Ex-pro Russ Downing launches his own pop-up coffee brand targeted at bike shops 

Retired professional road cyclist Russ Downing has launched his own coffee brand, targeted at cycle stores. 

Downing, a former British road race champion who retired in 2019, has partnered with tech entrepreneur Tim Hammond to launch Cycle Expresso, a scheme that encourages bike shops to set-up their own pop-up café instore. 

The new brand stems from Pro Espresso, the distributor of Rocket Espresso machines in the UK, as Downing and Hammond plan to build a network of stores for cyclists to find while riding, with the help of a Cycle Espresso mobile app.

Downing said: “Everyone knows I like a good cup of coffee, and with my cycling background I’m really excited to be part of this exciting new venture to capitalise on the growth of cycle cafes.”

Hammond, owner of Pro Espresso, added: “As the existing UK distributor of leading brand, Rocket Espresso we plan to capitalise on its unique identity within the cycling community by inviting cycle stores to have a Rocket pop-up within their store.

“Our mission is to bring more Rocket Espresso machines into cycle stores across the UK.”

Stores partnering with Cycle Expresso will feature a commercial Rocket Espresso machine to serve customers, and a consumer Rocket machine demo for anyone who wants to try a Rocket machine at home. 

Downing added: “This is a great opportunity for cycle stores, as it really puts them on the map to benefit from the cycling café boom. It can also bring them new revenues from sales of Rocket Espresso machines for the home, as it’s a brand we know cyclists really 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 said there is “significant potential growth in this sector through the advance 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 rider during his 20-year racing career, while Hammond has been investing since setting up his first internet start-up in 1996, eventually selling it for $18million profit. 

Read more: Tell us your thoughts: Will you sell e-scooters through your business?  

Hammond founded Pro Expresso in 2018 to invest in the speciality coffee market in the UK.  

Alex Ballinger

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