It is accepted truth that many software developers run on, among other beverages, coffee. Perhaps it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to find that Pedal Java, a new coffee venture in Knoxville, was started by Andrew Mrozkowski, a software developer with more than 25 years of experience writing ECMA-based languages. And with that many years of writing code in various office spaces, he has certainly encountered many cups of office coffee, which he says “is almost always terrible, undrinkable swill.”
His pursuit to have better coffee breaks at an office initially led to buying gadgets for making coffee, such as crank grinders and kettles, to sample all the locally roasted beans. Soon, he was making drinks for coworkers and friends.
“I just got better at making great coffee drinks in small spaces,” he says.
As the name correctly suggests, Pedal Java is a coffee shop on a bicycle, with an actual kitchen sink. Utilizing the mobility of the business, Pedal Java makes pour-over coffees and lattes available at events and gatherings that happen in areas that Mrozkowski calls “coffee dead zones.” Since launching his business last fall, Pedal Java has served its coffee near sporting events, musical performances and street fairs.
Mrozkowski’s love of coffee started at an early age. “My dear, departed mother loved coffee,” says Mrozkowski, who grew up in Asheville, North Carolina. At the age of 8, he would take sips from her coffee cup; by the time he was 12, he’d make a pot of coffee for both of them.
“When I left for college at UNC Greensboro, she gave me a four-cup mini Mr. Coffee and cackled with laughter when I told her I put cream in the pot before brewing and then used the same pot for drinking,” he recalls.
Mrozkowski, who is still freelancing as a developer, plans to build a Pedal Java franchise that would allow him to leave software development altogether. But he believes that in some ways, his programming experience is what taught him many lessons that helped bring him to entrepreneurship.
“Software taught me there is always more than one way to skin a cat, but solutions that are the simplest are almost always the best,” he says. “And I wanted Pedal Java to find those people and bring hot fresh coffee and espresso drinks right to their desks with a smile.”
And for Pedal Java, launching his street-level startup has been a success, partly because of what Knoxville offers. “For me, Knoxville represented a city poised between old, southern charm and energetic, entrepreneurial growth,” he says. “Knoxville embraces its historic roots in music, art, architecture and business.”
He adds that Knox County is also large enough to allow huge companies and manufacturing quick access to I-40 and I-75, making it a great job market with terrific housing values.
Mrozkowski also credits local businesses, including Adventure RV, Master Battery, the Golden Roast coffee roasters and Echelon Cycles, for helping guide him in the building of the physical Pedal Java equipment, as well as keeping the machine running. “Whether they helped me once or weekly, they are all appreciated, and I sing the local praises to anyone who wants to know.”
Photo Credit: Abigail Williamson