I am in the process of starting my own coffee business.  I have worked at self-contained carts before and would like my husband to build one for me instead of spending $20,000 on a manufactured one.  However, I cannot find any plans or directions on how to build one.  Does anyone have any resources?

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Here is a good site for parts. I couldn't find any blueprints. The site provided has some interesting designs you could consider mimicking.

Fancy that, we built an espresso cart; here's our vid, to get an idea:  http://www.baristaexchange.com/video/how-to-make-an-espresso-cart?x... 

I could give you our amateurish blueprints but 1: it evolved from the prints as we built it, and 2: if you're going to build it from scratch, design it to your specific needs. 

In essence, it's not that hard, it's a cabinet that can contain a fridge, some extra storage, and room for fresh and wastewater tanks.  The real trick is figuring out how to transport it efficiently, and how to power it, and Where to park it.

Here's two mistakes we made, which thankfully resulted in our "mobile coffee cart" transforming into a cafe countertop.  1: we got a full powered La Marzocco Linea 2 group, and then powered it with a big-ass "silent" diesel generator.  This generator is A) not that silent, B) smelly, C)  expensive to run, and D) Nearly the size of an undercounter fridge, so it's not easy to transport either.  2: no matter what material you use, it's going to be ridiculously heavy.  Get a Grainger catalogue and buy the most amazing, expensive wheels you can afford.  Our beefy-looking Home Depot castors got chewed up just moving it around, making it harder and harder to maneuver. We used a winch to crank it into our enclosed trailer; which was like trying to drag a cow somewhere it doesn't want to go.

So as happy as I am that we got ourselves a little cafe space to work out of, here's what we would have done if we were trying it again:  Gas powered lever-press espresso machine (these are not easy to find, nor cheap, but don't even bother otherwise) powered by linked car battery/inverter or maybe a small quiet honda or Yamaha generator.  It's the heating elements in the espresso machine that suck up the most power, so if you can heat those by gas, you just have to power the little fridge, grinders, water pump, etc.  And actually I would forget the wheels altogether and figure out a way to attach the cart to the trailer it was carried on.  Some kind of small low profile thing.  The next challenge is attaching a canopy.  We made a frame with a combination of pvc pipe and electrical conduit, but didn't get around to attaching the canvas before we decided it wasn't going to be worth it to cart around.  So if it's not in an enclosed trailer, the canvas has to be either detachable, or strong enough to stand up to the wind when you're driving.  Or you can skip it and use a big pop up canvas like at a farmer's market.

Look at your city's health permit rules before you build so you know what has to be included.  You will almost definitely need a plumbed hand sink, and in some cases it has to be supplied with hot water.  If this is the case, you're in trouble because an undercounter water heater-even a small one-sucks about 20 amps because of the high wattage heating element (much like the one in an espresso machine).

otherwise, it's a snap!  It can definitely be done, it will look cooler and overall be cheaper than a manufactured one, and you can customize it to your needs.  Just make sure to do the research and plan meticulously, and get ready for a lot of work.  Ours took about 3 months to build, and cost about $900 for the cart itself, not including equipment or trailer.  It's made almost completely out of thick plywood and 1.5x 1.5" wood beams for stabilization, and is pretty damn sturdy.  And a used cart, or a manufactured one will more than likely come with some hunk of crap espresso machine strapped to it that will cost way more than it's worth.

I highly doubt that you'll find any ready made blueprints anywhere, but I'll be happy to answer any questions you have.  Still want to do this?

Oh here's a more finished pic:  http://www.baristaexchange.com/photo/open

Christopher, thank you so much....

I have a lot to tell you.  I will write you later and let you know some ideas I have.  They are strange ones too, but I think it will work.

Hello Chris,


I am considering building a mobile espresso cart due to thefact that buying a manufactured one is just too damn expensive. The lowest 6 foot base model was $2000 plus shipping. I also live in Canada so.. If I have any questions may I contact you later?

We found a lot of the things we needed (propane hot water heater, water pump, waste/clean water tanks, small propane/ac fridge, inverter, marine battery, battery charger, ect) from a camping world in NY state. I'm pretty sure they ship... 

Like Christopher, we under estimated moving it. We should've invested in a good trailer base  to build it on-- Tractor Supply has some for around $500-- as castor wheels in muddy fields- after a big festival- are a pain in the ***. 

Best of luck! 

Sure thing.  I'll help if I can.

Chris Brown said:

Hello Chris,


I am considering building a mobile espresso cart due to thefact that buying a manufactured one is just too damn expensive. The lowest 6 foot base model was $2000 plus shipping. I also live in Canada so.. If I have any questions may I contact you later?

I've built a successful coffee truck and have learned off of many mistakes. I've created an ebook on how to build coffee or espresso trucks. 


If you have any questions, throw them my way!


This is an old thread, but the keywords are relevant.  I'm taking my 20+ years as an espresso cart manufacturer into plans, tutorial and guide for those that want to build it themselves.  I'm accepting contact information for those that are interested to give me incentive to continue with the process.  My url is in my profile to show you the styles and features I put into my carts.

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