Opening Day- Our Harlequin Coffee Wagon

CoffeeGoddess

New member
Oct 13, 2004
33
0
Can we post pictures on this site?!!

Yeehaw! We FINALLY finished converting a horse-trailer into a coffee wagon and started roasting, brewing and serving to the masses at our downtown farmer's market, two days a week, a few weeks ago.

It's been wonderful! The first day, our freezer went crazy and froze the milk, so I decided I had three choices: 1) Break down and cry 2) Fold up and start again the next market day 3) Go ahead and stay, give away the brewed coffee (obviously no lattes or mochas) and get to say hello to the folks who will be our customers.

I chose number three and had a busy, wonderful time. The feedback on the Kona-blend that I roasted myself was wonderful and I must have received a thousand compliments on our cart. The health inspector came to give me my go-over and told me that we should build and sell them- he loved it and passed us with flying colors and free advice on where to advertise! :) :)

After that first chaotic week of opening the market, I excepted things to slow down a bit. Instead, we are gaining in sales each day. We will definitely pay for the cart early this summer (even working only two mornings a week).

The cart itself started as a double-axel horse trailer (the balance is beautiful and it's a solid piece, unlike other kinds of trailers we looked at). We put in a good floor then used the same material for the ceiling and countertops, plus we have the needed three sinks, had sink, hot running water, etc. I stand OUTSIDE the trailer, with the espresso machine facing the customers so that I can talk and interact with the customers. I think this had been key- people love to come up and chat about the wagon. They really love seeing the espresso trickle and change colors as it flows.

My husband converted the electric-powered espresso machine to gas (and what a powerhouse it is! A Conte hand-levered one that goes on forever!). The wagon uses five-gallon bottled water (we have two gas powered water heaters from RVs, customized by the hubby for our needs) and we have the ability to carry many more. We put a countertop over the front half of the trailer so the little outside door (painted bright gold) opens into a large storage area for water and cups, etc.

The only time I need to plug into any power is if I want to run the drip brewers while running the grinder... otherwise, I can balance the power needs without having to plug in, AND NO LOUD GENERATOR!!! Propane and a battery, baybay!!

The wagon is painted in a gold, harlequin pattern and I have an airbrush artist coming out to look at it this weekend to add two coffee cups to the back doors.

All in all, we spent way under $10,000 and have a wonderful coffee cart with room to add a little oven or (as the health inspector suggested) carry a grill that has a cover on it to set up outside the wagon, so growth is possible (if we choose). The market has been very busy and we already have "regulars" who love to talk Fair Trade, peaberry and smile when I use an actual demitasse for a shot.

LOVIN' IT BIG TIME!!! It'll be even better next summer when the profits of the day are no longer paying off the credit card bill we amassed in making it.

Loving that man, of mine... :wink:
 

topher

Super Moderator
Staff member
Aug 14, 2003
3,722
8
Boca Raton
Congrats!! You say that you are roasting...what brand roaster are you using? and how is the smoke affecting the others at the market?
 
OP
C

CoffeeGoddess

New member
Oct 13, 2004
33
0
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #3
Ahh, the roasting. When we talked with the market manager last fall, I told her I would NOT be able to roast- that takes a nice investment and time. She said that was alright.

This Spring (however), when she talked with the food editor of the local paper, she said that there would be a new Coffee Wagon at the market this year and because all the farmers are required to grow their own items, I would be roasting my own beans (since the climate tisn't fit for the growin').

:shock: :shock: :shock:

So, I called her to talk about this (and the cart was almost completely finished by this time). We came to a nice agreement- the market will give me time to learn and grow slowly with the roasting side of things.

I purchased a home roaster for around $70 and I roast four small batches the day before the market while the cart is at home, which is enough for one kind of brewed coffee (I offer four to five a day and the market is open for the morning only). The other drip coffees are Fair Trade roasts from Green Mountain Roaster.

I've just started roasting a blend I created (with suggestions from the bean supplier) for the espresso and I use this when folks order just a shot- the response has been very nice and has definitely helped my confidence level. There is one young Italian college student visiting his mom this summer who stops by for a shot every weekend (and even took the time to tell me he'd be out of the country for a few weeks but would be back when he returns), so I'm happy about the little roaster.

There is so much to learn about the roasting aspect that I don't see myself expanding a lot more on this right now. I'm comfortable offering my roasted beans with other choices for now, so we'll see where this leads.
 

editorbob

New member
May 12, 2005
5
0
Charlotte, NC
What a great sounding setup! I'd love to see a pic of your trailer - it sounds very cool. I completley agree with getting close to your customers, and they love seeing the process.

