Whether on their way to work or simply up for an early jog, residents of the Rehab compound and the Fifth Settlement area have recently developed a new habit; “bus tailing”. Café Up is Egypt’s first mobile coffee shop and has been roaming the upscale neighbourhoods for the past couple of months.
The moving bus offers all sorts of coffee and hot drinks with the premium quality of world-class franchises – however, at less than half the price.
“We are four friends, all graduates from law school, and we wanted to find an alternative source of income. Therefore, we got this bus in 2012 and started roaming around Cairo,” co-founder Mondy Mahmoud said.
Mahmoud, along with his friends, are university graduates who found themselves in need of a side project, one that required minimal resources and capital. According to Mahmoud, the idea came from Europe, where food trucks are an essential part of local street culture.
“We wanted to start a café and yet we could not afford the cost of a permanent venue or store. We also did not want to risk staying in one area that might not welcome our idea or not be profitable enough,” Mahmoud said.
The team applied for a bank loan and immediately started bringing the concept to Cairo. The bus is equipped with premium machinery that can bring any coffee aficionado to their knees.
“We aim to provide the best quality possible. Whoever tries our coffee once always comes back every day,” Mahmoud said. “We only moved to this spot three months ago; we used to park in front of the ‘Stella’ compound in the Fifth Settlement.”
The truck operates around the clock since the team currently takes shifts to maintain a consistent dose of caffeine to keep the Fifth Settlement and the Rehab compound going. “We are a team of founders and operators and we are all partners taking turns. We always assure the staff that they are part of the team, even in the financial aspects,” he said.
The team hopes to inspire their acquaintances who aim to found their own micro businesses in the current tough economy. “We wanted to set an example of proper minor projects powered by youth. We really hope that the country will help such initiatives in the future; even with just the car,” he said.
Although the bus has certainly exceeded all expectations by not only succeeding but also becoming a fixed daily ritual for an increasing number of residents, the project still suffers from minimal governmental support.
“We have all the required paperwork and permits and yet we still need help. For example, we have our own generators because the government does not even aid us with electricity,” Mahmoud said.