The determination of three men, motivated for different reasons to build an extraordinary espresso
July 7th 2014
Steve Andrews had done it once before. Back in July 2009 he donned a motorcycle helmet and set off around Australia to raise awareness of the devastation caused by depression and suicide. Motivated by the tragic loss of a close friend and the ensuing reluctance by many to talk about both suicide and depression Steve decided to find a novel way to make a statement and get others to reach out to friends and family members who might be silent victims of the illness.
15,000 kilometres later he had raised over $34,000 for the cause and a maelstrom of media attention.
The Black Dog Ride had begun
The Long Lunch
Four years later almost to the day, Steve invited long-time friend Alex Kok to lunch so he could run past him an idea he felt Alex may be able to help him with. Alex the founder of Yahava KoffeeWorks was like Steve, a mad keen biker. Alex (known as The Koffee Baron) and Yahava KoffeeWorks had supported Black Dog Ride before, making coffees and supplying riders on a number of Black Dog One Day Rides.
Steve announced he was ready to repeat the 2009 epic Round Australia Black Dog Ride but this time with fifty other riders. This would be a big ride and it would get even more attention for his growing movement.
His request to Alex was, would Yahava provide coffee for the riders on this 15,000-kilometre ride?
While Alex was keen to help, the logistics of carting an espresso machine, with cups, coffee and milk on such a massive trip immediately seemed unrealistic. It would require a support vehicle, a barista and some way of setting up the espresso machine ahead of the riders so a hot coffee was waiting for them at each stop every day for four weeks.
A few coffees later came the ‘ah-ha moment’.
“What about an espresso motorbike with a sidecar that would turn heads and stay up with the pack?”
Alex left the luncheon excited with the prospect but who would build it, how much would it cost and what kind of resources would it take?
After a conversation with one of his KoffeeWorks partners Alex discovered there existed a Yahava customer of the Swan Valley Yahava KoffeeWorks who had built a number of sidecars for bikes. He was a frequent visitor and a big coffee drinker; this would be a good place to start. Not only would this chap know whether it was feasible but also what it might take, how much it might cost and who might be interested in undertaking such a project.
There’s no such thing as impossible
The discussion with Brian Ross became a meeting of minds.
Brian was instantly enamoured with the idea of an espresso sidecar. Two of his great loves, (coffee and sidecars) could combine, furthermore he was an ardent supporter of Black Dog Ride and had ridden a number of Black Dog Ride-One Dayers. In a rush of blood, he told Alex he would do it and the rest as they say is history.
Brian had built a number of sidecars and each was a custom work of art. This would be no different BUT this build would be riddled with challenges many of which would only come to light as the project progressed.
He had to design and build a waterproof, dustproof shell that could house and automatically lift into working position, a 55-kilo, fully operable, espresso machine. It would need a water tank and water filtration unit, a gas cylinder to heat the machine (in the places where there would be no power), battery power, a power inverter, bench areas to work from, a sink and a wastewater tank.
It also had to be robust enough to travel 15,000 kilometres in a gruelling four weeks from the near zero temperatures of the southern winter right up to the humid tropics of the far north. It needed to be capable of safely navigating the circumference of Australia and not just keep pace with the motorcycle peloton but also be able to ride quickly ahead to set up shop for the oncoming riders.
But first it would need a bike big and powerful enough to drive the sidecar.
Alex immediately went on a bike hunt, scouring papers, trawling the internet and talking to anyone he thought might help.
When he walked into Thunderbike Motorcycles in Perth he introduced himself to the owner Mario Poggioli and explained his plight. Mario was certain an Italian built Moto Guzzi would be perfect and even better he had one that he could make available for the project, ‘at a great price’.
When Brian saw the Bellagio he agreed this would be a great power plant for the sidecar, it had size, weight and the power necessary and an ideal frame for the sidecar marriage.
“Let’s call it the Yahava MotoKafe!”, said the Baron.
The build begins
The bike had to be partially disassembled so that the side car frame could be attached. The side car fully finished and loaded with espresso machine, gas and water tanks weighed 140 kilos so strength was the key. This 940cc bike was more than capable of powering the weight up to cruising speeds for the big ride.
Brian Ross is chief mechanic, master designer and engineering wizard on the MotoKafe project. Brian spent over 300 hours putting the ‘flying espresso’ machine together in his Forestdale workshop……and he wouldn’t take a cent for all that work!!! In fact, it would be fair to say this project would not have been possible without Brian’s hugely generous input and skills. You are a legend Brian.
There were nights in the cold Armadale workshop when Brian could gladly have thrown down the tools and walked away from the project. There were also some hot nights when the atmosphere between the build team was icy. But using all of their skills and experience, calling on favours of other craftsmen, the dream came to life piece by piece.
This was a monster project and it had to be completed, the rig tested in road trials and then certified by various authorities before being shipped across to Sydney for the start of the Black Dog Ride July 26.
On the 4th of July Brian delivered to Alex the Yahava MotoKafe, with instructions and ran him through a brief training session. If Alex felt somewhat overwhelmed by the ride ahead then Brian had some very comforting words. He announced he would be participating on the Black Dog Ride on his own bike and sidecar so he would be there as MotoKafe mechanic and back up barista. Amongst his many talents Brian holds a Barista certificate from the Yahava Koffee Academy.
