Last week we went visiting Upcycle Café, the first bike café founded in Milan. Upcycle is one of the rare bike cafés in Italy. Although Italy gave birth to many legendary bike manufacturers and many great champions, there are less bike cafés in Italy than in northern Europe countries. It’s a paradox, because cycling in Italy is a sport people is fond of. At Movimentore we love bike cafes, so we had to pay a visit!
There are different points of view on cycling, and any bike café has a soul of its own. Well, Upcycle isn’t just about cycling: it has a broader philosophy.
In fact, Upcycle was founded in 2013 by a group of friends unified by the passion for bikes, comprising some social innovation consultants. Its name derives from the verb “upcycling”, that means creative reuse or “the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless and/or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value” (wiki).
We’ve got in touch with Barbara, one of the founders. She claims Upcycle “is not a product, it’s a lifestyle. Cycling is the founders’ passion and a bike is the perfect subject to visually represent their lifestyles”.
In 2013 people seemed not to fully understand the project, but eventually it turned out to be very successful. Now many people identify with Upcycle’s credo and go there to find an interesting, welcoming place in Milan. “Customers often say it doesn’t feel like Milan here”, Barbara explains. That’s true, at Upcycle you don’t feel like in an ordinary café, where you’d have to order something. It’s a no pressure environment: free Wi-Fi, free self-service water, hand-made cakes and two big wooden tables where you can share experience and thoughts. We had some excellent beer, though!
“Our aim is to be contagious, make people ride bicycles and act in a sustainable way” says Barbara. As a consequence, customers are a mixture of university students and professors, coworkers, competitive cyclists, urban cyclists and many others.
Upcycle organizes an impressive series of events whose purpose is to promote the pedal culture (browse their site and facebook page); in the afternoon cycling races are projected live (for instance the Tour the France, from July 2nd). Upcycle has become a point of reference for many people into the sport, so partnered rides are often programmed.
In conclusion, do take a ride to Upcycle Café!