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This pedal-powered espresso machine definitely combines two of my passions: Bicycles and coffee! I still have a few questions looming such as how do they keep all the saucers and cups from breaking? And how much does the whole ride weigh? But I’m still excited to see this project go from concept to prototype.

We wanted to showcase efficient human-powered, cycling-based technology that could easily replace electrical equivalents given the right context and to instigate more sustainable urban business models. Our goal was a robust, versatile and ‘go anywhere’ machine that could produce high quality espresso coffees with the smallest physical and operational carbon footprints.

The video below gives a demonstration of the machine from bean to cup, using camping gas to heat the boiler, with plans for future versions of the machine to use ethanol derived from waste coffee grinds. The video also contains no sound, which is a shame because the last question I have is what does a motor-less pedal-powered grinder sound like? Lots of technical details can be found on their website.


Nick Normal

I’m an artist & maker. A lifelong biblioholic, and advocate for all-things geekathon. Home is Long Island City, Queens, which I consider the greatest place on Earth. 5-year former Resident of Flux Factory, co-organizer for World Maker Faire (NYC), and blogger all over the net. Howdy!



  1. Cool Idea! Regarding making sure the cups and saucers won’t break, can u use DIY thermocol/Styrofoam stand which acts as a damper for vibrations?!

    1. Nick Normal says:

      I too was trying to think of a solution. Paper cups obviously are light and durable, but not necessarily renewable. Ceramic cups are longer lasting, but prone to break in this situation. It’s a good problem to have!

  2. david williams says:

    cool, wish I had one of these at home.

  3. James Ashby says:

    It uses a boiler to heat the water, so it’s not really pedal powered. Traditionally, espresso was made on a burner, not with electronic gadgets. So what is exactly is this, putting an old-school espresso machine on a bicycle cart with some supplies?


    1. Nick Normal says:

      Are you saying all forms of espresso should only be made how it was originally engineered, and all other forms should be objects of derision? Also, do you have links to something you have made lately so I can see what you’re up to? Thanks!

      1. James Ashby says:

        Others have made my point well. But to defend your insults directed at me. No, I would not say only traditional espresso machines are worth of respect. Building a traditional machine would be impressive as would building some modern device to obtain the result in a novel way.

        But this…is an espresso machine on a cart. Calling it a pedal powered espresso machine is as silly as saying I have a gasoline powered espresso maker because I can drive my car through the starbucks drive through lane.

        1. James Ashby says:

          Also, as for what I’ve made lately. Make magazine has a nasty reputation of going nuclear on the attack/bullying anyone who disagrees with your editors, your response to my post is a perfect example, oh of I don’t want to be impressed by the crap you post, what have I made lately. Really? That’s where you, the make editor wants to go? Seriously?

          What killed Make for me was your remake america edition and the fallout from the negative public reaction. I cancelled my subscription that week and have no desire to contribute content, and frankly I barely post here because of how nasty most of your editors are.

          Now, in the past few months, I’ve built an Arduino-powered LED message board using sure electronics modules which gets content from twitter over an ethernet shield as well has having an onboard real-time clock, temperature sensor and humidity sensor. I’ve built a sick-of-beige compatible PCB which mounts 3 max7219-controlled LED matrices, an arduino nano, an rtc clock and some perfboard space. I also wrote a cute little epoch countdown to show how many seconds are left in the unix epoch on my message board.

          Sorry, I haven’t had time to duct tape a sears coffee pot to a moped, so I suppose I can’t really impress you much. But please feel free to continue being a pompus jerk, you fit right in with make magazine, and thank you so much for reminding me why I rarely come here anymore.

        2. Nick Normal says:

          Hi James,

          Exactly what “insult” did I direct at you? I’m okay with you calling me a “pompous jerk” because I know I’m not, and everyone who knows me knows I’m not.

          Please email me if you want to have a more thoughtful and cogent conversation: nicknormal [at] gmail [dot] com


  4. Sockatume says:

    James Ashby: I really doubt that this is a gigantic Moka pot. (Which doesn’t really make espresso as many people would understand it, although it’s still delicious.) Espresso is normally made under pressure. The description on the page implies their machine might in fact be one of the ones where you apply the pressure yourself with a lever but it’s a bit vague.

  5. I definitely want one!

  6. t1i2z3 says:

    It’s a great bit of engineering, but I too was misled to think that the pedals somehow compressed the air used to help in the steam injection for espresso. No big deal and no offense meant; it’s far better than anything I’ve ever done.

    1. Nick Normal says:

      I see – I didn’t read my post title as misleading until just now. I’ll take that into consideration when crafting titles in the future – thanks!

  7. John Taylor says:

    It’s a great idea. Cycling, and drinking coffee along the way.

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