Brad, the sole bike courier for Peace Coffee, is an essential cog in a wheel of change.
From the farmers of third world grower's cooperatives to the cups of globally-aware Minnesotans, each fair-trade coffee bean travels thousands of miles and is touched by the most committed and hard working hands in the organic movement. In the fair-trade coffee biz the local worker co-op, Peace Coffee, stands out above the rest. They think of the ecosystem over the individual, the global community over the profit margin and the 10-speed over the truck.
Brad presses the boundaries of eco-expectations by lugging about 300 pounds of organic fair-trade coffee by bike around the Twin Cities. Much like a pack mule high in the Colombian mountains, he pushes himself to the very limits. His daily grind takes him to Mississippi Market one day and the Wedge (Peace Coffee's top seller) the next. This demanding schedule leaves Brad with little time to relax or engage in other Peace Coffee affairs. "The convenient luxury of a break is secondary to the Peace Coffee mandate of selling fair-trade coffee," says Brad.
This Kenosha, WI native believes in the bike movement wholeheartedly, which led him to work at Freewheel here in Minneapolis. "Bikes remove the walls of our daily lives and they bring communities together. I truly believe it's only a matter of time before we'll all be on bikes," he says.
It wasn't until he volunteered at North Country Co-op that Brad's destiny with Peace Coffee started to unfold. "I fell in love with [Peace Coffee's] Birch blend," he says. With his love of biking and fair-trade organic coffee, becoming the Peace Coffee courier was a natural fit. "This is such an inexpensive and efficient means of delivery. For the price of a year's worth of insurance on a delivery van you can buy yourself a really nice bike," Brad explains.
Of course, there are the occasional vulgarities and threats thrown from speeding cars of the not so forward-thinking individuals. "I think I repress most of the bad stuff on the road. It's endemic of our society to have hostility towards people on bikes, but for every bad interaction there's at least five supportive people cheering me on," Brad says.
This local reporter enjoyed a ride on the Greenway and the annoyance of a honking car horn but will gladly leave this duty to a professional.
The torrential winds of a winter storm or the thick humidity of late July would keep the most well-intentioned citizens indoors. Brad's daily trek is not only his job, it is his passion. "Knowing I get to ride my bike helps me get up in the morning," he proclaims.
With thighs screaming and horns blaring, Brad's caffeinated cargo reaches its destination with the same dedication as the old mail carrier motto. He pushes through every seasonal change by blending thoughtful determination with global reverence. "The first unofficial day of spring is always the best. There is a positive vibe throughout the city, and that's when I get the most waves and smiles from people."
A cup of java served with compassion made Peace Coffee a quick hit among the local co-ops and coffee shops. As interest in their conscientious coffee brewed, Peace Coffee added a bio-diesel van to their dynamic family. This edition expands the delivery area beyond the scope of a Schwinn. "It's impractical to expect us to deliver coffee by bike to all of the suburbs and out of state. Having an alternative to gas made the change even more attractive." While Peace Coffee's origins are with bike delivery, bio-diesel or the occasional postage stamp allows for its national exposure.
"I'm obviously not the first bike deliverer, but I hope to continue setting an example for future viability in our cities," Brad declares.
The positive atmosphere of this peace peddler is contagious right down to the last drop. Next winter when cabin fever sets in, Brad will be riding down the Greenway dragging a couple hundred pounds of coffee through a below zero wind chill and he will be grinning ear to ear. He gives new meaning to the word devotion, and that's what makes really good coffee great.