Updated: Nov 5, 2019
(from Kenneth's perspective first. Pia´s persective down below)
Growing up I was very shy and timid. I hated new situations where I didn’t know how to act or what to do. Especially if there were people I didn’t know there. Even though I played football and had friends on the team, outside of football practices I mostly spent time with one or two people.
This shyness kept me from being part of everything that happened throughout junior high school. I never went to any parties or other social gatherings of my peers because I would always just end up alone in a corner looking at my watch waiting for an appropriate time to leave.
I was stuck in my head, overthinking everything.
“This conversation sounds interesting. I have an opinion about this, but I don’t know how to take part... now there is an opening, I can say it now.... no... too late. They started talking again. I can’t interrupt. What he said just now is not right... I should say something... but I don’t want to be rude... better just shut up....”
In every social situation, this was how my thought patterns were. It was exhausting to constantly feel out of place and like I didn’t belong in the group. Over time it developed into kind of a compulsive thing. It because part of my identity to be the shy, weird and awkward one.
I still don’t know why, but around the time I started junior high school, I started doing a few really strange things. I didn’t do it to get attention. It was more a way for me to stay focused. Then they became a habit that I struggled to get rid of. It’s gonna sound stupid but one of the things I did was to bang my head against my locker 10 times every time I took something out of it. If I didn’t do it I would obsess about it during class and not pay attention to the teacher.
Another thing was to make a fish/bubble sound with my mouth. I had to do that every hour at least. So in the middle of conversations, I would start making these noises. When I think back it is insanely stupid and I can’t explain it. But it somehow made me feel more in control of myself.
When I started high school I was struggling with my grades. The first year I felt so out of place and struggled to find a group of people I felt good being around.
This lead to me not doing well in group assignments and I felt like I was dragging everyone down which lead to me feeling worse about my existence and I started contemplating suicide. I even wrote goodbye letters to my family.
But my mom, even though she didn’t understand what was happening, she understood that I needed help. So she suggested a change of scenery might help. If I can get a fresh start somewhere with all new people and where everyone is in the same boat, that might help.
So she got me into a school in Spain. It was a Norwegian school so the curriculum was more or less the same, but all my classmates were new. Both to me and to each other. And for the first time, I felt part of a group of peers. I struggled in the beginning, but they were very inclusive and helped me start viewing the world a bit differently.
That year I had a lot of experiences that later would turn out to lead to big changes in my life.
It was where my real sense of adventure started. I had been to Spain before on holiday, but living there, and traveling around the country made me see the country more authentically. I got to know the local customs and culture, and I started dreaming about traveling the world.
A few years later, after another year in Spain, a few years at university and a bit braver, I decided to do a trip around the world. It was the biggest challenge I had faced at that time but I figured if I don’t do it now, it will never happen. So I set a timeline and started working around the clock to save money.
In October 2012 I put my ass in an airplane seat on my way to Beijing, China.
When the plane took off I regretted everything!
“What the hell have I done?” “I have to go back. This is crazy! I have no idea what the hell I am doing, where I am going or if I’ll even survive.”
When I landed in China and walked out of the airport it was a huge culture shock for me. Not one sign with letters I could read and not one person speaking a word of English.
“How the hell am I going to find my hotel?”
After freaking out for a few minutes I managed to find my way to the hotel, and I decided to just say yes to every opportunity I get. This decision was hard at first. I felt so uncomfortable with everything, but after a few days, I realized what I had missed out on my whole life. All my life up until this point I had said no to most things people had offered me because I was afraid, or shy. I just felt like I was in people way and didn’t want to impose on people.
But traveling in China, meeting people I can’t speak with, this barrier is not there. Both of us had no clue what the other was saying, and we both felt just as stupid. But we managed to communicate through body language and show and tell.
Having this experience over and over again made me realize how my world view had been so closed off. I learned so much and kept having these new and amazing experiences in every place I visited.
When I came home from 6 months of travel, I felt empty. It was like being put in prison after being as free as I had been.
I felt myself falling into depression again fast, so I decided to do it again.
This time I would travel by car. A friend that I had met in Central America came to visit me and work for 5 months and we started the trip together. But after a few weeks, she wanted to go a different route.
This time I was alone in a car traveling Europe. Not as unfamiliar as other continents, but still I had so much freedom. Every morning when I woke up I looked at my map, closed my eyes and pointed to where I would go that day. I met so many people and felt much more comfortable meeting new people and making friends.
This trip is now 5 years ago. Since then I have become a coffee roaster and part-owner of two coffee shops. It has been very exciting and I have learned so much! And my interest in coffee has gone from being stoked because I made a heart in cappuccino to geeking out about nerdy details in flavour and brewing to understanding the significance of coffee throughout the world.
I started working with coffee randomly because a customer at the hotel I was working at asked for an americano one day and our barista was not there. So I just tried to make one. He seemed to like it and the morning was pretty quiet, so I just played around with the machine. Then I went home to YouTube how to make a cappuccino and when I got to work the next day I was hooked.
To make a long story short, over the next few years I became a decent barista and when I got the chance to learn how to roast I couldn’t say no. This was in 2015 and since then my life has been almost 100% coffee. But in recent years I have felt the urge to get new, wild experiences again. I feel myself slipping into a depression. Every day it feels hard to motivate myself to go to work. Even though I work with something I love, I feel like I am losing my passion for it.
