Retired professional road cyclist Russ Downing has launched his own brand of coffee, aimed at bike shops.
Downing, a former British road racing champion who retired in 2019, has teamed up with tech entrepreneur Tim Hammond to launch Cycle Expresso, a program that encourages bike shops to create their own pop-up in-store cafe .
The new brand comes from Pro Espresso, the distributor of Rocket Espresso machines in the UK, while Downing and Hammond plan to create a network of stores that cyclists can find while riding, using a Cycle Espresso mobile app .
Downing said: “Everyone knows I love a good cup of coffee, and with my cycling background, I’m really excited to be part of this exciting new venture to capitalize on the growth of cycling cafes.”
Hammond, owner of Pro Espresso, added: “As the existing UK distributor of the leading brand, Rocket Espresso, we plan to capitalize on its unique identity within the cycling community by inviting bike shops to have a pop- up Rocket in their store.
“Our mission is to bring more Rocket Espresso machines to cycle shops across the UK.”
Cycle Espresso partner stores will offer a commercial Rocket Espresso machine to serve customers and a demonstration of the Rocket machine for anyone who wants to try a Rocket machine at home.
Downing added: “This is a great opportunity for bike shops as it really puts them on the map to benefit from the cycle cafe boom. It can also bring them new revenue through sales of Rocket Espresso home machines, as it’s a brand we know riders love.
Cycle Espresso will soon be inviting stores to join the network and set up their pop-ups, with participating rides then able to join Downing on a ‘Rocket Ride’ social event, alongside other Cycle Espresso Ambassadors.
The brand will be open to existing cycle stores and cafes as well as new franchised retail stores and mobile outlets, as Cycle Espresso stated there is “significant potential growth in this sector through the advancement of cycling as the sport and pastime of choice for many and the love of better coffee.
Downing is a former Team GB and Team Sky driver during his 20-year racing career, while Hammond has been investing since founding his first internet start-up in 1996, eventually selling it for a profit of $18 million .
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Hammond founded Pro Expresso in 2018 to invest in the specialty coffee market in the UK.