WIUM Tristates Public Radio

New Coffee Shop Parks in Galesburg

Nov 7, 2013

If you want to find most coffee shops you just look up their address, and Jerry’s Mojo is no different except that in this case the address is listed as “Everywhere, Galesburg Illinois.”

That's what the business's Facebook page says. That’s because this coffee shop is mounted on the back of small, bright green, electric truck.

Founder Jerry Strom uses the site to update customers on his location at any given time.

Jerry's Mojo selling coffee on Galesburg's Seminary Street.
Credit SSS
I can make all the good fancy stuff, but I like to cater to the coffee connoisseur and the construction guy.

The shop is also the newest tenant at Galesburg’s Sustainable Business  Center, though the owner is usually only there when he parks the shop at the end of the day.  

On sunny, brisk fall day he has set up shop  in the lot of the Watson Funeral Home on Seminary Street. Strom said his permit lets him do business anywhere in Galesburg other than city property.

That ability allows him sell to people who may not normally come into a brick and mortar coffee shop.

“I can make all the good fancy stuff but I like to cater to the coffee connoisseur and the construction guy that’s building a building that just wants a good cup of coffee or to try something different," Strom said.

Founder Jerry Strom brewing up a cup of coffee.
Credit SSS

His  theory seemed to pay off as Bob Schmidt sipped his vanilla pumpkin spice latte.

Schmidt had walked over from the construction site across the parking lot, and not for the first time this week. He also said he wasn't the only one who made the trip.

“Yeah, the guys liked it the other day when it was cold and windy out here,” Schmidt said.

Strom said he started the business in July with his wife.

They had been kicking around different mobile food and drink business ideas, but they got a bit of a push toward a coffee truck from her father.  

"He actually found this electric truck about a few days later on Ebay and bought it and said ok here ya go! And we’re like ok I guess we’re doing a mobile coffee shop now,” he said. Strom worked at Innkeepers Coffee in Galesburg for eights years and learned how to make the full range of coffee drinks.

Though Strom said the truck itself draws customers as well, and some from a bit farther away than the construction site across the parking lot.

De-de Gapbert from Peoria said that’s what made her stop in for a cup of coffee.

“My cousin was in Galesburg and she saw the cute little vehicle, I think she saw him on the road and she had to catch to him and take a picture and send it to me. So now I got one over on her cause now I’ve been here and she hasn’t,” Gapbert said.

Credit SSS

When Strom started the business in July, he said he just parked the shop at home, but it took up a lot of space at the end of the day.

He said being at the Sustainable Business Center gives him more room and it’s heated, which his garage isn’t.

That is a big plus in colder weather, given the large water tank and dozens of glass bottles filled with flavored syrups in the back of the truck.

Unlike a normal truck the loudest part of Jerry's Mojo is the generator he uses  to power the coffee maker. The truck itself, Strom said, is nearly silent.

"If you’re inside the cab you might hear a small whir, but it's silent, there is no sound. I can sneak up on somebody in traffic and they’d be like ‘oh there’s a big, bright green truck I didn’t hear coming,” Strom said.

He said there are other perks to Jerry’s Mojo being electrically powered besides just being stealthy.

Strom said he drives about 15 miles around the city every day and about 80 miles per week, so fuel costs would be much higher for a gas powered truck.

Plus  many of the businesses he parks near think the idea of an electric coffee truck is cool, so he said they let him plug in for free.