Now I don’t find the nerdiness of the coffee so interesting anymore. But I love what coffee represents. Coffee has an amazing history, and almost everywhere you go on the planet you find coffee. Almost every culture has some sort of relationship with coffee. That is my biggest takeaway from working in the coffee industry. How coffee connects people.
While traveling Europe in a car, I started dreaming about what it would be like to sail around the globe. You can go wherever you want!! I wanted to learn how to sail so I could do that one day.
But one day on my way home from work, I was driving my scooter. When I stopped at a red light, I heard someone yelling FIRE!! THERE IS A FIRE!!! I started looking around for it, and when I looked down, a black cloud of smoke came from between my legs. I jumped off the scooter, took 3 steps back and KABOOOM!!!! The whole damn thing exploded in a 3-4 meter tall fireball!
I used that scooter to get to work, so how was I going to do that now???
I hated driving it because it was so slow. So I decided, also kind of on a whim when I was early for work one day, to get my motorcycle license. That turned out to also be one of the best decisions I have made. I got hooked on driving MCs. The freedoms you have on a bike is like nothing else. You feel all the elements, have to use your body and can go places most cars can’t.
My dream of sailing around the world morphed into biking around the world.
Then I watched “The long way round”, the show where Charlie Boorman and Ewan McGregor drives their bike from London to New York. That was when I decided: “ I have to do this”
I fell in love with Africa when I was there and I wanted to see more of it. So I dreamt about driving to Cape Town. Then I saw Charlie and Ewan had also done that. It looked so amazing so I decided that is where I want to go too!
But I had no idea how to do it. I made a few plans and routes, but it kind of stagnated. I had so much work and I couldn´t focus.
Then one day I matched with this girl on an app called Happn.
We met for a beer and ended up sleeping on coffee bags in my roastery on our first date.
Turned out we had been through some similar experiences or at least felt similar feelings throughout our lives.
We connected instantly after a few months we were a couple.
She was on her way out of the Catholic Church. Something I found very interesting. I have never understood religion and wanted to try to understand how she was thinking. Her thought pattern and reasoning. I had always wondered about that but never really had someone on the “inside” to talk to.
Since she was kind of leaving the church, she was starting to view the world a bit different than she had before. And me being, at least I think I am, a pretty reasonable and logical person I loved asking her questions and debating her questions.
She seemed genuinely interested in learning. I told her about my view of the world and she told me about hers. I think this openness and honest curiosity is what attracted me to her at first.
After a few months together we started talking about dreams and what we want to do and where we want to go. I mentioned my dream of traveling around the world on a bike. She thought it sounded amazing.
A few months later we decided to go for it. We only have one life on this planet and we need to make the most of it.
We tried to think of how to do it and came up with a few suggestions. We can sell our apartments. We can work 20 hours a day to save money. Or we can start a YouTube channel maybe?!
None of us knows anything about making videos. So that seemed like a dumb idea. But that was the one we went for!
We decided to learn how to make YouTube videos. That would be the perfect way of documenting our trip for later, plus maybe we’ll have some experiences that would be fun to share.
“Now we need a name for the channel. What should that be?”
What do we want our channel to be about. Travel? Coffee? Motorcycles?
Why not all?
What are we doing on the channel? We are riding motorcycles, traveling and drinking coffee. We are riding the coffee bean around the world.
Ride the Bean!!! That´s it!!!
That was how we came up with the idea of Ride the Bean.
We are using the coffee bean as an excuse to meet new people, have new experiences and see new places.
Meeting Kenneth, listening as he told me about his travels around the world I realized I had been missing out all along. I didn’t travel in the same way he did - not to say I didn´t travel, but with family mostly. That means I didn't experience the same liberating feeling, gain the same level of independence and don’t have the same longing to go back that seems to haunt travelers. My field of vision seemed to explode and gave me a yearning to explore more of the world. We have a shot at making an adventure for ourselves, so let’s do it!
When Kenneth suggested we start a YouTube channel, I laughed. The thought was completely foreign to me, especially because I can be quite shy. I was definitely out of my comfort zone! The thought of making a fool of myself was pretty intimidating - until I realized that’s the stuff that makes people grow. So I set out to make a fool of myself, often. To laugh at myself instead of taking things so seriously. To try fifteen times, and see what would happen on the sixteenth attempt.
On top of being uncomfortable drawing attention to myself, I also had no knowledge of video making, and that meant there was stuff I needed to learn. What could be more annoying and inspiring? As a team, we acknowledge our weaknesses and aim to improve our game, together. Our inexperience shows, and we share it with you as an invitation to grow with us.
My first hurdle was not having a license. Longing for the independence of being able to go wherever, whenever I want. I tried to ride pillion on a motorcycle, and it was so amazing! Being a passenger while riding through picturesque forests, I realized the sense of wonder that fills me in nature can also be experienced on two wheels. I didn’t start taking my license before the age of 31, it seemed like such a big task. I never bothered to try, convinced it wouldn’t happen anyway. Kenneth believed in me though and helped me divide it into smaller goals. He even gave me time frames to stick to. “Okay, you have three weeks to study for the theory exam. I know you can do it. Figure out how.” I figured out how, studied, and did it.
For me, Ride the Bean represents a future that we make ourselves, for ourselves. The time we invest, the skills we teach ourselves, the dreams we make into reality. Constantly striving to push each other beyond our perceived borders in order to create a life for ourselves.
Our three great passions: the great outdoors, coffee and riding motorcycles are all included in our project.
Coffee and people originated in the same place around the Great Rift Valley in Ethiopia. We have been as one since the beginning. So now let us continue that tradition!