Caffeine machine

John Hanna-Barton

Photo by Vic Cantu

Some people just love their coffee. Others can’t get enough of their bikes. Stay-at-home dad John Hanna-Barton loved both, so he combined the two and created what he calls his “dream business”: Shift Bicycle Cafe, which opened last month. He built a classy, pedal-powered, “off-the-grid” coffee cart stocked with organic and locally sourced products. To pour his drinks, he refurbished one of the world’s first pump-driven espresso machines: an Italian Faema from 1963. Wife Brisa has been with him for the ride. “There were many times I doubted his sanity,” she says. “Now he’s riding it downtown and I didn’t think he’d make it out of our driveway!” Find John from 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m., Tuesdays through Thursdays in front of Greenline Cycles (515 Main St.), and Saturdays and Sundays on the Sixth Avenue side of Enloe Medical Center. Contact him for events on Facebook or by phone at 720-5604.

What makes Shift Bicyle Cafe unique?

I get to set much higher standards for coffee quality and products than many coffee houses. My goal is to only serve the best, locally sourced products. I use Northbound Coffee Roasters from Mount Shasta for espresso, coffee and pour-overs. I also use Chico Chai, a local favorite. I’m completely off the grid. I use batteries, an inverter and propane to heat things. I don’t use a generator because they’re noisy, smelly and nobody likes them.

How has business been?

The initial response was amazing and absolutely wonderful. On opening day, Chico came out and flooded me with support. It’s a little slow lately because coffee is a routine and I’m trying to break people’s routines and become their new routine. But I love the work-life balance and flexibility of owning my own business.

What inspired you to start the business?

I became a stay-at-home dad when my wife had our daughter two years ago. While pregnant she asked me, “What will you do when our daughter goes to preschool?” I loved how bikes and coffee went together. It’s kind of a ritual to drink coffee before a ride. I was a bike mechanic at downtown’s Cyclesport for three years, and managed both Starbucks and Peet’s Coffee.

Do you set up at events?

I’m available for them. I’m going to do the Wildflower at the end of April, and the Downtown Stage Races for bikes around the end of February.

How do you feel about your accomplishment?

It’s been an amazing 1 1/2-year journey from the thought in my head to physical manifestation. I knew there was a finish line, but was the light I saw at the end of the tunnel a train or daylight?