Mobile coffee trucks, also known as mobile coffee carts or mobile espresso bars, are popular for people to grab a quick cup of coffee on the go. These vehicles have all the necessary coffee truck equipment to serve various hot beverages, from espresso to cappuccino. As food trucks, mobile coffee trucks are a profitable branch of business with high demand. They can be found in various locations, such as busy city streets, office buildings, and special events. In addition to serving traditional coffee drinks, many coffee trucks also offer a selection of pastries, sandwiches, and other snacks. With their convenience and delicious offerings, it’s no wonder that coffee trucks have become a staple in many communities.
How To Build A Mobile Coffee Shop?
Mobile coffee truck business is among the popular food truck concepts, and starting a mobile coffee shop can be a rewarding and exciting business venture. Still, it does necessitate careful planning and thought. Below you can find some tips for creating a successful mobile coffee shop:
1. Developing A Business Plan
Planning your business, including every detail from a to z, is the immediate action that will make you succeed, no matter what business it is. You can start with establishing your budget considering the truck’s price, whether you will rent or buy it, and your routine expenditures such as coffee, the food you serve, gas, employee, and maintenance costs. By establishing your budget, you will prioritize your expenses and allocate your resources to align with your business goals.
2. Getting A Food Truck
The next essential step is to choose the right truck for your business, considering the size, cost, and kitchen equipment you want to place in the truck. Remember, your truck is the heart of your business, the place, the shop where you will operate your entire work. It should look good, but the point is the functionality of the truck. Despite the limited area, it should be able to produce as good coffee as a typical coffee shop.
3. Obtain The Necessary Permits And Licenses
You need to obtain several permits and licenses to start a mobile coffee truck business. The permits and licenses required to start a mobile coffee truck will differ depending on where you live and the specific requirements of your local government.
Before starting your mobile coffee truck, it is critical to research the specific requirements for your location and have all the necessary permits and licenses. Failure to do so may result in fines and other legal consequences.
4. Purchase Coffee Truck Equipment
The basic equipment you need for serving coffee is a coffee machine, a refrigerator for ingredients, and a cash register. You can also add other equipment depending on what you have on the menu, whether you will serve food, and other requirements.
5. Stock Your Mobile Coffee Shop
Buy the necessary supplies, such as coffee beans, milk, cups, and any other items you intend to sell.
6. Promote Your Business
Use social media, local advertising, and word-of-mouth to get the word about your mobile coffee shop.
7. Train Your Employees
Ensure your employees are properly trained to operate the equipment, prepare coffee and other products, and provide excellent customer service.
Coffee Truck Requirements and Regulations
The rules and regulations for starting and operating a food truck business will differ depending on the business’s location. However, coffee trucks generally must follow local food safety laws and regulations and obtain the necessary permits and licenses to operate.
• Health Department Regulations: Most areas have health department regulations to ensure that the food served to the public is safe. This could include handwashing facilities, food storage and handling, and regular inspections.
• Insurance: It is critical to have insurance to protect your business in the event of an accident or other unforeseen circumstances.
• Permits and Licenses: Coffee truck owners may be required to obtain a food service permit, a business license, and any other permits required by their local government. The following permits and licenses are frequently needed for a mobile coffee truck:
- Business Permit: To operate your mobile coffee truck, you will most likely need a business permit or license from your local government.
- Food Service Permit: If you plan to prepare and sell food from your mobile coffee truck, you will almost certainly need a food service permit from your local health department.
- Mobile Food Vendor Permit: Many cities and towns have mobile food vendor regulations, and you may need a mobile food vendor permit to operate your mobile coffee truck.
- Food Handler’s Permit: To comply with food safety regulations, you may need to obtain a food handler’s permit or certification.
- Vehicle Permit for Specifications: If your mobile coffee truck is large or specialized, you may need to obtain a permit or license. The coffee truck may be required to meet certain safety standards, such as having adequate brakes, lights, and reflectors. The truck may also require routine inspections.
Essential Coffee Truck Equipment
The specific equipment you will need will depend on the type of coffee and other products you plan to serve, as well as the size and layout of your truck. We made a list of the basic coffee truck equipment needed to start a coffee truck business.
1. Commercial Espresso Machine
A commercial espresso machine is the first and most essential mobile coffee truck equipment. There are several types of commercial espresso machines, including manual, semi-automatic, and fully automatic. A commercial espresso machine generally works by heating water to a high temperature and forcing it under high pressure through a small amount of finely ground coffee. The flavors and oils in the coffee are extracted during this process, resulting in a concentrated espresso shot.
When choosing an espresso machine, the key points are the size and production volume. Finding a commercial espresso machine that fits in your truck is also efficient enough to handle the all-day work since espresso is what a coffee truck will need all day long. You can choose from 1 to 4 group heads, the main pieces that brew coffee.
When it comes to powering the machine, dual-fuel espresso machines are highly efficient since they operate both by electricity and LPG, making them ideal for mobile trucks. Alternatively, considering the power requirement, you can opt for an electrical machine.
2. Coffee Grinder
To offer customers a fresh cup of coffee, you must grind the coffee beans right before using them. It is difficult for water to filter through coffee beans when they are ground, which extracts the flavor of the coffee, making coffee grinders crucial. Commercial coffee grinders come in various sizes, so considering your available space will help you choose. There are blade and burr grinders, which both grind finely. You may opt for two different grinders as mobile coffee truck equipment if you serve both drip coffee and espresso to not mix the flavors to increase the service speed.
