Early Friday morning, a group meets up in a downtown Edmonton park for a cup of coffee.
For the past six years, people from across the city have headed to Ezio Faraone Park to enjoy a peaceful morning before beginning their day.
Between 25 and 50 people, mainly travelling by bike, share stories and tales of the road with one another at the meetup dubbed “Coffee Outside.”
Co-founder Glenn Kubish said the group was formed when members of Edmonton’s cycling community began to connect over social media. Eventually, they decided it was time to meet in person.
“Winter, summer, spring, fall — we come here and catch up on each other’s lives and talk about what we’re seeing on the road,” he said. “When you ride your bike in the city as your primary mode of transportation, you look for each other. We decided we should join up in person.”
Kubish said the connections formed through “Coffee Outside” are unique.
“We aren’t neighbours. We don’t work together. We didn’t grow up together. But, we have connected over our love of the city,” Kubish said.
Nicola Dinicola has been with the group for two years. She said the group is an extremely meaningful part of her life and is helping her battle social isolation during COVID-19.
“It’s a complete connection to the cycling community and the broader community of Edmonton,” Dinicola, who travels from Forest Heights, said.
“It means pretty much everything to me right now.”
“These aren’t easy times that we are in,” Kubish said. “Coffee Outside has sort of morphed into a place where we can get away from that. We can just listen and share and talk to each other.
“Sharing stories is good for the heart.”
Over the years, the group has had many adventures. One of the co-founders, Darren Markland, has retrofitted his bike to serve as a coffee brewer.
“He’s put a propane stove on it somehow. There’s a water pump. He grinds his own coffee.
“If you’re here for that, he will serve up coffee for everyone.”
Coffee Outside runs from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. every Friday.