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The Double Decker Espresso Bus (1989) Leland Olymian

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Crazy is the word that I kept hearing myself say. My husband of twenty years has always loved coffee. He had perfected his own roasting process using a hot air popcorn popper. He began dreaming about roasting on a larger scale in 2018 and knew he would need an actual roaster.

That search is what began our family’s journey towards the purchase and renovation of a dou-ble-decker bus!  The ever-amazing internet provided a picture of a converted double-decker bus with all the essentials a coffee shop would need. “How awesome would that be?” said my visionary husband Dustin. I assumed this was a passing thought, of course it was cool, but what normal person actually pursues something like that?

Well, we do. We are the Mori family. Our family is comprised of two adults, who really do love each other, our Lord Jesus Christ, and our six vibrant home educated children ranging in ages from six to seventeen. We are native-born Idahoans and think we might live in the best state ever. It was our love of family, and a desire to operate a family ran business that propelled us forward in this crazy adventure of ours.

Preparing the kiddos for the family business. Pictured with our son Tobiah.

As soon as I got over the shock of such an unusual business plan, I rolled up my sleeves to see what our options were. The original internet sighting was located in Seattle and had already been fully converted but the price tag did not fit our wallets. 

Soon after I found a guy named Jerry who works with Bus Conversion Magazine who had a seated double-decker bus for sale and found what we needed. We voted as a family and hit the go button in August of 2018.

The arrangements were relatively simple, our 1989 Leyland – Olympian double-decker would drive onto the ship in South Hampton England, and would dock in Baltimore, Maryland. It was roughly a 12-day voyage. Jerry drove the bus from Baltimore to Utah (a long five-day process) where we picked it up. 

Come get some espresso!
Dustin and I picking up the bus in Utah.
Our first fill up.
Parked at one of our many business stops.

The bus underwent a thorough inspection before leaving England. We knew the mechanics were as sound as an old bus could be with untold hundreds of thousands of miles. With the top speed around 50 mph, we had a lengthy drive to Idaho.

Did I mention the bus is 14.6 feet tall? The first underpass we had to go under, took a couple of years off my life! As long as we stick to the interstate we are good.  We always get lots of fun glances from passersby. It’s when we are in town with big trees, short bridges, and underpasses that we have to be really careful.

We arrived home safe and sound in September with the bus, after a fresh coat of British Bus Red paint to help us stand out. We didn’t have a tight timeline of how the conversion process would go (thought my husband…). We knew we wanted to do most of it ourselves but we had two other businesses we were running, making time a shrinking commodity.  

We started with what we could, the tear-down. Our kids found several British coins that had fallen into unknown cracks and crevices. This actually encouraged them to work harder!

Upstairs before the seats came out.
Upstairs after all of the seats were removed.
Taking seats out and finding treasures.
Dustin and our oldest son (Noah) installing downstairs flooring.
Plumbing is in.

The seats were mounted directly to the walls, leaving only two legs on the other side. We had a great repurpose plan for the seats we took out. The bus was dirty and it needed a good cleaning.

After the tear down and cleaning were complete we could dream and plan a little. We consulted with a barista friend and started with a layout plan. We found a gem of a company in Nampa, Idaho called Food Concepts of Idaho that helped with the electrical and plumbing. 

They also built a wall in the back, giving us a place to store a 60-gallon fresh water tank, and a 25-gallon grey water tank. We installed a 4-gallon Bosch hot water tank and a Pentair Shurflo water pump. The electrical was set-up to run on a generator or shore power. We needed a lot of amps for our deluxe espresso machine!

The service window allows us to serve people from the outside of the bus.

The seats were mounted directly to the walls, leaving only two legs on the other side. We had a great repurpose plan for the seats we took out. The bus was dirty and it needed a good cleaning.

After the tear down and cleaning were complete we could dream and plan a little. We consulted with a barista friend and started with a layout plan. We found a gem of a company in Nampa, Idaho called Food Concepts of Idaho that helped with the electrical and plumbing. 

