Mobile cafes are a recent phenomenon that has been getting its legs within the last couple of years. In September 2014, Fresh Cup magazine published Reagan Crisp’s article on mobile cafes titled “A Moveable Feast: Driving and Riding the Mobile Wave”.
One mobile cafe that is highlighted is the coffee truck of Oklahoma City’s Mariposa Coffee Roasters. Their truck started with an instance of serving volunteer firefighters in a rough patch. From that point on, Crisp writes, “[t]hey realized then that if they had a coffee truck they could serve the community whenever, wherever…The truck is their lifeline to the community”. Mobility lets Mariposa Coffee Roasters reach their community.
Amyie Kao, cofounder of Mariposa, offered her thoughts on their purpose: “Coffee is much more than a beverage…It has the power to shape the atmosphere of a gathering, the experience of a story, and transform a setting”. Mariposa can take this power that coffee exudes and explore other avenues than settling down with one shop.
Kao could have easily been describing music, something that has entertained mobility in various guises. The internet might top this list but we will stick to physical mobility. Most obvious, musicians travel from gig to gig, whether on tour or a weekend hustle. This is a bit distanced from the mobile cafe idea. Maybe its more akin to taking ones roasted espresso beans to various coffee shops and hoping to sell them to use in their lattes. It isn’t roasting and making espresso drinks on one’s own with a bike or truck.
One of the closest examples to the mobile cafe were the mobile sound systems in Jamaica during the advent of Reggae and Dub in the late fifties and sixties. With a person operating the system and a deejay supplying banter, mobility allowed sound systems to amplify excitement at parties and get togethers all over the island.
What is unique about this mobile model is that it lets people continually redefine where and what their community is. Could there be a kind of mobile music hub in the vein of the mobile cafe and sound system? A bus or something that acts as a performance and get together space for musicians and aficionados? Does it even have to be something physical?
Maybe mobility could also be a mode of thought. A mobile cafe can keep returning to the same spot, developing a following there, and expand to another place and do the same thing there. Rinse and repeat. In that sense, we could not only work on our immediate community but reach out bit by bit but with the intention of developing lasting relationships.
Repeating Kao’s statement within another lens, music is much more than sound. “It has the power to shape the atmosphere of a gathering, the experience, of a story, and transform a setting”. Why not take this power wherever we can?