Mark Bystrom of Just Coffee gets ready for the day's deliveries.
Just Coffee, the East Wilson Street coffee roaster and distributor, gets everything right. The coffee is great. The cooperative philosophy is unassailable.
Best of all, their coffee is delivered in a giant red tricycle. "Sometimes you get double- and triple-takes," said Just Coffee's Mark Bystrom, 33, of how people react to the contraption.
Since he started working at the roaster last year, Bystrom's duties have been wide-ranging. (On his business card his title is Cultural Icon.) On Tuesday mornings they include piling the basket on the front of the tricycle with containers of coffee, then making his way down the isthmus bike path to his customers. He rides the tricycle rain or shine, 12 months per year.
His first stop on a recent Tuesday morning was JJR, the architecture firm in the Machinery Row building on Williamson Street. He parked the trike outside, then strode in, arms full of coffee. He wore aviator sunglasses, jeans, sandals, pink argyle socks, and a sleeveless green T-shirt that said "Shelby County 4-H."
He handed some paperwork to the receptionist, who regarded it quizzically. "I've decided not to do two copies anymore," he explained. "It's just a waste of paper."
The coffee he left in the break room. "This is what an architecture firm looks like," he said, gesturing at the tastefully appointed offices.
The Just Coffee tricycle is originally from Mexico. It is festooned with Just Coffee stickers. It has just three speeds, so on that humid morning, Bystrom was sweating from the exertion.
Not that he is an inexperienced cycler. In Chicago, where he lived before he came to Madison, he worked as a bicycle courier downtown. "Defensive aggression" is how he describes the biking philosophy of the Chicago bicycle courier.
Bystrom's next stop was the one of state's G.E.F. office buildings, where he delivered coffee to the Department of Natural Resources. He was disappointed that his contact there was not in his cubicle, which prominently featured a Chicago White Sox banner. Bystrom likes to talk Chicago sports with him.
Heading back to the tricycle, Bystrom fondly recalled the 2006 Chicago Bears. "It just goes to show what you can do with a great defense and a mediocre offense," he said of the team, which played in the Super Bowl earlier this year.
He staggered under the weight of two large containers -- totes, in the parlance -- as he entered the supermarket's chilly stockroom. He counted out bags of coffee as a Capital Centre employee looked on, then went to the store floor. On his way out of the stockroom, he passed elderly men who were wrapping slices of watermelon in clear plastic. They did not look up.
"This is our newest product, Las Diosas," he said as he stocked the shelves with coffee. "It's made by an all-women co-op in Nicaragua."
Bystrom's last stop was In the Company of Thieves, the east side coffee shop. On the Just Coffee tricycle, he got going pretty fast as he rolled down the bike lane of East Johnson Street. A construction worked stared as the tricycle rolled past. So did some college students. So did many drivers.
He parked in front of In the Company of Thieves, and brought in the coffee. He handed some paperwork to the barista.
"I've decided not to do two copies anymore," he explained. "It's just a waste of paper."