They also built a wall in the back, giving us a place to store a 60-gallon fresh water tank, and a 25-gallon grey water tank. We installed a 4-gallon Bosch hot water tank and a Pentair Shurflo water pump. The electrical was set-up to run on a generator or shore power. We needed a lot of amps for our deluxe espresso machine!

Upstairs seating, feeling festive.
Dustin built our tables and roasts the beans… handy guy!
People love the countertop views.
Pull-up a seat and check out these views.
Thankful for handrails that go all the away up the stairs!
View of the upper deck, full of guest seating.
A nice bench seat at the rear of the bus.
A closer view of the upholstery work and the bench seats.

I had such a beautiful picture in my mind of the bus with lights, snowfall and hot drinks! We had to try and capture what we could. Dustin quickly built the counters, bringing the kitchen area to life instantly.

Back in October, we had a friend ask us if we needed a two-door under counter type refrigera-tor. He had gotten if for free when a large coffee chain was remodeling and no longer needed it. How perfect! We felt God was helping us along on this ride.  Tables and a counter bar top fol-lowed to go upstairs. Things were really shaping up.

Our local town was having a holiday parade on the first of December. That would be our debut night. The outside wrap (the logo and cream line around the bus) was installed the night before the parade. We weren’t 100% finished with the kitchen area, but close enough to be in the parade and sell hot chocolate afterward. 

Our town’s Christmas Parade in 2018, first outing in public. So Fun!

Along with smiles and waves, our bus has had quite a few pictures taken. When we were rolling in our first public outing, the Christmas parade in a small town, a boy around the age of twelve yelled, “what are we…in England!” His face and his response were priceless. The reaction when the crowds saw us move down the route was priceless!

We finished everything and opened on December 26, 2018. Our community has been very supportive and our family life has never been better.

The most common question we get is “where did the bus come from?” People are pretty surprised that we actually shipped it over from England. The most common response is “wow, I bet that cost a lot!” We jokingly tell them we traded it 

for our first-born son (we actually really like him and that would be the bad end of that deal). We thought the shipping was reasonable considering the cargo.

It has been a real treat to get to know our community better. If you are feeling stagnant in your social life, get a bus! Friends are easy to make with a big red bus with good coffee. We serve teachers at school, medical staff in assisted living facilities, kids at corn mazes, the average neigh-borhood, schools, bazaars and so much more. We love when businesses want to treat their hard-working employees to a special drink or be a part of a huge winter festival.

Our kids rotate through who is on the bus with dad and/or mom. We have several very skilled baristas in the family now. We cover several cities in our area with weekly public stops, business locations, and private events.

Grinding, and pulling a shot of our fresh roasted espresso.
This machine sure does pull the amps!

What a joy it has been to bring so many smiles to so many. The crazy idea Dustin planted in our family has blossomed into a profitable, flexible, family business. Who gets to have this much fun?

A weekly schedule of where we are is posted to our Instagram and Facebook page. Bus number two just arrived last month which we will be using for an Airbnb to generate some extra income.  

You will have to follow us in order to catch the bus or read the article in an upcoming issue of Bus Conversion Magazine!

Come have a cup with us if you pass through Idaho!

Editor’s Note: If you are interested in converting a double-decker bus into a coffee shop, restaurant, Airbnb, or a bus conversion to travel in, we have several listed for sale on our Classified Ad page, including a bus already converted into a beautiful restaurant.

https://www.busconversionmagazine.com/bcmclassifieds/

By Angie Mori

Angie Mori is never afraid to add one more thing to her ever-growing resume.  She is a homegrown Idaho girl.  She is the wife to a fearless, YouTube, Doctorate, hunk of a husband. She is also a home educator to six spunky kids, family business administrator, wedding food caterer, and general family visionary and go getter. 

Angie does not travel full-time in a vehicle but does own and drive two double-decker busses and one travel trailer. It seems likely, one day you will find her on the road. Make sure to honk and wave when you do.

You can follow the Double-Decker Espresso Bus on Facebook and Instagram:  

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