Jamie Bestwick’s wheels are always spinning. Whether on a BMX bike riding on a ramp at Camp Woodward, cruising down Route 45 on a mountain bike headed into the woods or simply standing at ease behind the counter of his new Rothrock Coffee shop, the action sports legend has his inner eye on his next big thing.
“It’s all about evolving, moving on,” said Bestwick, his Cockney accent rounding the “Os” and dropping the “Gs.” “This shop has been a dream of mine for the past 17 years. I have traveled all over the world and found a real appreciation for coffee. It’s been a fun journey that has led me here.”
Bestwick is best known as the dominant Vert rider in the BMX Freestyle world, a world with a mecca right here in Centre County at Camp Woodward. His gravity-defying feats are legendary. One that he is especially proud of is the 2014 Laureus World Sports Award for Action Sportsperson of the Year, which was awarded in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
“They had great coffee there,” he reminisces, “different flavors, very complex. Coffee is so much more than just the liquid in the cup. It is about origin, where the beans come from, how they are harvested — whether the farmers are getting a fair share. The roasting takes the beans to the next level, brings out their flavor profiles, tames the bitter compounds. Grinding the beans is important for full extraction. Our ‘pour over’ coffee is a finer grind than the coffee that gets brewed for the air pots that is, essentially, a drip method.”
And then there is the latte art, an art so ephemeral that it is usually only appreciated by one person besides the barista, and then only until the first sip disturbs the surface design.
“We have the finest baristas in town,” said Bestwick, who himself can craft a handsome design with milk foam. “They are here to have fun and to make sure that our customers are happy. That’s the most important thing.”
Bestwick was born in Riddings, England, in 1971 and received his first bike at the age of 10 from his father. It was love at first sight and put him in gear for a career that would sync with the rising world interest in action sports.
“I worked in the aerospace industry back in England, as a mechanic repairing engines for airplanes, but decided to just go pro in 1996 after competing in the X Games,” he said.
Once he made the leap to full-time rider, he started a trajectory studded with gold medals.
In 1999, he moved to central Pennsylvania, and he recalls his first drive to Camp Woodward, “I knew the first time I drove down Route 45 that this is where I wanted to live. The countryside is stunning. What a place for a cyclist, all these rolling hills and woods.”
Bestwick isn’t the only athlete in the family. His wife, Kerry, co-owns PYP, the yoga studio next door to Rothrock Cafe. PYP stands for “Power Your Possibilities,” but could also relate to Kerry’s highly-rated 2007 DVD, Pure Yoga Pilates. The DVD, which includes 40 minutes each of hatha yoga and pilates, was directed by Kerry and filmed outdoors above Penns View in Coburn. The power couple has a 10-year-old son, Samuel, who has been riding a bike since he was 16 months old.
“He wants to be an archeologist,” said Jamie, “and is convinced that we have Viking artifacts in our yard in Port Matilda. Like any 10-year-old, he’s got a great imagination. He is very outdoorsy, and enjoys long bike rides in the woods.”
Rothrock Coffee opened in January and has a devoted clientele who appreciate the no-nonsense, minimalist feel of the rugged surfaces. The 42-foot-long bench was made with reclaimed wood from a local church and has been refinished and stained with — what else — coffee. The cream colored walls are bare for now, but the shelves are filled with branded merchandise sporting a gear logo that connects Jamie with his cycling roots. There are baked goods from Gemelli Bakers and from Dante’s Inc. and sandwiches and smoothies available on a limited menu.
“We just have to see what our customers want,” said Jamie, moving cautiously for a change.
At 44, is Jamie switching gears, ready to give up his Vert title to a younger rider? Not likely. He still works out daily, when he is not roasting beans, making lattes or planning activities for his community charity, The Bestwick Foundation, which raises money for local families in need. There’s no rocking chair at Rothrock Coffee.
“I don’t see this as the end,” said Bestwick, “but rather as the beginning. I’ve had this dream and now it is a reality. I’ll do whatever it takes to make it run smoothly, and I’m here every day at some point to make sure that happens. I’ll wash the windows, mop the floor, be the gopher.”
If his previous accomplishments are any indication, he may be on a roll to bring a new concept to the U.S. — cycle cafes, which would help with the tight parking situation at this busy plaza. What might be brewing is a conga line of cycle cafes on his favorite bike routes throughout Pennsylvania and beyond. Way beyond.
Anne Quinn Corr is the author of “Seasons of Central Pennsylvania, “ of several iBook cookbooks (”Food, Glorious Food!” “What’s Cooking?!” and “Igloo: Recipes to Cure the Winter Blues”) that are available for free on iTunes. She regularly posts to the blog HowToEatAndDrink.com and can be reached at chef email@example.com.
Where: 1736 S. Atherton St.
Hours: Open 7 a.m.-6 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on weekends
On the web
Watch video from Rothrock Coffee at www.centredaily.com