MOBILE COFFEE. Ruggierro Nicolae Rubio (left) prepares his coffee concoctions from his own mobile stand at the Rodelsa Rotunda in Cagayan de Oro City. The concept of putting up a mobile coffee shop started when Rubio lost his job as a barista at a local hotel. (PNA photo by Nef Luczon)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Like many other workers who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, Ruggierro Nicolae Rubio had to be let go by the hotel where he had been a barista for six years.

As a barista who has long been harboring a dream to own a mini-bar or a coffee shop, the pandemic came as an opportunity to finally turn his plans into reality.

At the height of movement restrictions in March last year, the 29-year-old Rubio began preparing a mobile version of his planned beverage venture, in-between taking odd jobs for 10 months.

As more people flocked online, Rubio turned to online barista communities for help.

"I asked other people (who already engaged in the mobile coffee business) from different places online; I had to be confident in asking them tips, and they were kind enough to share some pointers," he said.

After receiving a cash aid worth PHP5,000 from the Department of Labor and Employment intended for those who lost their jobs, Rubio slowly invested in materials necessary to build his mobile coffee shop project.

With the help of his family, he managed to purchase a surplus bike for PHP4,000 and got another one from an online barter community.

After months of building his mobile coffee shop, Rubio rolled right into his dream and onto the streets in February this year.

With the word-of-mouth from friends and with the help of social media, Rubio promotes the 10 spots where he regularly serves fresh coffee.

"My siblings and my cousins are helping me out with the operations. My siblings were working online as freelancers at night so they have time to help me in the daytime," he said.

Working as a barista in a bar or hotel as an employee, he would earn more than PHP10,000 monthly excluding other bonuses and tips, that is why he admitted that the income in his bike coffee shop was a challenge at first, but over time, people get to notice his presence, and after two weeks he would average more than PHP1,000 a day.

Rubio currently plies his regular routes at least four times a week, with Rodelsa Rotunda as one of his usual spots on afternoon weekends.

Recently, he said he is in negotiations with a stall owner downtown so that his coffee business can find a permanent home.

But Rubio said whether his coffee is sold on a mobile stand or on a cozier place, his motivation for the job remains the same – his family.

"Unlike my siblings who work online, this has been my skills (bartending), and I want to fully maximize this," he said. (PNA)