3. Refrigeration Unit
A refrigeration unit is not directly related to coffee, but as with any foodservice business, it is one of the indispensable mobile coffee truck equipment. it will be needed in a coffee truck for perishable items, such as milk and other ingredients, and for food you serve, such as pastries or sandwiches. A commercial ice and water dispenser is good for cold drinks, favored on hot days, and an undercounter refrigerator would also be a perfect choice to keep food fresh.
4. Water Filtration System And Sink
A coffee truck requires a water filtration system to ensure that the water used to make coffee and other beverages is free of impurities and contaminants. Water filtration systems designed for ice machines, cold beverage equipment, espresso machines, and coffee makers enable you to prepare better-tasted hot and cold beverages removing chlorine, sediment, and other pollutants that can degrade the taste and quality of water.
Most local health departments require food trucks to have a commercial sink with hot and cold running water for handwashing and cleaning. The sink is also used to wash dishes, glasses, and utensils, which is necessary to keep items clean and prevent germs from spreading.
5. Commercial Blender
Along with iced coffee, coffee-based smoothies are selling like hotcakes on hot summer days. So if you want to broaden your offering and cater to some of the summer markets, getting a commercial blender could be a good option as mobile coffee truck equipment.
6. Pos System
A POS (point of sale) system is a mobile payment system that aids in sales transactions in a business, such as a coffee truck; it helps to process sales, accept payments, manage inventory, and generate reports. It is also a digital cash register capable of automating tasks and integrating with other systems. Since most of society has changed to debit and credit cards instead of cash, you will definitely need them.
7. Serving Supplies
Disposable cups and lids are what you need to serve coffee and food in your coffee truck to serve t grab&go customers. You will also need stirrers, napkins, cups, and straws for cold coffee and milkshakes.
8. Power Generator
What will make your coffee is a coffee machine, and what will make it work is a power source. A portable generator is not only required for the coffee machine, but also you will use it for most of the equipment and your lightning. Choosing a silent generator that reduces noise pollution and has enough capacity to power all your equipment would be best.
How Much Does Machinery Cost For a Coffee Shop? 
Commercial coffee truck equipment costs vary depending on the type and quality of equipment you select, as well as the size and layout of your truck. However, here are some approximate costs for common pieces of equipment:
- Coffee machine costs range between $3,000 and $10,000.
- Refrigeration system: $1,500 to $3,000
- Cash register or POS system $800 – $2,500
- Grinder prices range from $200 to $1,500.
- Cups, lids, and other serving supplies $500 – $1,500
- Food storage containers $200 to $500.
- Sink: $500 – $1,500
- Water tanks: $500 to $1,500.
- Water filtration system: $500 – $1,500
It is important to note that these are only estimates; actual costs will vary depending on location, supplier, and type of equipment. Other expenses, such as truck customization, licensing, and insurance, must also be considered. It may also be beneficial to consult with mobile coffee truck equipment suppliers or experienced coffee truck operators to obtain a more accurate cost estimate. Investing in quality mobile equipment will likely result in lower long-term costs because it will last longer, require fewer repairs, and won’t break your workflow.
Mobile Coffee Truck Menu Ideas
We also prepared some ideas to give you a starting point to come up with unique and creative menu items that will set your coffee truck apart and attract customers. Additionally, you can conduct market research and gather customer feedback to better understand their wants and tailor the menu accordingly. You can create custom hot or cold drink combinations according to your return-customer suggestions and make a difference from coffee-shop chains. You should just remember that your coffee shop equipment will affect your menu diversity, taste, and quality.
- Hot Coffee: As you are a mobile coffee truck operator, serving any espresso-based drink is what your customers expect. From americano, macchiato, latte, and cortado to flavored coffee like caramel macchiato are a must on your menu.
- Iced Drinks: Coffee is not only a hot drink; the cold and iced versions are also indispensable for hot days. Adding iced coffees, frappes, smoothies, lemonades, and iced teas will make your mobile coffee truck an all-time stopover for coffee lovers or those who want to chill with a cold drink.
- Teas: As well as coffee, there is a huge variety of tea types. Having tea on your menu, from traditional tea types such as chai tea, green tea, earl grey, or herbal teas, to tea-based coffees, is a good idea to attract customers.
- Food: Serving appetizers and grab-and-go food, such as bakery products from croissants to muffins or sandwiches, is a good choice for a mobile coffee shop. Also, having breakfast items such as yogurt parfaits or smoothie bowls can be an option since most people would like to visit for a coffee in the mornings.
- Non-Dairy Alternatives: With an increasing number of people looking for non-dairy options, consider offering almond, soy, or oat milk as an alternative to regular milk.
Key Points To Follow While Making A Coffee Truck Menu
- Consider Your Target Market: Determine what type of coffee and other items your target market is likely to enjoy and include them on your menu.
- Keep It Simple: Giving customers too many options can be overwhelming. Maintain a simple and easy-to-read menu that focuses on your best-selling items.
- Use Appealing Descriptions: Use descriptions that make your menu items sound appealing and delicious to increase sales.
- Consider Pricing: Make sure your prices are competitive with those of nearby coffee shops and food trucks. When determining your prices, keep in mind the cost of ingredients, labor, and other expenses.
- Consider Seasonal Variations: Depending on the season, there may be greater demand for iced beverages in the summer or hot drinks in the winter; adjust your menu accordingly.
- Revisit Your Menu and Go Customization: Review your menu regularly and make changes as needed based on customer feedback and ingredient availability. You can also create new customized drinks according to the customer’s wishes and suggestions.
To Sum Up
Mobile coffee trucks are both a profitable and fun type of business. Unlike other food trucks or food service businesses, you can operate a few certain mobile coffee truck equipment with a little labor. After deciding knowing how to start a business, what requirements it has, and which equipment you need, you can have your place among the mobile coffee trucks and thrive with a unique menu.