Rain, snow, or shine, Josh Crane delivers his signature roasts to Boulder, CO businesses and private customers alike, all under the power of his pedal-assist cargo delivery bike. And Crane has had plenty of weather extremes to parse recently, with snowfall blanketing the Calwood Fire—the largest in Colorado history—sparing Boulder, stopping the blaze in its tracks, and bringing on cold temps. Daytime highs continue to hover just above freezing, turning roads into a slushy, cruddy mess.
Crane looks forward to these crisp days. As the owner and operator of The Coffee Ride, Boulder’s roasted bean green-delivery service, Crane just adds layers. He puts on his mitts, zips up his jacket, and heads out, riding his electric, pedal-assist bike (he partners with Urban Arrow bikes), where daily deliveries can total 450 pounds. An average day of riding is 35 miles.
“With deliveries, we wear masks to protect ourselves and our customers from COVID-19,” he says. “We took a big hit when cafes closed, but we were set up for people to get coffee delivered at home, which is my favorite thing to do—and it’s what the business is based on.
“I ride to quiet my mind,” he adds.
Sourced from a Pacific Northwest importer, Crane roasts the beans in Boulder and delivers them once a week on Thursdays. “Our beans come from all over the world, but our supplier in Washington makes all direct trade, with an ethical working relationship,” he says. “This way, I know exactly where everything is coming from.” Flavors include Colombia Aspro Timaná, Guatemala Candelaria, Uganda Rwenzori, Ethiopia Yirgacheffe, and The Daily Grind. Twelve-ounce bags cost $16 on thecoffeeride.com (available nationwide), where there is also an option to donate coffee to the Boulder Emergency Family Assist Association (EFFA). Bag for bag, Crane matches all donations to the EFFA. “When coffee shows up in the food bank,” he says, “people are stoked. It’s a real treat.”
Before starting his company in 2013, Crane was a medical student at the University of Colorado, Boulder and worked as a laboratory assistant at Boulder Community Hospital. He also worked in a bike shop. Though he loved helping people, his heartstrings pulled him a new way. “I took the idea from my grandfather, who was a 1950s milkman,” he says. “I liked how he made and delivered products that made people happy.”
Assisting Crane with his deliveries are professional cyclocross racer Sunny Gilbert and cycling coach Isaiah Newkirk.
Crane says of his clientele: “It’s a good mix of people; we get the specialty coffee connoisseurs because our coffee is so good. We also get customers who believe in doing better business and being environmentally conscious. We also get people who like to bring the outdoor experience that comes from bicycle delivery to their office and home.”
As the orders pile up, so do Crane’s hours on the saddle. He’s logged 16,000 miles by bike since opening six years ago, which is more than most Americans drive annually.
Crane coupled the production and delivery concept with roasting his beans, which he started making for his friends at the bike shop. Each day he’d show up 10 minutes early and brew his home blend coffee for the crew. He liked watching everyone light up when they enjoyed his drink and how conversations continued as he refilled their cups.
“I fell in love with the roast process,” he says, “and seeing how happy I could make people by bringing them my roasted coffee.
“I went all in, man,” Crane adds. “I sold my Subaru, bought a coffee roaster, and built my career.”