Off the beaten path

Newly opened Clean Bean Café ‘stands out’
Brian Morelli
Iowa City Press-Citizen

It’s a little off the beaten path, but sometimes you have to go out of your way to find something special, said the owner of a new espresso cart in Iowa City.

“What I really like about it is it is out of the way, and it stands out,” said Ben Hansen, owner of The Clean Bean Café. “When you break from a routine, you stand to benefit. You stand to discover something new.”

Hansen’s philosophy guides his business approach and the choice of beans he uses, he said.

The Clean Bean Café opened in Iowa City last week. The aromatic trailer is parked outside 30th Century Bicycles, 310 E. Prentiss St., and is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.


Press-Citizen / John Richard

Several years ago in Tucson, Ariz., Hansen met Daniel Fourwinds, the founder of Capulin Coffee. Hansen bought into the mission and started purchasing Capulin beans to roast and serve.

Capulin prides itself on being environmentally friendly and fulfilling the fair trade designation beyond industry standards. Capulin beans come from the Village of Tecuitata in Nayarit, Mexico. The coffee cherries are shade-grown, sun-dried and hand-sorted, and the farmers who harvest the beans are paid double what mainstream coffee producers pay, according to the Capulin Web site.

The coffee is sweet, with low acidity and low bitterness, Hansen said.

“This coffee is why I am doing what I am doing,” Hansen said. “Everything about this coffee is what I believe we are looking for when we drink a cup of coffee. It is heightening. It is stimulating. And, the crash doesn’t exist.”

Out of his small red trailer, Hansen sells espresso-based drinks, including straight up, Americano, latte and mocha. Hansen urges people to bring their own cups, and more to the point he charges 49 cents to provide a cup. Transactions are cash only, he said.

At the bike shop, the owners are glad to have some company.

“It brings a lot of life to the parking area. It makes it seem like a small ped mall,” owner Cody Gieselman said.