Feature: Coffee on bicycle, new way for Turks' daily caffeine fix

by Burak Akinci

ANKARA, March 27 (Xinhua) -- In northwestern Türkiye's Bursa city, a 27-year-old man ingeniously transformed his bicycle into a mobile coffee shop, a fresh idea for sipping a cup of coffee outdoors.

Enes Sefa Unlu left a promising career in airplane maintenance in Istanbul, the country's largest city, in 2020, and with the help of a close friend, refurbished an old racing bike into a one-of-a-kind coffee shop on two wheels.

The young man put into practice the "coffee on a bicycle" concept last summer after receiving brewing and presentation training from professionals.

His business has since become a major part of his livelihood.

Serving freshly brewed coffee to his customers, Unlu told Xinhua that he has managed to combine his two passions: coffee making and biking.

"The COVID-19 lockdown had an adverse effect on me because I'm very fond of my freedom. The pandemic ironically fueled my love for cycling, and then coffee came into the equation," Unlu explained.

While he was very sick with COVID-19, he received a photo on his phone from a friend who was visiting South Asia as a tourist, which showed a local vendor in Vietnam selling coffee on his bicycle. There he got the inspiration.

"He sent me a picture of this man, and I said to myself that I can improve on this idea with a different, unique twist, that of offering fresh and different kinds of coffees," Unlu said.

The entrepreneur started selling coffee he roasted at workshops, festivals, events, and yoga camps in the laidback coastal provinces along the Aegean and the Mediterranean, where new ideas are generally welcomed.

He emphasized that he adopted, at the outset, the third-generation or third-wave coffee trend with high-quality brewing techniques that require skilled craft.

The new trend also stipulates that beans are typically sourced from individual farms and roasted more lightly to bring out distinctive flavors.

"I have a specially-made big saddle fitted on my bicycle, which has everything I need to brew high-quality fresh coffee, and there is a growing interest in such coffee in Türkiye's rural areas," Unlu pointed out.

The bicycle coffee man is also an enthusiastic environmentalist. The pulp left after the brewing procedure is not discarded recklessly but conserved and returned to nature as compost.

"We all must protect nature, so I'm returning to nature what nature is offering us," he said, adding that, to ensure sustainability, he uses filters made of metal or reusable cotton cloth instead of the disposable paper ones.

Coffee culture is not something new in Türkiye. Turks have adored coffee for centuries and offered the world Turkish coffee, the sweet, strong, and usually bitter coffee prepped slowly in specially designed copper pots.

As a famous Turkish proverb says, "A cup of coffee can create a friendship that lasts for 40 years." This tradition is perpetuated through generations.

Turkish coffee culture and tradition were added to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2013.

In recent years, third-wave coffee shops have mushroomed in Türkiye's big cities, where mostly young customers use the opportunity to socialize over a perfectly brewed cup of coffee.

Surfing on this trend, as his concept of "coffee on a bicycle" was attracting attention on social media, Unlu decided to go national and expand his business.

He is currently brainstorming with some associates on his own brand of third-generation coffee and environmental-friendly coffee equipment that are soon to hit shelves in designed stores and on online platforms.

"I am also thinking about granting franchises to people who are equally interested like me regarding nature conservation, but that's something for the future," the coffee man added.

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