Hidden Grounds cafe to 'wheel' out new coffee tricycle
Rutgers' four-wheeled food trucks may need to make room for a three-wheeled brethren that would deliver students a product they truly need: caffeine.
Hidden Grounds, a coffee shop located on Easton Avenue, is hoping to expand its horizons with a “Portland-esque” Nitro Cold Brew Tricycle. The custom-made 84-inch bike would dispense cold brew coffee from taps while traveling across the University's campuses.
Owners Anand Patel and Spoorthi Kumar are developing an online interactive map that would inform customers where the tricycle is stationed and where it is heading. A company called "Icicle Tricycles" will build the tricycle over the a two-month time span, and the bike would roll out for use next summer.
“We were talking about potentially mobilizing our cold brew so people could get it wherever they would like,” Patel said. “ ... The map would tell you where the tricycle is today, and where it is going to be in an hour, tomorrow and even a month from now.”
But this caffeinated dream could not become a reality without funding, so Patel launched a Kickstarter campaign on Sept. 3.
The campaign, which ends in two weeks, has a goal of $7,000. A bulk of the money, 62 percent, would go toward building the bike from scratch. Currently, 15 backers have pledged a total of $1,986.
While there has been vocal support for the campaign, Patel said it has not translated to contributions. About 1,700 people viewed the campaign’s 40-second video, but only 15 pledged money.
"We want this to be a Rutgers thing. I really love people supporting it," Patel said. "Something like this would be absolutely amazing for students who are going to class, so they can grab a cup of coffee quickly on the go."
Although the inspiration for the Nitro Cold Brew Tricycle stemmed from seeing the successes of the various food trucks on the College Avenue campus, Patel and Kumar realized obtaining a food truck license would be difficult and expensive.
Instead, Patel and Kumar began researching various coffee vendors in Portland using tricycles to deliver coffee to the public. The two contacted a handful of Portland-based coffee shop owners to learn how the bikes are built and the businesses are run.
“(The process) happened organically in trying to find a solution for people who want coffee, but aren’t able to come to Hidden Grounds for it,” Patel said.
If the campaign does not reach its goal by Oct. 1, the idea is not completely dead. Patel said a business owner from Morristown offered to fund the entire project for a percentage of the tricycle’s profits in its first year.
"That is a back-up option that is available to us, but if the campaign is successful, then we would want to build two of them," Patel said. "There are so many events going on in the summertime, so one (tricycle) could be stationary on College Ave. to specifically serve Rutgers students, while the other (tricycle) could be taken to different events."
The collaboration does not stop there.
Patel said he hopes to team up with other stores to sell sweet snacks from the tricycle, such as chocolate or granola, alongside Hidden Ground's cold brew.
"If (other businesses) want to collaborate with us to put a sponsorship logo on the bike itself, we would be more than willing to do that," Patel said. "We are open to collaborating with anyone who wants to be a part of this and use it as a marketing campaign."
Whether the project is backed by Kickstarter contributions or a generous backer, the Nitro Cold Brew Tricycle would offer an alternative to Au Bon Pain for students with a busy schedule.
"I know getting licensing (to station a tricycle on College Ave) is just a matter of time," Patel said. "Rutgers seem like they will be more than willing to issue us a license, it's just a matter of following the paperwork."