Although running an artisanal food business may seem like a dream job, small-batch producers spend plenty of time between a rock and a hard place. Take distribution: Often what's best for growing a business is anathema to local ideals (sustainability, community interaction).
But our favorite outfits are nothing if not crafty: The latest experiment in dovetailing these two oppositional interests has been the bike.
Coffee Baristas were some of the first to take up pedaling. New York's Kickstand Coffee brews a rotating selection of high-end coffee beans on its Chemex-equipped bike-carts, on which they use hand grinders to grind their beans and heat water over propane stoves. BikeCaffe, a recent London import that also brews directly from a cart attached to a bike, doesn't boast the same cult coffee touches, but it has a fleet spread out across Denver, Phoenix and Philadelphia.
Delivery Sherpa-esque trips to farmers' markets have been put to rest in Minneapolis, where VeloVeggies packs up "Veg-Boxes" (now taking orders for the 2011 season) and picks up CSA loot, delivering them to customers' homes via bicycle. New York's From Earth to Kitchen offers similar services, along with recipes from local chefs. And in the biking capital of Portland, Oregon, soup arrives via SoupCycle, which made its 20,000th delivery last week.
Documentary Annie Lambla, the Yogurt Pedaler, biked 750 miles through the Midwest this past summer, stopping at local dairy farms and making yogurt from their milk at different points on her on her journey. Her accounts and videos of the trip make a fascinating survey of the region's foodways. And the brothers Bromberg of Blue Ribbon fame are developing a television series in which they follow the Tour de France route on bike and stop at France's best farms, restaurants, vineyards and hotels along the way.
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