Thinking about starting a mobile espresso business...like an ice cream truck, but with class and flair

Anyone here doing this? I would really love to bend your ear. Thanks!

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I am seriously considering doing this as well. I am home coffee roaster with about 2 years of experience, but have many years of experience owning businesses.

I'm thinking of an angle that emphasizes locally roasted coffee and selling beans as well as all types of prepared coffee beverages from the truck.

I've been considering this for quite a while but getting much more serious about it now. Only thing is that I would be hiring someone to work on the truck, so it will be challenge to minimize/avoid workers pocketing cash.

What is your plan?

Andrew
i have a kiosk for sale, more class than a truck.....
Where do set up this kiosk? In a mall or something? I do like the mobility of a truck.
well it is a stand alone structure, 8X10 custom built looks like a little log cabin =)

Andrew said:
Where do set up this kiosk? In a mall or something? I do like the mobility of a truck.
yea, it is kind of fixed when u hook up the electric/phone but you can still unhook and trailer/ drop it off some where else like fairs etc if you have a generatior...
Hi Kylee, I have had a couple customers go this direction over the years. I know that one of them had a fair amount of success driving between business parks etc.
Thanks for the replies everyone.

My plan is to start with a vehicle with lots of character and charm...a head turner. I have a couple different ideas swirling around in my head: I have found vintage ambulances for sale online for a "coffee emergency" or STAT theme but wonder if that is too cheesy. Or, an older step van like the one on this website: http://www.espressogiuseppe.com/index.htm Or even a Dodge Sprinter with a great paint job. Or perhaps a bus like the one in attached photo. Heather, I like the idea of spontaneous sales: I want to be able to put the gear in park, step into the back and immediately start making coffee without having to set up. Once I got my feet underneath me, I would like to move into espresso catering. I am working on finding out how many businesses do catering in my city, but I haven't found anyone advertising it. This week I will visit the two prominent local roasters and see what they say.

Mike, like you mentioned, I would go to different business parks. I know at first I would just have to do random driving around, making contacts and marketing. Then, do I set up regular routes so folks expect me at certain times or do I keep it spontaneous? There isn't anyone in this town of 300 thousand doing this type of business. Before 9/11 there was a lady who would come to my husbands FAA building on a regular basis, but when new security measures were put into place after 9/11 and she couldn't get close to the building, she quit showing up. I have tried to find her but she seems to have gone out of business. ...and why she is out of business would be very helpful information to have!
Attachments:
I don't know the zoning in your city, but Pittsburgh has a specific set of rules regarding mobile vendors. Everything from having a place to return the vehicle to each evening, to sink sanitation rules, it's about as stringent as opening up your own shop. What methods are you planning on serving this coffee? An espresso machine requires 1000+ watts to operate and you'll need a generator that can handle that amount, not to mention pumps, water towers, grinders, etc. It can be done, but know that you're going to have to put a fair amount of money into getting it running.
Jake...thanks! Yes, I am currently wading through the information I have received from my Dept. of Health. About the other stuff...I am looking into the cost of all of this. I think I have enough capital, but I'm not done researching yet! It is difficult to estimate costs of refurbishing and outfitting a vehicle you don't yet have. So...I am also considering buying a vehicle ready to go. There are a couple of companies that Mfr. trucks and vans for espresso businesses. (coffeeguy.com)

Jake said:
I don't know the zoning in your city, but Pittsburgh has a specific set of rules regarding mobile vendors. Everything from having a place to return the vehicle to each evening, to sink sanitation rules, it's about as stringent as opening up your own shop. What methods are you planning on serving this coffee? An espresso machine requires 1000+ watts to operate and you'll need a generator that can handle that amount, not to mention pumps, water towers, grinders, etc. It can be done, but know that you're going to have to put a fair amount of money into getting it running.
Kylee said:
Thanks for the replies everyone.

My plan is to start with a vehicle with lots of character and charm...a head turner. I have a couple different ideas swirling around in my head: I have found vintage ambulances for sale online for a "coffee emergency" or STAT theme but wonder if that is too cheesy. Or, an older step van like the one on this website: http://www.espressogiuseppe.com/index.htm Or even a Dodge Sprinter with a great paint job. Or perhaps a bus like the one in attached photo. Heather, I like the idea of spontaneous sales: I want to be able to put the gear in park, step into the back and immediately start making coffee without having to set up. Once I got my feet underneath me, I would like to move into espresso catering. I am working on finding out how many businesses do catering in my city, but I haven't found anyone advertising it. This week I will visit the two prominent local roasters and see what they say.


In the course of researching ideas for a truck, someone posted a picture of a BIG Hummer that had equipment on slide-out rails in the back. Very cool looking setup.

I'm not leaning toward an exotic vehicle for this and also may not go the espresso route. In my area of Connecticut there is plenty of demand for regular coffee, so I will probably keep it simple for now. Also, now sure if I'll get a bigger roaster and roast all of the coffee sold in the truck. My reason for considering this option has been that people go nuts over the coffee I roast (and give away to friends, neighbors, and family). It would be nice to stick with that theme but I'm not sure if I'll have time to do all the roasting, manager that business, and work with my other business that already consumes about 50 hours/week.
I would stray away from the "vintage" vehicle idea, I had an older character vehicle kitted out as an espresso bar.
Cost a lot of $'s to setup and although enjoyable to work from and very successful, in the end the maintainance and running costs of the vehicle itself ate up all the profits. Also remember to do your research on your name, as original as you think your idea may be, somebody else may be running around elsewhere with the same name.
In NZ gas fired espresso machines are quite popular in mobile setups, only then requiring a small generator or invertor for the other electronic components of your setup. Check out my pics of Espresso Rescue on my picassa page, we ran everything off a petrol generator, 2 group espresso machine, grinder, blender, cash register. Everything else was run on 12v from battery such as pump for water supply, interior lighting and fans.
Hi Kylee,

I build weird espresso vehicles. We just finished an electric truck with a complete espresso bar in the back. It is run off of battery and solar power, and I converted the espresso machine to run off of propane. I've done Sprinters and other delivery trucks, If you are converting this yourself, I'd be happy to give you free advice.

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