My associate and I are having some issues setting up a mobile coffee cart.  Our trailer is 4x8 with about two feet extra in room over the tounge.  We wanted to have a espresso machine but it seems powering that as well as the hot water tower, coffee urn, etc would draw too much power.

We have a honda e2000i, and a deep-cycle marine 12v battery with 1000w inverter.  The plan is to focus on french press, drip coffee, tea, and mate.  We already have all the permits and passes required so no issues there.

Specifically, our questions are, what is the most efficent way to heat all the water we would need?  Hot Water Towers vs electric water boilers?  Is it possible to keep up with demand with a lever espresso machine?  Is it possible to find a reasonably priced lever espresso machine?  What systems are best for holding the h20, pumping the h20, and containing it in a grey water system?  Any reccomendations for grinders, urns, and other specific equiptment to use on a mobile set-up?  We are expecting 100-200 20 oz cups a day on busy days.

Any and all responses are appreciated.  I already have looked at all the other threads regarding this topic, I am just looking for information that is a little more specific.  Thanks

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I'm assuming that you meant drip brewer when you said urn, and not an urn brewer. If that is accurate, I question the need for both a water tower and drip brewer. Any decently-sized airpot drip brewer will have a water tap for dispensing hot water for tea, etc.

Sure, you can find a reasonably-priced lever espresso machine. Check out Astoria's Gloria lever. As far as keeping up with demand, you'd want to go 1 more group than you otherwise would - so you'd probably want to go 3 group if you'd normally choose 2.

Would you go for the propane-conversion option with this lever? If not, I wonder how much energy consumption you save by choosing lever (especially given the need to go bigger). Most of the energy consumed by the machine is heating the water in the boiler(s).

Not much info on the other stuff.

Those Honda generators won't last long.  They are for weekend camping and backup in emergencies.  What you need is a China Diesel generator, but they are big - about a 12kW.  More power then you will need, but it will last longer.  

1000w is less then one standard 120v house circuit. Plan on getting a bigger inverter. If you are going battery power, try to find rebuilt car batteries cheap, wrecking yards can be a good source.  And learn to rebuild them yourself, that's also cheap and easy.  If you have high intermittent loads it will kill a deep cycle battery with the quickness.   

I wouldn't waste money on anything from China for this application. The engines/powerheads will be crap regardless of it being diesel.

Diesel power is good for a genset, but it's heavier, noisier and less emission friendly than propane/gasoline options. On the plus side diesel is fuel efficient and long lasting.

On our van we have a "standby" Generac propane fired 13KW unit and it will run as long as need be provided you have enough fuel onhand.

Regarding inverters, I wouldn't waste the time/money as it will limit your capacity. I'd recommend a good generator rated at least 15-20% more than all your needs totaled and better yet an electrical connection as it's so much cheaper to operate and electricity is getting easier to obtain at events, street fairs, etc.



"Do you think a single decently-sized Airpot would be able to handle all the water heating we would need? The majority of our sales will be to-go orders so we'll need to to be able to operate quickly.  Like I said before we are obviously really conscious about our power consumption so if a single airpot would work that would be ideal."

The last trailer I worked with used a single Bunn ICB (110v) brewer for drip, though there are several other 1-1.5 gallon single brewers that would be appropriate. They found it to be adequate.

Any comments from others? Shadow, what do you use?

Did use a Bunn VPR APS, which worked great for our setup/demand. Could brew a 2.5 liter airpot in 5-6 minutes and recovered rather quickly. Over time I converted many people to Americanos, lattes, etc. and the need for drip coffee slowly faded away. The last few months of operation I totally phased drip out as I was dumping more than I was selling.

For those wanting to start a mobile operation I'd recommend going the espresso machine route as so much can be done with one. I wouldn't waste space/time with a drip machine/bulk grinder, etc. You can grind/dose/extract for an Americano in 45 seconds, you have no waste and always have a fresh/hot drink.

FWIW I was using around 3.5 oz of coffee per 2.5 liter airpot. If I had to dump that it would equal 6 double shots I could've done with espresso. Multiply that many times over and you see how much coffee can be wasted in a short period of time with drip.

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