On the first day of classes at the University of Colorado, CU senior Nick Ackermann was pedaling a heavier load on campus than most students on bikes. His ride weighed in at about 300 pounds.
But Ackermann, an employee of the UMC, was at work. He was pedaling milk, coffee and baked goods on a new, $23,000, solar-powered coffee cart around to the front side of the UMC Monday morning, where he then peddled muffins, fruit and cups of coffee to fellow students.
“It was not light,” Ackermann said. “I don’t think just anyone could ride it around campus, but I think I’m in pretty good shape, so it wasn’t too bad.”
The new cart was custom-built by Boulder company BikeCaffe, a coffee franchise that typically serves Italian espresso from bike-operated coffee carts, and is powered by solar panels on the roof of the mobile cart, said Robin Margolin, director of Food Services for the UMC.
The cart will be in the same location, just west of the UMC’s front entrance, near the newly opened Broadway underpass, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. all week, Margolin said.
While the cart will remain close to the UMC — only yards from the Baby Doe’s bakery in the student center — students said the outside location is more convenient.
CU senior Marcie Gonzales purchased some cranberry bread at the cart Monday before her 11 a.m. class. She said she rushed to campus early that morning without breakfast but didn’t have time to wait in line in the UMC to get something before her next class.
“This is really convenient,” Gonzales said. “It’s right on my way to class.”
Gonzales was one of the cart’s first customers this week, but Margolin said she expected the station to get off to a slow start as students adjust to the new construction around campus and finding their way to and from classes. She’s hoping business will improve later in the week as students get more comfortable with their routes and have more time to spare between classes.
Ackermann said all items were priced so that they would come out to an even dollar amount reducing the time it takes to give change to those paying with cash. The cart currently takes cash, credit and debit cards, but not campus cash.
CU sophomore William Friedman was riding his skateboard to the Hill, where he was heading to work as a cook at the Kappa Kappa Gamma house, when he stopped at the cart for an apple and water.
“It was nice not to have to carry my board up the stairs and into the UMC just to grab a quick drink,” Friedman said. “It’s really a hassle, so this was a lot easier since I could just go right up to the cart.”
Margolin said they are still experimenting with the location and offerings, which will likely include hot soups and oatmeal when the weather cools down.
The cart is also available for catering and special events and will be located outside of Folsom Stadium during home football games, Margolin said.
Even though the cart hasn’t been around for long, Margolin said she’s sure it will be a successful revenue generator for the UMC and is hoping to purchase more carts in the future.