Encourage or Discourage my Mobile Coffee shop


New member
Jan 5, 2010
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I am at the tipping point with my business concept and it's either take the plunge or pull the plug. So now I am turning to the experts in this forum who have gone through it all.

First, I have chosen to purchase a truck from http://www.vendingtrucks.com that is an 88 P30 Workhorse Diesel. It comes with a 7500 watt electric start generator and all the kitchen equipment I need. I anticipate having to upgrade the fresh water tank and possibly the generator since they tell me that the installed equipment will use about half the available power. I have chosen a 2 group Rancilio Epoca DE espresso machine and have found some reasonably priced used espresso and coffee grinders. While I know that this truck is going to play a major factor in whether the business succeeds or fails, the thing that is worrying me the most at the moment is if my concept and approach are sound.

Before purchasing the truck and jumping in too far, I hope to secure a permit or contract from the Navy Base near my home. This base is in the sticks and there is no real competition to speak of. There is a Daily Grind out in town a couple miles away, and while it has its regulars I think it is due more to the fact that it is currently the best coffee in town rather than it actually being good coffee. Plus, those that work on the base have to drive to get it and then go through the security to get back to work. The other competition comes from the 7-11 and other convenience stores. Oh- and McD's. Can't forget the McCafe... The biggest competition comes from one (1) vendor that the base has allowed which is a "roadside cafe" trailer that serves up breakfast and lunch. It's done well, but the owner has recently bought a restaurant elsewhere and tells me that if it goes well he will be giving up the base. But even if he doesn't, he isn't mobile and he is tucked away so that he is only serving a small portion of the base. Also, while they serve (starbucks) coffee, it's terrible. (not that I like Starbucks coffee anyway). Old and cold. blah. No real competition there.

My experience with coffee to date has been as a consumer only. I have a home espresso machine, but know that doesn't mean much... I have just received the Espresso 101 training DVD and have purchased books on the subject, so at least I have that and I do intend to practice with the machine before attempting to sell my first coffee.

The gate security tells me that during the morning rush (say between 6AM and 8AM) they count 6,000 people coming onto the base. That seems to be an excellent business opportunity if the base will allow me to set up somewhere near the gate. After the rush, I could spend the rest of the day roaming the base and serving the various command buildings and schoolhouses here.

Apart from the typical espresso recipes, I will also offer drip varieties and tea's. From the kitchen, I want to offer breakfast sandwiches and maybe doughnuts (which I think would be a big seller).

I work full-time, so I intend to start on a part-time basis, concentrating on the rush by working from 5AM-9AM and then working my day job. I would also work weekends by working events like festivals, concerts, shows, etc. and also working a nearby college campus. If things work out, I ultimately would like to quite the day job and do this full-time.


Does anyone else out there work military bases? What has been your experience? Or what do you think the prospects are if I can land it? I believe the total population of the base exceeds 15,000 and growing. I have not approached the base yet with a proposal, but I have been working on it. Nearly have a presentation ready for them. It seems to be a captive market really...

Has anyone done business with vendingtrucks.com or know of them or their reputation? They are out of New Jersey.

Insurance! I have not been able to locate an insurance company that will insure the truck! I know there must be someone out there that will. But I haven't found them yet. State Farm, Progressive, Hartford, Great American, etc., won't. Any suggestions???

Coffee. I really need to decide on a coffee to use. I "interview" with Counter Culture today and would like to use them. Any advice or opinions on this would be appreciated.

For this concept, what would be the minimum water supply tank that you would recommend? The truck comes with a 20 gallon supply and 30 gallon waste tank. If you have a P30 or experience with them, where can larger tanks be mounted conveniently?

The generator is rear-bumper mounted. Don't really like that, but not much choice... Would you recommend that I build some kind of enclosure to protect it from the weather and theft? Be hard to steal it, but people will try to steal anything these days (recalling the guy dragging the coke machine with the police chasing him recently).

There are lots of other questions I could ask, but this is long enough! Thanks for your thoughts!


Well-known member
Aug 15, 2005
Central North Carolina
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Without going into alot of detail here..... you can call me at home and I will tell you what my wife and I are doing with a similar setup. E-mail me at (use link) and I will give you the number... Really, anytime... right now if you can.. Later!