Advice/Thoughts on serving coffee in festivals, show, markets, etc.

Hey Everyone,

I was asked to be a coffee vendor at the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament (horse jumping - woo!), which I would love to do. I am also thinking of making this an extention of our coffee house and putting together a mobile cafe that can travel to other events in the area. I am happy to take any bits of advice from people who have experience with these types of events. Quick background I own/operate a coffee house doing hot and iced coffee brewed by the cup (we also do batch brewed drip coffee in the AM), and high quality espresso drinks. The event itself with be able to handle any electrical load we might need.

A few specific questions have to do with looking at espresso and pour over coffee. Do you think it's worth the time/effort/hassle to do either of these things? What is your experience with these things? I would consider offering both batch brewed coffee as well as a pour over option for those who want it - anyone done that before? What is the easiest way to get hot water for a pour over station? Would using many hot water kettles make sense, or is a water tower the best bet? Have you had success moving a line quickly with espresso drinks? Once again thanks for any help!

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In our foodtruck we had a bulk grinder, a pour over brewer, thermal shuttles, a Mazzur mini espresso grinder, and a beautiful Elektra Sixties model espresso machine commercial model which runs on 220v. We used 5 gal Culligan water bottles for the pour over and another 5gal hooked up to a flowjet water bottle pump.

On a farmers market day we'd typically go through 3-4 bottles on the brewer & 1-2 on the espresso machine. Recovery time on the boiler was immediate due to the 220v. We only offered a sm on the espresso because it is a 1 group so we could pull 2 shots at a time which meant 2 drinks at a time unless they wanted an extra shot.

The line moved quickly with 3 employees. We closed the truck but I still have the espresso machine for sale if you are interested. It is in MINT condition.
We did by the cup pour overs for decaf & in between batches when in a pinch. The pour over water was held in a zorishi heated water kettle that is typically used for cupping. I still have the pour over stand (2 cup) and kettle too if you are interested in those too.

The pour overs always slowed the line down.

Thanks for the offer Marisa - I will keep it in mind. And thanks for the tips - How many people would you serve on a typical busy day?

Just to let you Know you will need a food health permit. Most events charge a fee to be there anywhere between 150.00 to 500.00 a farmer market is early in the am. Most events are around 900am or 10 so think about this. Check to see if you will need a four bay sink.

All I am trying to say check everything.

Power cable I take 300 feet 10gauge they say the have electrical but how far is it just thoughts

Thanks Tom - There is a $500 vendor fee and we get a 10x20 space in a large tent with 3 other food vendors. Does that sound reasonable to you?

The event will run starting in the AM (horse jumpers practicing early - 6am or earlier; spectators arriving starting around 7 or so - hopefully :) ) through the afternoon from wed-sun. I asked about the sink requirements and she did not know of any requirements, but I will be chatting with other vendors to get an idea of what is needed. When I asked about electrical they will be fitting all vendors with lots of electrical equipment, and assured me anything we need they will be able to handle.

Any other things I should consider let me know - thanks!

Contact the health dept They will tell you what they will want you to have and you will have to get a food permit 500 is about right I pay 250 for the fair as a drink vendor and that is wed to sat night and I have a four bay sink with hot water on demand. will you be doing smoothies also? coffee and fruit? and remember that you will have to keep the milk at 40 deg.


I'm not an electrician, but that sounds like an awfully long run for an espresso machine power cord. Have you checked this out with a licensed electrician? At very least I'd verify that your voltage was still sufficient for your machine at the business end of that cord.

Tom Mohr said:

Power cable I take 300 feet 10gauge they say the have electrical but how far is it just thoughts

That is the reason we use a honda 3000 the Quite one. I was at a event last night four vendors on a 15amp plug I look and laugh the event people think that they can plug any thing in to that. and like I said it is a whole diffrent ball game when you do out door events at the fair I run two 100 foot lines on 20 amp breakers and you can tell the power drop. and remember that that 500 is about 170 a day that is a lot of coffee to give away. At oe event we lost a blender because the  electrician ran 10gauge and the hot and ground melted together before the breaker 1200.00 down the drain. lesson learned.


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