This has been a labour of love by all concerned. Alex toiled the length of the project finding suppliers, sponsors, funders and he called on loyal suppliers including the Yahava KoffeeWorks partners. Everyone has embraced the Yahava MotoKafe dream not only because of the cause but all have been captured by the audaciousness of such a machine.
On Saturday the 26th July the MotoKafe and 60 riders headed off on The Black Dog Ride around Australia. Their goal to build awareness of depression and suicide.
“We knew together we could make this happen and we all really believed it. We are all coffee people and we love the adventure of it all,” said Alex. “I think this just shows what talent and creativity we have in this country. As Nelson Mandela once said, ‘It only seems impossible until it is done.”
The next part of the adventure was the ride that started July 26 in Sydney but that is another story. For those interested in big Circumnavigation ride and the exploits of the Yahava MotoKafe you can read all about these in other blogs on this site.
The Yahava MotoKafe Stats
The 2007 935cc, Italian built Moto Guzzi Bellagio was purchased from Thunderbikes in Perth.
It has a big bore 74bhp air-cooled V-twin motor that is connected to a direct drive shaft making the Yahava MotoKafe’s ride smooth and punchy. Equipped with beefy Brembo brakes and Marzocchi suspension it can adequately handle the additional weigh of the sidecar and make for very stable road performances. The bike itself weighs 224 kg and with the 19-litre fuel tank has close to a 300- kilometre riding range.
A special sub-frame has been built to attach the sidecar with unique front and rear ‘rose joints’. These pivoting joints allow the bike to lean into corners (a feature not found on most sidecars and a reason many bike riders shun sidecars). These rose joints also allow the bike’s front suspension to perform normally and does away with the need for a bulky and unsightly leading linkage unit.
The left side running exhaust system has been modified to exit on the right-hand side of the bike clearing the sidecar sub frame and externally mounted equipment.
The espresso machine
A British built, dual fuel (electric and LPG) 55kg, 2-group machine was chosen because of its compact, sturdy construction and its gas power option that enables the MotoKafe to be able to operate in remote locations without electricity. This unit needs to fire up quickly and be ready to serve coffee at each road stop but it also needs to be robust enough to withstand a month of continuous road cavitation and jolting. Above all it delivers a mean cup of coffee.
The espresso machine is lifted out of the sidecar well to its operating position on a 2000 newton gas strut, powered scissor lift. Hinged aluminium wings provide lift handles that become working surfaces either side of the espresso machine when it is ready to serve coffee. On the right hand side wing is a sink for cleaning and rinsing equipment that empties into an externally mounted 10 litre copper waste tank.
The nose cone houses water tanks, a gas bottle and other equipment such as a power invertor for the espresso. The Yahava MotoKafe in total holds 50 litres of filtered water with additional space for beans, cups and milk. The all aluminium sidecar is suspended on a fully adjustable swing arm cushioning the ride and protecting the equipment. With bike the entire unit weighs in at 374 kilos. Strapped to the side is a generous umbrella that mounts over the machine protecting espresso machine and barista from the harsh Australian elements.
Project leader and designer Brian Ross with assistance from Terry Mullan and Mick Young spent over 450 man-hours constructing the Yahava MotoKafe. The build was started in November 2013 and has took 7 months to complete. It is possibly the first ‘swing frame’ espresso sidecar in the world built specifically for the grueling 15,000 kilometre, 32 day round Australia Black Dog Ride. It is the first of its type in Australia to gain full approval from the Department of Energy and the Department of Health to operate Statewide.
The Yahava MotoKafe is a labour of love.
It was built to support Steve Andrews in his quest to raise awareness of the devastating effects of depression and suicide in our communities. Steve this is for you and your Black Dog Riders.
The Yahava MotoKafe has come about through the vision and energy of Alex Kok, adventurer and founder of Yahava KoffeeWorks, because he knew he could make this happen as probably no one else could.
Brian Ross is the design wizard and builder of the Yahava MotoKafe. Who would have believed that such a machine was possible? Brian’s skill, creativity and efforts have bordered on superhuman.
All the people and businesses involved have donated time, goods and money because they all believe in the spirit of adventure and have a genuine desire to help those in need.
At the end of the Black Dog Ride the Yahava MotoKafe started on another journey; it was serviced and began raising funds for charities throughout Western Australia.
Driver/operators: Alex Kok (The Koffee Baron), Jade Boo O‘Shea, Jeremy Jeans.
Designer: Brian Ross.
Construction: Brian Ross, Terry Mullan Mick Young.
Primary funding: Yahava KoffeeWorks, Pato Group.
Coffee: Ai roasters,Cofi-com, Pod Pak.
Cups: Bio Pak,
Cookies: Coffee Table Biscuits.
Graphics: Globe Sign Co, BrandNew.
Inspiration: Steve Andrews,The Yahava team, family and friends.
Beneficiary: The Black Dog Ride
If you would like to know more about Black Dog Ride go to: www.blackdogride.com.au