Mystic woman opens shipyard coffee shop in converted horse trailer

Jul. 30—MYSTIC — As an environmental science professor who recently opened a coffee shop in a converted horse trailer at a shipyard, Mystic resident Lynn DeLima has shown she's no one-trick pony.

Bumblebee Brewing Co opened Memorial Day weekend and will be operating at Mystic Shipyard, 100 Essex St., through the summer. The hours are 8 a.m. to noon Friday to Monday, and DeLima already has developed some regulars.

Ed O'Donnell said he comes down probably twice a weekend with his wife and her friend to grab coffee and take their dogs for a swim. They sat Friday morning with their dogs next to the trailer in chairs that DeLima said someone from the neighborhood donated.

New customers remarked "This is so cool!" and "It's a clever concept."

It's remarkable how much DeLima has fit into this tiny space. "We're boaters, so we know small places," she said.

At the cart's front are fruit, flowers, free dog treats, a three-tiered stand with muffins and croissants, and a mini fridge with Spindrift, bottled water, apple juice and lemonade.

On one side of the cart is the coffee grinder and the espresso machine, with cups atop the machine and lids overhead. On the opposite side, a countertop with a cutting board sits next to the hand sink and over a fridge with the iced coffee and local Farmer's Cow milk.

On the back wall is another sink, a toaster, a storage closet and the requisite inspection certificates from Ledge Light Health District.

DeLima said she got into coffee making during the summers between her work as an adjunct professor at Eastern Connecticut State University. At Bumblebee Brewing Co, she sells coffee from Tandem Coffee Roasters in Portland, bagels and pastries from Bagel One in Windham and chai tea from Chaiwala, a company that van travelers Eamon Fitzgerald and Rebecca Moroney, known as Eamon and Bec, started in Toronto.

The genesis of the coffee cart was when DeLima and her husband, Tony, converted a computer delivery Sprinter van.

"We converted it to a camper van like millennials, because we were like, 'If they can be van lifers, so can we,'" said DeLima, 62.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, her daughter and boyfriend last year escaped New York City for the Adirondacks, and the DeLimas visited. DeLima said her family was sitting in chairs in the driveway as she made cocktails and handed them down out of the slider door, which gave her an idea.

A friend told her to look at pictures of horse trailers people converted into coffee carts. She said they found a horse trailer in the Berkshires on Craigslist but it was so old, it kept blowing tires on the way back to Mystic.

The couple spent until this April converting the trailer, while DeLima got her ServSafe certification. She said they did a mockup with cheap plywood before getting acacia wood from Home Depot. She learned to tile, while Tony did the carpentry and some of the plumbing.

DeLima said she learned she couldn't have a food cart within a certain distance of a restaurant in Mystic, and Tony suggested Mystic Shipyard, which asked them to stay all summer.

"In the beginning, before word of mouth and all, it was slow, which was good because I was kind of freaking out," DeLima said, adding that she got more comfortable as she got more customers.

She said the name of her coffee shop came from thinking about the plight of honeybees and how their populations are decreasing, as an environmental science teacher.

"I could be a bumblebee, and travel boatyard to boatyard like a bumblebee on flowers," DeLima said. But she underestimated how long it takes to break down and build up the trailer for business, so it worked out that she's solely at Mystic Shipyard. But she hopes in the future to rent the trailer as a cocktail cart at weddings.