Brooklyn transplant Jodi Eichelberger wants his steampunk-y Stream Coffee and Tea Bike to feel like a caffeinated mirage--appearing seemingly out of the ether to quench the thirsts of passersby.
"I like being in off-the-beaten-path sort of places where it's a surprise. ... Everything is self-contained; I don't use any power or water sources. I pedal it all to where I go," Eichelberger said.
Though Eichelberger pops open his black-and-white-striped umbrella at random locales--next to the 36th Street footbridge, in front of Chandi Lighting, on the back patio of Healthwise off Bogus Basin Road--his cold-brew coffees are anything but random.
"I use a Japanese Yama tower, which has three chambers so the cold water goes on top, drips one drip every second and a half," he said. "It goes through a paper filter and slowly descends through the coffee grounds and then through a ceramic filter and collects. So it takes about six hours to brew about 750 milliliters. The coffee tower pretty much runs 24/7, but it makes a really delicious, clean coffee."
Reaching into a maritime-grade mahogany finished cedar box attached to the front of his bike, Eichelberger pulled out a glass bottle filled with Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, a light Dawson Taylor roast with berry notes. Pouring the brown elixir over ice, he explained that his elaborate cold-brew system eliminates about 70 percent of the coffee's acid.
"When you experience the coffee with all the acid, it kind of rushes to the acid receptors, which are in the back of your mouth," said Eichelberger. "When you take that away, you get to experience the coffee more on the front and sides of your tongue, so you're tasting more of the sweet and sour as opposed to just the acidic finish. You get to have a really different flavor profile from some of the same beans."
In addition to his cold brew coffees, Eichelberger also offers a number of other unique beverages.
"I do cold-brewed teas as well, and infused waters," said Eichelberger. "Today I'm doing a sweet mint-infused water and I also have a cucumber-infused water. The cucumber comes from a local refugee farmer from Global Gardens. ... And then I do pour-over for hot coffees."
He said the idea for his Stream Coffee and Tea Bike came to him on a long hike.
"I just really wanted to turn a corner on the hiking path and experience like a big tea tent because I don't like to pack things; I don't like to prepare," said Eichelberger, a smile spreading across his face. "I kind of designed it for someone like me, who would really love to have a cup of tea or coffee, but didn't prepare anything and also doesn't have any cash. So I do take cards as well."