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Thread: mobile concept

  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Sep 2005
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    mobile concept

    My wife and I are considering a concept of a Mobile Coffe truck. Unlike a tradtional coffe truck our truck would severe Gourmet coffee along with tradtional blends, Ice coffee when in season,pasteries, brand donuts, water and kids drinks. Our target customers are local sporting events, nieghborhood routes (ie ice cream truck) , office buildings. We are also considering a possible expansion of the menu to include low carb salads and small news stands items. We have ex. in small buisness start-ups but no experience in this field. Is it possible for this concept to work. Where could we start to I find infortmation on mobile cafe style trucks,and information on start-up cost and product cost. All and any information is welcomed. Thank you

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Aug 2004
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    Des Moines, Iowa
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    Going mobile is more of an experiment then actual advice. Most of it will depend on the vehicle and the maximum gross weight it can handle. After you figure all this out then you can design your mobile coffeehouse.

    Things to consider, size of espresso machine, size of coffee brewer, electrical (wiring and generator 110v vs. 220v this will also determine the type of espresso machine and coffee brewer), water (hot and cold), waste water, refrigeration, and storage. After all this don't forget to tack on how many people will work in the van (its added weight too).

    Your weight is a key component and it determines everything. The last couple of mobile coffeehouses I saw failed because they overloaded the vehicle and couldn't keep up on maintenance to keep it rolling. That and the overhead was probably killing them (maintenance cost and gas mileage).

    I would probably be looking at a delivery vehicle of some type. Nothing that sits to high. The big question is do you buy new or used. If you’re a handy mechanic, or have a cheap one then used isn't a bad option. But if you’re paying $70/hour and loosing $60/hour than that’s not going to look to good on the books either.

    If you look elsewhere in this forum, you will find other people who are doing or are trying to do the same thing. I believe if you truly want to do this and do it right your going to have to spend more then you'll want to invest.

    If I was setting up a mobile coffee shop I would buy new vehicle, new espresso machine, used coffee brewer, used refrigerator, maybe used storage and waste tanks, and new generator. Cars, espresso machines, and generators are complicated pieces of equipment and have a high price tag to fix. Most coffee brewers rely on gravity so there are very few moving or complicated parts. I could say the same thing about fridges but they to can become expensive.

    Lastly, don’t forget to check your local and state codes. Nothing sucks worse then being inspected and told you have to dump another $2000 in to something you hadn’t planned for. Especially if you redesign or even scrap the whole project.
    Have you ever walked through the aisle of your local grocer and smelled the death of a dying bean?

  3. #3
    Junior Member
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    May 2005
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    23
    It is definately true that there are a number of threads on this forum, including links to customizers, advice for do-it-yourselfers, etc. Peruse carefully. Also, search "mobile espresso" and other combinations, and you will find people in the business.

    Regarding the inspection routine, you should definately plan to submit blueprints in advance to your Health Department for approval. This is called Plan Review and is the same as if you were going to open a restaurant. which in fact is what your truck will be. Expect to include a hand wash station, for instance.

    One thing I would encourage you to think about early is maximizing the high-traffic, stationary venues. Driving around routes, selling a latte here and there, is a low return on the gasoline expended. The cool thing about a truck is that you can drive it to where there are hundreds of people - your sporting event idea. Pick up your County tourism package and see how many festivals you can find.

    Another thought: don't be afraid to limit your menu. Since the truck can be expensive to run, don't have lots of items you make small margins on: a shop can do this because they have room.

    Just going to your County Health Department website for Food Manager certification should be eye-opening. Your truck will also need a commissary - inspectable, approved water source, vector control, three-compartment sink. A lot of truckers make arrangements with a local deli, bakery or restaurant to refill their tanks and clean up blenders, pots, etc. Offer to sell their doughnuts.

    There may be some slack counties out there that aren't as particular - but then you might have trouble going to nearby counties for permitting. The most populous counties will have the most potential customers and the tightest restrictions.

    I second the notion that mechanical competence/confidence is a bigger item here than in other coffee businesses.

    Good luck. As with any business, there are people who get overwhelmed, and people who do very well.

  4. #4
    Member
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    May 2005
    Location
    SF Bay Area/East Bay
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    38

    Go for it!

    I purchased a Mobile Espresso Truck from Seattle Coffee Trucks in Camarillo,CA. Works well and havn't had any problems. They handled all the permiting and inspections for me. Check out their website.

    Where are you located at?
    Espresso911

  5. #5
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    Where are you?

    Hey CC where are you located at?
    Espresso911

  6. #6
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    Sep 2005
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    thanks 911

    I spoke with Bruce seems like a nice guy. After looking around the truck seems to be a nice fit. Did you buy the walk up or walk thru? the truck will be located on the east coast in Boston. I do have concerns though with our climate and how the truck will respond to the snow? Any information that you could help me. I would really welcome it. Thanks for responding

  7. #7
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    May 2005
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    SF Bay Area/East Bay
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    Looks like we are on at the same time

    Yeah, buy a 4 wheel drive cab and chasis or you'll never make it in the snow. I live in Sunny California and we DON'T do snow here, EVER

    I have the type that you open the sides and do business face to face with the customer. I'm not sure I would want to be stuck inside a vehicle. But then again it rarely gets below 50 degrees here. I imagine I would think a bit differently if the temp was lower. or it was snowing, sleeting, ice-pelleting etc..
    Espresso911

  8. #8
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    May 2004
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    What areas of Boston will you be doing business? I am doing this south of the city and am doing very well.

  9. #9
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    Sep 2005
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    Beans

    Hingham to Boston. Ill be based out of Hingham covering local events, office parks along with the comuter boats . Where are you located?

  10. #10
    Junior Member
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    Sep 2005
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    5

    Feed back

    Beans if you don't mind. I would really welcome any feedback you might have about things that you have found typical of the South shore market
    or of Bostonians in general. I'm pretty nervous about not carring tradtional coffee and flavors. We both know Bostonians some times do not welcome change.

 

 
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