmaster subscription will go into the prize draw to win a Mahlkonig Vario Grinder. We’ll have some very special microlots on taste too, come and ask us to try.

So, on your bike, and we’ll see you at the show!  

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