Espresso machine: Propane vs Generator for Mobile Trailer


New member
Feb 14, 2017
Rural New Hampshire
Hello all,
For all you mobile coffee truck/trailer entrepreneurs....I'd like to know your opinions of a propane vs generator run espresso machine.
With 20/20 hindsight do you wish you'd set up differently?
Or, do you like what you have?
And why?
Thanks much!


Active member
Aug 15, 2005
Central North Carolina
Wife and I did operate a mobile setup for about 2.5 years, more for fun/hobby due to my health issues. I have no experience with a propane fired espresso machine, but have had lots of feedback from a few guys using them in a mobile setup and they didn't seem ideal for a fast paced environment. Mainly from a recovery perspective when doing back-back drinks. In our van everything was powered either from landline power (220v 50 amp capacity) when available or a rather large, but awesome Generac whole house generator attached on a rack on back of van. Believe it was around 13kw running, so there was never a lack of power. Running on electricity was MUCH cheaper than firing up the generator and of course we liked to be plugged in at our daily vending spot as well as at all events possible.

The espresso machine was a 2 group Nuova Simonelli Aurelia running on 220v power. I could extract from both groups while steaming and it never kept me waiting. It recovered as quickly as being depleted. Of course the power coming into the main panel also fed grinders, an ice machine, water pumps, water heater, lighting, refrigerator/freezer, etc...

With mobile setups you can use battery banks/inverters, propane fired generators, diesel/gas generators that feed from vehicle fuel source, etc. It really all depends on what you want to use the vehicle for and on what scale (power needs) needed. For our needs/capacity what we had never let us down or had us wanting to improve/expand on it in any way.


New member
Dec 27, 2016
The coffee trailer that I operate runs on the same power as shadow's. We have a 3 group head, 2 steam wand espresso machine, lighting, water pumps, water heater for 30 gallons of water, 80 pound ice machine, 2 grinders, drip brew, full fridge, plus smaller appliances (open sign, speakers for music, iPad charger) etc running on the same landline power. We have never had any problems. The trailer is stationery and landline has been the only source of power. I plan on opening one of my own. I have a friend who owns a trailer that is stationery and very simple. He suggested landline over generators if possible. He said the setup was easier, cheaper, more reliable, and simple. Hope this helps!


New member
Jun 7, 2011
I run a 12k generator that is built into the truck. I'm not usually somewhere that I can plug into a 240v line but do when possible. I wouldn't go with anything smaller than that as it takes every bit of power to run the espresso machine, 220 double brewer, refrigerator, etc. Not to mention the heater when it gets cold.