Joe-Fueled Jitter Bus Rolls Into Town

Carissa Duhamel PhotoA new bus company pulled up in downtown New Haven offering caffeine rushes, not rides.

The vehicle is called the “Jitter Bus.” Three local men spent a year outfitting the bus to serve as a mobile café.

Founders Dan Barletta, Paul Crosby and Andrew Mesiouris plan to park the bus at locations throughout the city.

They parked it on Chapel Street this past Friday night to hold a launch party in conjunction with the Happiness Lab at the Grove.

The Jitter Bus brews coffee from three different Connecticut-based roasters: Sacuzo Coffee, Give Coffee and, of course, A Happy Life, the brand made at the Happiness Lab — and the only brand for sale at the launch party.  The event featured live music from five local bands, including Forest Room, Danny Henry, Ed Peccerillo, Kindred Queer and Heavy Breath.

Katie Johnstone PhotoThe event was BYOB, meaning guests were able to bring their own alcohol with them to drink throughout the night.

Carissa Duhamel PhotoThe Jitter Bus founders began their work in February 2015 after purchasing a short school bus with the money raised through a Kickstarter campaign. The three were able to raise $5,260 with the help of 43 backers on the crowdfunding website.

Crosby, a 24-year-old West Haven native, got the idea for a coffee shop on wheels in August 2014 after watching an ice cream truck drive by. After the idea had taken root in his mind, he approached longtime friends and fellow baristas Barletta, 25, and Mesiouris, 28. Together, the three decided to turn Crosby’s idea into a reality.

“The Jitter Bus was just a school bus that we stripped down and built up to a full service café by hand,” said Crosby. “Nothing about this was easy and couldn’t have been more stressful at times, but the support from our friends, family, roasters and anyone else helping along the way make this all worth it.”

Barletta, Crosby and Mesiouris gutted the bus, built counter tops, and installed plumbing and electricity —  “all things none of us knew how to do, so we kind of just researched it on our own and learned as we went along,” Barletta said. “Originally we thought we were going to hire people to do the work, but we just used Google and learned on our own.”

Carissa Duhamel PhotoThe Jitter Bus strives to use strictly organic, above-fair trade coffee. Barletta explained that with above fair trade coffee, the farmers who grow the coffee get more of the profits. In this way, the Jitter Bus’s mission lines up with that of that of the Happiness Lab, which Onyeka Obiocha and Vishal Patel opened last March. According to Obiocha, 100 percent of the net profits made from selling their Happy Life brand coffee roast go to investing in the coffee farming communities that they get their coffee from.

“I hope that we catch on to people,” Jitter Bus’s Barletta said. “I think we have the potential to serve amazing coffee to people and I hope that we can reach out to as many people as possible and offer them the best cup of coffee that they’ve ever had.”

Barletta said that the Jitter Bus plans to be wherever it can park. The trio has been looking into a few locations in New Haven, including by Yale-New Haven Hospital and on the corner of College Street. The plan is to sell coffee six days a week.

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posted by: Adelaide on February 1, 2016  5:18pm

This is WONDERFUL!!!! I have hoped for a coffee cart/bus in the downtown area that wasn’t a chain forever!!!! Please make one of your regular stops around the green somewhere!!!!


posted by: Bill Saunders on February 1, 2016  6:20pm

A little cross-threading with regards to the proposed food cart fee increase— I think it is a good a idea, that if your food bus is registered in New Haven, that it should have some financial advantage in the the ‘fee department’ due to already paying into the property tax system….

Food Cart for thought…..

posted by: ILivehere on February 2, 2016  8:57am

Great so a West Haven group rolls in to steal business from New Haven Tax payers. As if we don’t have a million independent small coffee shops competing with each other already.

posted by: Renewhavener on February 2, 2016  12:08pm

@Bill Saunders.  Agreed.  Well timed article.  Wishing them luck in this business context, which hopefully will not become even more structurally unattractive in the near future.

Food (er… drink?) for thought: even at a 40% operating margin, they would need to sell something on the order of 7,000 additional cups of coffee, or nearly 440 gallons, in order to absorb the proposed new fee. 

