Article: Bicycle Ride Across Georgia

Written by Cafe Campesino on Apr 6, 2010 in Article, NEWSLETTER |
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Bike Ride Across Georgia (BRAG)

Cafe Campesino will this year again be serving Fair Trade Organic Coffee to the Bike Ride Across Georgia. The story of Cafe Campesino’s participation at BRAG is often requested in the portable coffeehouse that we have set up in close to 100 different cities across Georgia through the years.

Every year, the week long bike ride chooses a different route, and in 1999, Bill Harris, founder of the then very young Cafe Campesino, heard that the ride would be stopping in our hometown of Americus. Bill contacted the ride director, Jerry Colley, to find out if Cafe Campesino could serve coffee to the riders as they came through town. The timing couldn’t have been better as that year there was a need of good coffee for the ride. Jerry encouraged Bill to serve Café Campesino coffee each and every morning. Bill, who himself is a biker, got excited but realized he wouldn’t be able to ride, brew coffee, and manage his new business by phone on his own. So he asked his new friend, Geoffrey, if he would be willing to come along to help. Neither one had any idea what they were getting themselves into!

They packed up as many coffee brewers as they could find, extension cords, serving containers, and whatever else they thought they might need into Bill’s Ford Explorer and headed off to the start of the ride. The plan was (and still is) to offer a week-long ticket good for all the coffee you can drink every morning of the event. A 7-day bottomless cup of coffee. Brilliant and convenient. Another good idea: Bill had some handmade Guatemalan bracelets that were given out to identify those that were all paid up for the week. Fun stuff.

That first year was a bit rocky, especially with the electric brewers plugged into a variety of unusual locations along with extension cords running everywhere, but we pulled it off, and everyone had their fill of fresh brewed, fair trade, organic coffee each day. Bill even managed to ride one day. Geoffrey remembers well the day Bill was sitting on his bike, in all the proper attire, taking phone calls about international coffee purchases just before riding off with the rest of the riders.

Seems that the smell of fresh brewed coffee in the morning at camp was a big hit, and each year more and more riders signed up and tied on the colorful bracelet. One of our helpers, Victoria from Manchester UK, was a highlight and we keep working to convince her to come help again as it has never been the same without her.

Another idea that proved effective: Rather than throwing out the extra coffee from the morning shift, we decided to cool down the coffee and make iced mochas in the afternoons. Holy milk cow, was that a hit! Now we have to brew extra coffee every day to quench the thirst of riders after completing their daily journey. We have taken to serving them up regularly in the portable coffeehouse, often complemented with music (sometimes live; thanks Scott, Alan, and some other talented riders), and many great conversations. One couple even got to know each other while hanging out at the coffee house and the next year came back to hang out as a married couple.

We look forward to serving coffee at the BRAG Spring Tune-up on April 16-18, an annual warm-up ride this year in Madison, Georgia, and again in the fall (October) for Bikefest in Tifton. The big ride will this year be a loop ride beginning and ending south of Atlanta in Fayette, stopping off in Newnan, LaGrange, Columbus, Thomaston, and Griffin. The dates of the ride are June 5-12. Word is there are still spots available in all three rides, so be sure to get signed up before May 1st to save $30. You will have a fun filled week, meet the fantastic crew that organizes the event, feel great about your accomplishment, and of course don’t worry about having great coffee, just stumble out of your tent, or out from the indoor camping and follow your nose to fill your cup with Fair Trade Organic Cafe Campesino coffee! Hope to see you there.

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