An orange trailer popped up a couple months ago near the railroad tracks on Illinois 159 coming into Belleville.
The trailer houses Bump N' Grind coffee shop, the creation of Josh Desfalvey, and four partners, all with connections to Scott Air Force Base. Three are active duty; two are former military.
"We were discussing some ideas that we wanted to go into business," said Josh, 33, a U.S. Air Force captain and pilot, who lives in Soulard. "We had a guy who's really big on coffee. We did some research. We thought it would be good to go for a barista-setting, pin-up style."
"Then, we thought, 'Why don't we go mobile?'"
Their $13,000 trailer, which looks like a cute little caboose, was custom made in Georgia and shipped to the metro-east. The Bump N' Grind logo, a blonde in uniform, is a throwback to airplane nose art from World War II. Inside the trailer is a top-of-the-line Gloria Astoria espresso machine from Italy. Espresso shots are $1.75 for a double; $2.25 for a quadruple.
"We use all filtered water and fresh roasted beans from Chauvin Coffee in St. Louis," said Josh. "Chauvin has been around since 1930. Vernon Earls, who's known as the coffee guy, teaches classes. He comes over and trains the girls."
The beans are ground for each order.
"We want to make sure we are serving the best cup of coffee," he said. "It's high-end coffee coming out of a trailer."
Barista Hannah Neumeyer said the most popular is the Americano, ($2.25, 16-ounce; $2.50, 20-ounce), or a latte (made with espresso and steamed milk), $3.60, 16-ounce; $3.95, 20-ounce.
Besides coffee, Bump N' Grind serves hot chocolate, $2.75; tea, $2; chai tea latte, $3.95; "a really good organic oatmeal," $3; and chocolate-covered espresso beans, $3.
"Take them back to work, munch a couple and get a pick up," Josh said.
Specialty syrups, some made by Ghirardelli, include caramel, vanilla, hazelnut and raspberry. Look for iced coffee in warm weather.
Customers include regulars and the curious.
"We have some who come every day, sometimes twice a day," said Hannah. "We have a lot who say, 'What is this place?' 'What do you sell here?'"
She tells them, "Give us a chance. We are very surprising."
Hannah wore a Cardinals jersey Monday afternoon.
"We're doing our Cardinals theme," she said. " We wear shorts, shirts and platform heels. Next week, it will be a different pin-up outfit."
Lauren Rhein, 26, a bartender at Sullivan's, crossed the parking lot for a cold espresso drink.
"I want you to make me one of those iced coffees you made me the other day," she said, referring to a caramel macchiato. "It was yummy deliciousness."
"Do you want the 16 or 20 ounce?" asked Hannah.
"Let's do 20. That went down too good."
A little whipped cream on top?
Originally, the trailer was set up outside Scott Air Force Base.
"Sully (co-owner of Sullivan's bar) works on base," said Josh. "He came by and tried the coffee. He said, 'Why don't you set up where we are? There's constant traffic over there.'"
The trailer, which has a porch on back, is designed for walk-up or drive-through customers. A table and chairs outside are convenient for those who want to linger.
"Originally, we wanted to buy three trailers," said Josh. "Someone was smart enough to say, 'We are going to run into all kinds of obstacles. Let's get one and see how it goes.'"
The little orange trailer eventually may hit the road, and show up outside Cardinal baseball games or Rams football games.
"It's been fun and excited, but a lot of work," Josh said of the business. "That's expected. I wanted to franchise these. If someone is interested, I have a binder. Here's your trailer and away we go."
If you go:
Where: 907 N. Illinois St. (at Sullivan's Bar parking)
Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays
Specials: On Mondays, military, police and firefighters in uniform or with an ID get 50 percent off. There's also a train special: $1 off menu items for 15 minutes after a train stops traffic.
Information: (719) 440-8362 or check out their Facebook page