Double-Decker Coffee Bus to Become a Reality

By Jeremy Martin
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE

Coffee people have in common an interest in discovering and experiencing new cafés, and yet still, most of us have a single favorite spot that we go back to time and time again, a place we enjoy hanging out, sipping coffee, doing homework, or perhaps just sitting back and people watching.

Do you remember how you found that perfect spot? The hunt often involves forays into new neighborhoods, word-of-mouth references, and research on Twitter and Facebook. But what if all that legwork could be eliminated by the shop itself coming to you?

Of course, food trucks and coffee carts are a staple of just about every city, but those are best utilized when you’re on the go and have little time to relax. If only the coolness of the food truck craze could be mixed with the timelessness of a brick-and-mortar coffee shop ¦ Oh, and would it be too much of a stretch to throw a bit of British Mod into the mix?

According to the husband-and-wife team heading up Junction Coffee in Oklahoma City,  that vision is closer to becoming a reality than ever.

Nick and Lori Bollinger, fans of both the convenience of food trucks and the atmosphere of neighborhood cafés, wondered why the two couldn’t be put together. Eventually, these musings led the pair to what they considered a perfectly logical solution: purchase a double decker bus from England and turn it into a mobile café.

What was once the 43 line to Andover in the U.K. will soon be reborn as a whole new take on coffee, or at least a new way to bring the coffee to you. Oklahoma City's Junction Coffee has plans to convert this British Double Decker into a mobile coffee shop.
What was once the 43 line to Andover in the U.K. will soon be reborn as a whole new take on coffee, or at least a new way to bring the coffee to you. Oklahoma City’s Junction Coffee has plans to convert this British Double Decker into a mobile coffee shop.

œWe knew we wanted to start a coffee shop ”a community-focused coffee shop,  says Nick. œWe got the idea about a year ago, and started looking at properties and locations. In Oklahoma City, as in with a lot of other cities, the food truck industry has really taken off. We had this idea that we could actually have people come inside the food truck. 

Shortly after that revelation, the Bollingers saw a double decker bus parked outside a repair shop, and just like that ”they knew what they had to do.

œWe went in to inquire about that bus but it was spoken for,  says Lori. œThe mechanic there, turns out he is, like, the premier double decker bus mechanic in the nation. We told him what we were looking for and he gave us a contact in the UK who owns a company that imports them. 

After some internet research and talk with their contact in England, a bus was purchased. But that’s when the real hurdles began, starting with getting the beast Stateside and learning how to drive it.

As it turns out, you can’t simply plop a bus on a boat and pick it up on the opposite side of the Atlantic. There are reams and reams of red tape that international customs agents are more than happy to roll out. And then there’s the little issue about gaining a license to drive a bus designed to be operated on the left side of the road.

œWe’ll need a written test and a skills test, and in Oklahoma, we’re required to provide a vehicle for the skills test that will be comparable to the one we’re driving, but we obviously won’t have the double decker bus yet, so we’re still trying to figure out how to solve that problem,  says Nick.

Rows of drab green vinyl seating will soon make way for booths, tables, and a traditional coffee bar inside this double decker bus.
Rows of drab green vinyl seating will soon make way for booths, tables, and a traditional coffee bar inside this double decker bus.
The Bollingers' plans for the cafe bus's interior.
The Bollingers’ plans for the cafe bus’s interior.

Nonetheless, the plan is to fly to South Carolina, pick up the bus, and learn to drive it on the 1,000+ mile journey home. After that, the couple will get to work converting the double decker into a fully functional and inviting place to sit and sip coffee.

Junction Coffee will feature locally roasted coffee from local independent roasters who are not only providing high quality products, but are also trying to make a difference in the city and beyond.

œThere is a roaster in Norman, and part of their proceeds go to building water wells in coffee farming communities,  says Nick. œWe want to partner with them and buy from them, support their efforts. There is another roaster that owns their own coffee farm. They do health care centers and schools, and we’d like to partner with them, as well. 

Just don’t expect to get any free rides with your cup.

œWe do not plan on moving while people are trying to drink hot beverages,  says Lori. œI don’t think that would go over very well. 

But people can expect to find the bus in predetermined locations throughout the week, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find a great cup of coffee.

œWe want to create as much rhythm and consistency as possible, and hope to generate a regular customer base like a brick-and-mortar shop would have,  says Nick. œWe want to be within the same areas at the same days and times each week. 

Nick and Lori just completed a successful Kickstarter campaign for Junction Coffee, meeting their $30,000 goal, and actually exceeding it by almost $900. You can follow their process as they make the Junction Coffee Project into a rolling reality by staying tuned to their website: http://www.junctioncoffeeokc.com

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeremy Martin

Jeremy  Martin  is a freelance writer and photographer who has reported on coffee, craft beer, college sports, and business for a variety of publications over the past six years.  A veteran of the café industry and graduate of Western Michigan University, Jeremy lives in Seattle where can often be found making sandwiches from whatever is left in the fridge and cracking wise for the amusement of his adoring wife Amanda.

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