How much sugar will city hall take in their coffee Mr. Nemerson?:

posted by: Helivesheretoo on February 4, 2016  3:22pm

@Ilivehere Andrew lives in Wooster Square, so….*sips tea*

Why you mad though? Are you trying to get in on the coffee hustle?

posted by: ILivehere on February 4, 2016  3:27pm

I think you just proved my point. So your saying even though the owner lives in New Haven they choose to register the truck at 101 Fairview ave west haven in order to doge New Haven taxes and compete with New Haven tax paying businesses. This is exactly why we need to start charging site license fees for these trucks.

posted by: Helivesheretoo on February 4, 2016  8:40pm

@ilivehere they registered as a New Haven business and pay taxes to New Haven, not West Haven. Soooooooo ... You proved my point?

Again, why you mad though?

posted by: ILivehere on February 5, 2016  10:18am

I think everyone can see from the photo at the top of the article where they are registered and pay property tax’s.

I’m mad because I pay over $50,000 in property taxes (to new haven not west haven) and any business this and other trucks take away from brick and mortar businesses effects there ability to stay open. Eventually that turn over lowers the value of the property and increases the taxes for everyone who owns property here. It works out great for West Haven and other surrounding suburbs where tax cheats register there vehicles to doge New Haven taxes though.

posted by: Helivesheretoo on February 5, 2016  6:50pm

@iliveheretoo you are wrong, and that is not true. They were told in order to have the bus approved for business they had to list an address on the bus. They chose to use the location they store the bus. The bus is registered as a New Haven business and they pay taxes for it to New Haven. Just because you don’t want to accept that doesn’t change the fact that it is that, a fact. I’d be happy to help you verify that information if you wish to continue arguing it.

Are you still mad if they’re a New Haven business?

posted by: ILivehere on February 5, 2016  9:04pm

Sure tell us what to search for to pull up the personal property taxes on the bus

Funny the state business concord system places all 3 principals and the company business headquarters in West Haven

Drops the Mic

posted by: Helivesheretoo on February 8, 2016  11:20am

@Ilivehere the document you showed shows where they are registered for business identity tax and sales tax, which is paid through the state to Connecticut, not to towns. The location doesn’t matter so far as it is within Connecticut.

They have an itinerant vendors license to New Haven and pay taxes to New Haven through that. There is no property tax for a food truck regardless of where the people who own it live because it is mobile…..

Also, Andrew does not live at that address. He lives in New Haven.

posted by: Helivesheretoo on February 8, 2016  11:25am

@ilivehere Do you think all brick and mortar business owners in New Haven live in New Haven and pay personal property tax to New Haven that way? I’m confused as to what you’re even upset about. Are you mad that they are a food truck and supposedly stealing business from brick and mortar businesses, that they are from West Haven and are operating in New Haven as a New Haven business and paying taxes to New Haven in the only way food trucks can, or what..? Confused.

posted by: ILivehere on February 8, 2016  12:47pm

First off your wrong about taxes all business pay personal property tax on equipment. The equivalent of that for a food truck would be the personal property tax on cars and trucks that we all pay. That tax is not a pass through to the state it goes to the towns that the automobile is registered in. If they registered the truck in west haven then west haven collects that personal property tax not New Haven. West Havens tax rate it 25% lower then
New Havens so its no mystery why they would doge the New Haven tax.

What I’m mad about is that it costs a lot of money to run this city Police, fire, education, trash services, social services and on and on. The community all shares in all of these expenses and use of these services. for example 60% of the city budget goes to education. Brick and mortar restaurants obviously cant have kids but they pay in anyway. The entire reason food trucks have become so popular to open is because operating a business out of a truck allows you to capitalize on all of the benefits of a city like new haven with out paying into the system even for service that they not only use but use abusively like side walk trash cans or not paying the parking meter they sit in front of all day.

As far as where the principals live I don’t really care its where the business lives and in the case of a food truck that is where its registered determining what town it pays personal property tax to.
Get it?