A $23,000, bicycle-operated coffee cart appeared in a corner on the first floor of the University of Colorado's University Memorial Center Wednesday but the cart will sit unused until later this summer, according to UMC staff.

The 300-pound cart sits on two wheels and has a bicycle attached to the front. Wooden panels surround the cart, which has a stainless steel counter, built-in refrigerator and a solar panel attached to the roof.

Robin Margolin, director of Food Services for the UMC, said they are waiting for a few adjustments to the cart and working on getting the proper health inspections done before the cart can be used but she's hoping it will be sometime this summer.

The bike was designed and built by Boulder company BikeCaffe -- a coffee franchise that typically serves Italian espresso from bike-operated coffee carts -- with input from university staff who made the request to include a solar panel to improve the bike's sustainability.

A BikeCaffe franchise, owned by a local man, opened on CU's east campus a little over a month ago, Ralph Massetti, President and CEO of BikeCaffe. The east campus location is a typical cart compared to the UMC's specialized design.

Massetti said the UMC cart is completely custom but that some of the features, like the solar panel, which was design by Boulder's Echelon Energy, are likely to become options for the franchise bikes.


The cart does not contain an espresso machine, like most BikeCaffe carts because it was an extra expense, Margolin said. The cart will likely offer drip coffee from Baby Doe's and other drinks and snacks which have not been decided.

Margolin said the cart is the "first of its kind," because the solar panel will allow the cart to be "almost self-sustaining."

"Depending on how we use the cart, it could use a small amount of electricity and battery power, but it will be low maintenance," Margolin said.

This summer, Margolin is hoping to test the cart on campus and at special events before students return for the fall semester.

Besides special events and catering, Margolin said they are still deciding where the cart will be used on campus. The Broadway underpass is one of the suggestions but nothing has been decided, she said.

While the cart is mobile, it's size and weight makes it difficult to move around so it's more likely that the cart will be parked in one place rather than relocating throughout the day, she said.

CU junior Landon Shumaker said he would rather the cart be more centrally located, like near the Norlin Quad or the underpass at College Avenue, but he said he's happy to get a coffee cart anywhere on campus.

"My day pretty much revolves around drinking coffee to stay awake and having a portable coffee cart will be clutch for a successful finals week," Shumaker said.

Massetti said once they start using the cart and see how easy it is to move, he's sure the UMC will change their expectations and be more open to moving the bike multiple times a day.

"We made this so it could be moved easily, that's the goal," Massetti said. "I think once they start using it they'll realize they can move it around every hour and even target busy spots on campus like when a lecture class is getting out."

For now, the cart sits just outside the UMC's first floor food court across from the bookstore and just down the hall from Baby Doe's Coffee and Bakery, where it will "live" when it's not being used, Margolin said.

The cart was funded through the UMC's budget and will eventually be revenue producing, she said.