April 17, 2017
Morgan Taylor and I have two things in common: we both like drinking coffee and riding bikes. Over the years, our careers and riding styles have changed, but the enjoyment that comes with sitting down for a cup of coffee or cruising down the street on two wheels is still very much in place.
Recently, Morgan and his partner Stephanie started an early morning coffee meet-up for commuters. It takes place every Friday – rain or shine – in North Vancouver, and it’s a sweet example of how something as simple as brewing up some beans can grow into a bike-coffee-commuter community meet-up.
I joined in to find out more about #coffeeoutsideyvr and maybe to get some other Canadian cities interested in starting coffee and bike meet-ups in their own town.
Stephen: Why did you start #coffeeoutsideyvr?
Morgan: Last summer, we spent three months travelling by bike through the western US. On that trip, we had the chance to visit lots of people who were doing great things to foster inclusive community locally. Attending grassroots community events and spending quality time with humble and passionate organizers got the wheels turning for us: we came back home knowing we’d soon be hosting our own weekly gathering back in Vancouver.
“#coffeeoutsideyvr is all about fostering inclusivity, enabling new connections, and encouraging each other to do something fun and active – even when it’s cold and dark out.”
When did it all start?
After our trip, we spent a few months getting our home in order, settling in to our new work, and researching and testing locations around town. We launched #coffeeoutsideyvr on the first Friday of January 2017. We’ve been going strong ever since, with an average of 15–20 people showing up to watch the world become bright over camp coffee and homemade baked goods in all kinds of weather.
Where did the idea come from?
One of the people we spent time with on our summer trip was Robert Perks at his small shop, Ocean Air Cycles, in Ventura, California. Rob gets to take credit for starting the #coffeeoutside tag – which now has over 20,000 posts – and flies the flag of coffee-nerding and inclusivity in Ventura on a weekly basis.
What’s your favourite way to make coffee outside?
We unfailingly go with French press. We have a Snow Peak titanium press that we use when it’s just us outdoors, a classic glass Bodum at home, and a huge insulated stainless press that we bring to #coffeeoutsideyvr to make sure there’s lots to go around.
Who comes to this?
We couldn’t be happier with the way things are going. There’s a core group of people coming out that we didn’t even know before January, and new people are still coming out every week. Some of them we knew before, but most of them we didn’t! We try our best to make newcomers feel welcome, and ensure that everyone’s adequately fed and caffeinated.
“The best part is seeing people who didn’t know each other beforehand heading off together in various directions to the rest of their day.”
Since people come on all types of bikes and everyone has their own preferred way of making coffee, conversation naturally gravitates towards those topics. But after 12 weeks, we’ve come to know people beyond just small talk: connections made at this gathering have resulted in new friends and collaboration outside of the event, which is exactly what we were hoping for – and we’ve even gone on an overnight trip with some of the folks we met not long ago over hot drinks on cold and dark Friday mornings.
What kind of riders show up?
All kinds! And honestly, you don’t even need to come on a bike, or drink coffee. One of the insights we had when were looking to build community through a weekly event was to do something accessible and inclusive. From the dad who brings his daughter in a trailer (for #milkoutsideyvr, obviously) to the long-distance commuters extending their already-impressive morning rides to the folks who are extending #coffeeoutsideyvr into longer Friday morning adventures, we are so happy to have a wide range of people joining us.
Any advice for anyone who wants to start #coffeeoutside in their own town?
There are two main things to consider: time and place. Both are dependent on your local needs and your own schedule, but consistency is key. We guarantee that we’ll be at the same spot at the same time every week, so it’s easy for people to remember.
“A location that’s covered is ideal for all-weather use, and a nice setting with convenient access is good too.”
As for time, we landed on a weekday before work, but some people like to do weekend mornings. We did a group ride to check out spots before we decided on these details, and would recommend you do the same. And of course, reach out to those already running their own events and ask questions! The #coffeeoutside community stretches around the world and people are happy to share their knowledge.
Stephen: For my ride to #coffeeoutsideyvr, I borrowed MEC bike designer (and product manager) Tim McDermott’s personal Provincial Road 233. This bike is perfect for roads, gravel rides and biking to anywhere fresh coffee is being poured.