Bob
 
OP
C

CoffeeGoddess

New member
Oct 13, 2004
33
0
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #5
Thanks Bob! Even though I'm only 36, I can see myself doing this for years and years, especially during retirement. The market has many older couples who grow veggies or raise honeybees to suppliment their retirement. I think this would be perfect. (In a few years, though, it will have to suppliment the college tuition bills of our brood. Yikes! :shock: )
 

MarkAnderson

New member
Nov 25, 2005
2
0
Minneapolis
Converting to gas

Hi Coffee Goddess,

I am interested in all that you have to tell me about converting to Gas. I have a La San Marco 85-16m-2 that I am pretty sure can be converted to gas but I would like to do it myself. Can you give me any leads on how to get started. Sorry I know that this post is old I hope that you still are on this forum. Thanks in advance.

Mark Anderson
 

topher

Super Moderator
Staff member
Aug 14, 2003
3,722
8
Boca Raton
coffeegoddess..you said you roast enough for what you will serve that day...how long are you letting the coffee degas? You should wait 8-24 hours before you drink what you have roasted...well good luck!
 

netlag

New member
Dec 27, 2005
1
0
Sunny South Florida
CoffeeGoddess said:
Can we post pictures on this site?!!

Using a url link poster like http://picsplace.to/index.php
will allow you to post a pic like this:




the forum link version allows for larger pic to be shown when the thumbnail is clicked:

forum link (clickable thumbnail):
[_url=http://img8.picsplace.to/img.php?file=img8/5/illylogo2.gif][img_]http://img8.picsplace.to/img8/5/thumbs/illylogo2.gif[/img_][/url_]

you just simply post the link in the post and go :)
 

devalvyas

New member
Oct 28, 2007
2
0
Hello,

Can you please let me know how exactly to convert electric espresso machine to gas heated espresso machine?

Thanks
 

gypsyluvr

New member
Aug 24, 2013
3
0
Hi, I would love to see pictures and hear about your adventure with your coffee cart. I am looking into doing this in Arizona. I do hope you will contact me. :)



Can we post pictures on this site?!!

Yeehaw! We FINALLY finished converting a horse-trailer into a coffee wagon and started roasting, brewing and serving to the masses at our downtown farmer's market, two days a week, a few weeks ago.

It's been wonderful! The first day, our freezer went crazy and froze the milk, so I decided I had three choices: 1) Break down and cry 2) Fold up and start again the next market day 3) Go ahead and stay, give away the brewed coffee (obviously no lattes or mochas) and get to say hello to the folks who will be our customers.

I chose number three and had a busy, wonderful time. The feedback on the Kona-blend that I roasted myself was wonderful and I must have received a thousand compliments on our cart. The health inspector came to give me my go-over and told me that we should build and sell them- he loved it and passed us with flying colors and free advice on where to advertise! :) :)

After that first chaotic week of opening the market, I excepted things to slow down a bit. Instead, we are gaining in sales each day. We will definitely pay for the cart early this summer (even working only two mornings a week).

The cart itself started as a double-axel horse trailer (the balance is beautiful and it's a solid piece, unlike other kinds of trailers we looked at). We put in a good floor then used the same material for the ceiling and countertops, plus we have the needed three sinks, had sink, hot running water, etc. I stand OUTSIDE the trailer, with the espresso machine facing the customers so that I can talk and interact with the customers. I think this had been key- people love to come up and chat about the wagon. They really love seeing the espresso trickle and change colors as it flows.

My husband converted the electric-powered espresso machine to gas (and what a powerhouse it is! A Conte hand-levered one that goes on forever!). The wagon uses five-gallon bottled water (we have two gas powered water heaters from RVs, customized by the hubby for our needs) and we have the ability to carry many more. We put a countertop over the front half of the trailer so the little outside door (painted bright gold) opens into a large storage area for water and cups, etc.

The only time I need to plug into any power is if I want to run the drip brewers while running the grinder... otherwise, I can balance the power needs without having to plug in, AND NO LOUD GENERATOR!!! Propane and a battery, baybay!!

The wagon is painted in a gold, harlequin pattern and I have an airbrush artist coming out to look at it this weekend to add two coffee cups to the back doors.

All in all, we spent way under $10,000 and have a wonderful coffee cart with room to add a little oven or (as the health inspector suggested) carry a grill that has a cover on it to set up outside the wagon, so growth is possible (if we choose). The market has been very busy and we already have "regulars" who love to talk Fair Trade, peaberry and smile when I use an actual demitasse for a shot.

LOVIN' IT BIG TIME!!! It'll be even better next summer when the profits of the day are no longer paying off the credit card bill we amassed in making it.

Loving that man, of mine... :wink:
 

PinkRose

Super Moderator
Staff member
Feb 28, 2008
5,219
4
Near Philadelphia, PA
It looks like the last time CoffeeGoddess visited the Coffee Forum was in May of 2009.

You can always try sending her a Private Message through this Coffee Forum and see if she'll respond. Sometimes members have their settings set so they get a notice in the home E-mail when a Private Message is sent to them. You never know. You may awaken the CoffeeGoddess and get a response.!


Rose
 

gypsyluvr

New member
Aug 24, 2013
3
0
Thanks pinkRose, hope that doesn't mean they aren't in business anymore. It sounds like so much fun and I really miss my days of having an espresso shop.
 
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