h a l f b a k e r y
A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside a rich, flaky crust
add, search, annotate, link, view, overview, recent, by name, random
news, help, about, links, report a problem
or get an account
Nov. 30 2004 © 2004 HalfBakery
Future News Service.
Neil Shotman's second day on the job
went far smoother than his first. He'd
managed to cinch up the straps on
the backpack tank to reduce sloshing
and found the nozzle length
adjustment clamp so the dispenser
now felt like an extension
of his left
hand. Gone were the noisy, spilling
freshman efforts of his first day.
Were it not for his caffeine induced
grin and generally friendly mien he
might be a scary sight with his large
back pack and wide pants. But by
now, the city dwellers were
accustomed to Neil and the small
army of other Café Pedestrian
entrepreneurs just like him that
appear every morning all over town.
They can be found at the exits of
train stations major buss terminals
and the main doors of large office
buildings before the earliest shifts
By week two, Neil's regular customers
had stopped asking about his
predecessor on this corner and
instead resumed the random, pick-
conversations Neil was quickly
becoming known for. When pressed
about the business as a business,
Neil would say, "The suit is the
business." And right he may be. The
"suit" is made up of:
A backpack mounted insulated coffee
An insulated dispensing tube and
valve (to user's non-dominant hand)
An old-fashioned belt mounted
change dispensing machine
A personalized hat featuring a jaunty
coffee cup and saucer
A pair of spring loaded cup sleeves
(pant-leg mounted, ironically)
A tank top warming oven full of
A chest mounted serving/condiment
No flavored coffees here, only serious
coffee drinkers need apply. Tea is,
however, available since the tank
pack does have a "clear" section that
carries and produces the very hot
water Neil uses to simultaneously
heat and "temper" the coffee. This
tempering is needed since the coffee
is brewed quite strong and then held
at a warm but not hot temperature to
preserve the aromatic volatiles for
the drinker. This approach keeps the
coffee from becoming bitter in transit
and creates a side business in tea as
To complete the package there is a
warming oven atop the tank that
dispenses fresh baked croissants. In
keeping with the simplicity of the
business there are only croissants.
Strangely it dispenses them one half
pastry at a time... Even if Neil sells a
whole croissant he must reach in
twice and extract two halves. While
Neil and the regulars have become
used to it, new customers sometimes
balk at the convention. But tasty as
they are, Neil has had to place a per
customer limit on the confections:
two and a half...
[DrCurry, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]
Chai & clay cups
(Apparently not all chai wallahs are peripatetic.) [DrCurry, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]
||Oddly enough, baked in India, where chai wallahs patrol train stations and elsewhere, offering cups of tea, not coffee, in disposable clay cups that resemble homemade flower pots without the hole.
||Do they serve Nan with the chai? I
need a nan walla for sure...
||Baked in the US also, where at sporting events you can buy coffee from a guy with a big tank strapped to his back.
||Ok I need to get out more... dang.
||do you have a linky for me
||i don't even remember the brand of coffee they carry, sorry. it's the one with green and red vertical stripes, i think. starts with a b-something. Any american football or baseball stadium would have these guys, in particular during cold weather.
||er, on second thought, i found a link to something similar.
||cocka! cool link. Now this device is
less romantic than mine but there
it is fairly well baked...
||just to clarify, i like this idea, even though i don't drink coffee. Btw, in that mongolian pizza idea you mentioned Oakland? I live there too.
||A well-brewed narrative, anyway.
||bp: it's a sanitary precaution: by smashing the cups, the vendees are making sure no one else drinks from them. It's kinda fun, too.
||[Cocka] the mongolian AIY pizza
joint lasted maybe a year. It was
on Piedmont Ave about two blocks
up from MacArthur.
||The same folks went on to start
the much loved Spettro on
Lakeshore Ave. (3355 to be exact)
and, as a kind of vestage/
memorial, they will make a pizza
with any combination you like.
||DadMan: your choice of sauce, too?
||if you take look at cocka's link it
seems there are some lovely
economics to be had. I pictured
this as a side business one could
engage in on the way to work or as
a subsidy to some other, less
lucrative career. Those numbers
don't promise a Jack Welch
lifestyle but as a sideline it might
have a place.
||Oh and DrCurry tell me there is a
Nurse Nan who goes with. please?
||[Cocka] sauce... It has been a while
but I seem to recall that if they had
it in the kitchen they were game.
||Back to Café Pedestrian... I
imagine a smaller scale could be
achieved by just concentrating on
going to where you know there will
be lines: ticket counters,
conventions, Department of Motor
||My dear baker friends... you should come to México and find out the huge variety of things sold in football stadiums in devices like the one described here. From beer to a pineapple liquor. Yummy!
||Yes, this exists, sort of, but not in
a cool cafe aesthetic. I've seen it
at the ballpark in San Francisco,
and it's just an insulated plastic
tub, with a cheap beer keg style
hose to dispense. Too bad. You
could design it to evoke similar
feelings as any of the many styles
of espresso machine to complete
the transformation from cafe to
cafe pedestrian. A friend of mine
did a pretty detailed design along
those lines, with a decent business
plan, and in the middle of it patent
searches that had been clear
turned up this ugly plastic version.
||I've been at reduced capacity with
sciatic pain for a few weeks so I
only now found your annotation...
It did strike me as a possibly cool
looking back pack. Either Victorian
or "rocketeer" or otherwise
interesting to look at.
||I wonder how much patent
protection you could get or need
for such a thing. Weird. we should
talk again. I am not 100% but
headed in the right direction.