[Photo: Alex Johnstone]
Handlebar has been pedaling coffee for less than a month, but the pair of handmade bike-pulled carts are getting attention wherever owners Alex Johnstone and David Rothstein decide to park and brew. Johnstone, a self-described coffee "home enthusiast" and Rothstein, a former barista at Seattle Coffee Works, got into brewing coffee outdoors while backpacking and rock climbing.
The idea for Handlebar hatched about a year and a half ago, when the college-aged friends began asking, as Johnstone says, "how can we bring this cool concept of human-powered food into the world of huge, power-generating food trucks?" They began to research environmentally friendly food carts in other countries, especially the Netherlands and Malaysia. "There's lots of bike powered and human-pulled food over there," Johnstone says.
The pair began to build two coffee carts from scratch. "We took some ideas from other bike-based businesses and used our own creativity," Johnstone says. "When we started building [the carts] we were meeting constraints like how much can you pull, countertop height. We've had to learn each step of the process as we've done it."
Handlebar brews a rotating list of single origin beans via pour-over, Aeropress, or French press from a trio of area roasters: Westlake's Conduit, Interbay's Kuma, and Everett's Velton's. No syrups are offered. Tea and a few pastries are. "We only serve delicious roasters and teas...all sourced from local business owners that love their craft," Johnstone says.
He says Handlebar has been "received really well, which is awesome. To us the carts seem crude and handmade, but people have been happy and say that they look finished and kind of fancy."
Handlebar set up shop at Peddler Brewing during Bike to Work Day last Friday and are planning collaborations with Cascade Bicycle Club and Seattle Parks and Rec. For now, find them at the Ballard Farmers Market on Sundays.
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