The Rolling Café

    19. September 2014, 14:52

    Most of us are disturbingly obsessed with ourselves

    They are roaming across town with their small, rolling cafe, collecting money for charity.

    The thermometer has risen above the 30 degree mark and the sun is shining from a clear blue sky, making Oslo’s asphalt jungle an exhausting hotspot. In the centre of town, in a neighbourhood called Grønland, two young men pull a trolley between them. Its loaded with cold lemonade, coffee and melon. This rolling café is an idealistic project, with all profits going to charity. But the whole thing began with an idea to create a social meeting place in some of this town’s more quiet streets.

    "None of us grew up in Oslo, but we still love the city. It has several nice urban spaces and a number of charming streets. One of our aims was to add some hustle and bustle, in order to make Oslo an even better place to live," says 26 year old Lars Petter Berg. He is one of the driving forces behind the project.

    "This is in fact among the nicest things I have ever done. We get acquainted with many exciting people, some of whom we would never meet elsewhere," says Eilif Salemonsen. The 27 year old is busy arranging the cafe-trolley near the police headquarters in Grønland.

    Miriam Henriksen comes passing by, steaming hot, and lets herself be tempted to enjoy a cold homemade lemonade.

    "I myself have been in need of assistance for several periods of time, so I find this initiative very positive. And the cafe is so nice and cozy, so I’m happy to be able to contribute," she says before rushing off down the street.

    The project began with a bit of an effort last year. The cafe started rolling with a selfmade trolley and couple of old chairs. A few days before we met the boys, a crisis happened as the caretaker in their house of flats had been a bit too efficient, sending the entire cart to the garbage dump. So yesterday they spent all night nailing together a new one, while a new table and chairs were acquired via Facebook.

    "At least we can debunk the myth that the citizens of Oslo are cold and condescending. Of course some people get a bit sceptical when they beleive you are trying to sell them something. But when they realize that everything is being spent for charity, they mostly react positively. We have never been abused. The experience so far has been entirely positive," says Lars Petter Berg.

    The boys roll their cart all over town, from the fashionable neighbourhood Frogner to the working class, multicultural area Tøyen. But they say they haven’t noticed much of a difference in spite of the infamous east-west divide.

    "If people are in a hurry, they will pass you by whether its east or west. Generosity exists, no matter what," according to Eilif Salemonsen. So far this day, they have earned more than 1700 kroner, approximately 200 euros or 180 pounds.

    "The best we can hope to achieve is to make people pause for a while and take time for a small chat. We don’t have a clue to what will actually work. None of us are talented shopkeepers, but we enjoy alking to all kinds of people," says Berg, catching the attention of two ladies as he speaks.

    "They caught our interest when we heard that all profits go to charitable purposes. Its good to see that young people are active in helping others. So we are more than happy to support them, for who knows what the future brings," says Farah Khodadadi.

    The cold lemonade is a hit, whereas the coffee remains untouched on this warm and sunny day.

    "The experience from last time was that we need to offer sometning cold on warm days," says Berg with a smile. "Juice and melon are the winners."

    "Oh, yes. It tasted so good.This initiative is different, in a positive way. I don’t like street vendors, but this is great. How wonderful that someone will bother to spend their time helping others. Most of us are disturbingly obsessed with ouselves," says Madsen.

    Berg and Salemonsen say nobody forces them to spend time on the project. "It allows us to spend time with friends and meet people. Its engaging, exciting and funny. A sacrifice? Not at all." (May Synnøve Rogne, AftenPosten, Norway)

    Rolling cafe:
    Young idealists roam the streets of Oslo with a mobile cafeteria.
    You pay any price you like for a cup of coffe, tea or a glass of juice.
    The profit goes to charity. Customers vote for which charitable purpose will receive support.

    Follow them on

    • Eilif Salemonsen and Lars Petter Berg are happy to spend some of their leisure on the mobile cafeteria.
      foto: aftenposten

      Eilif Salemonsen and Lars Petter Berg are happy to spend some of their leisure on the mobile cafeteria.

    Share if you care.