013 · Mobile Coffee Shop

The vast majority of men and women on this planet love coffee (or tea). Some are even totally addicted to it. The idea would be to go around with a mobile coffee machine and offer them a good coffee with, why not, a little delicacy as a bonus, wherever they are outside.

How many times have I stood in a line for an interminable time and looked around for a coffee machine? Many times, certainly. I would have paid a lot of money (not too much either) to see a mobile coffee seller passing by.

Curiously, you can find a lot of them in Asia and South America, but almost none in the Western countries. However, the few testimonies I have read on the web are rather positive. Some people who have tried the adventure in Europe or in the US are even very successful.

The Idea

The idea is to convert a motorized or non-motorized vehicle (electric tricycle, motorcycle van, pick-up truck, rickshaw, trailerable kiosk, etc.) into a mini coffee bar, install a real “espresso” machine and go to busy places. We need to go and find the aficionados of this black nectar where they are, outside, but especially where there is no (or little) offer.

What to offer them?

In addition to the great classics such as latte, macchiato, cappuccino, americano, caramel, hazelnut or chocolate flavored, etc., without forgetting the varieties of tea (green, black, red fruits, rainbow, or whatever), you could offer some extras (the delicacies that I mentioned in the introduction). You have the choice: cupcakes, piece of pie, French pastries, cookies, chocolates, etc. Also offer some original products? People love novelty (especially if it looks good on the picture), and they easily succumb to a sweet delight. And why not make all this yourself with your partner, so that it costs less? And what about soft drinks, fruit juices, ice creams? Well, it’s up to you. I’m just throwing out ideas.

On the other hand, the variety of choices you offer depends, of course, on the space you have. The more you have, the wider the choice can be, but don’t think too big from the beginning. Maybe start small and see what works and what doesn’t. If you walk around with a supermarket on your back, you might lose mobility. No, focus on what sells best and leave the other stuff. Think about maximizing the business’s revenue from the start.

Tricycle coffee shop Photo de EM80

Where?

There is no shortage of places where the demand is potentially the highest, and therefore, favorable to this activity: front of administrative buildings, shopping streets, festivals, concerts, exhibition halls, beaches and parks in the summer (think of the stock of ice for coffee and iced tea), tourist places, train and metro stations, the local market, etc. The choice is yours. Again, where there are people, there will be money to be made.

And if your coffee shop has an original look, you could very well develop a form of partnership with a company specialized in the creation and management of events. I admit that I’m getting ahead of myself, but it’s certainly something to think about.

How much does it cost?

The investment can be relatively high if you want to start directly with a motorized vehicle and a real Italian coffee machine. But if your starting budget is really tight, you can very well begin with a tricycle that you will have fitted out yourself and a second-hand coffee machine, or even a simple pod or capsule type machine? In any case, there is no point in going into debt before starting this activity because you have no guarantee that it will work.

According to my calculations, to start in an optimal way, meaning by finding a good compromise between the vehicle and the coffee machine, you could get by with about 3500$. With this money, you can buy an electric rickshaw (I’ve seen some for less than 2000$ on the Internet), a really good second-hand espresso machine (about 600$), plus the purchase of a blender, a mini-fridge, cups and other small equipment.

And what about the juice in all this?

Well, yes, all this equipment will need electricity to work. Don’t panic because there is a solution to any problem. In fact, all you have to do is to connect the pedals of your rickshaw to a dynamo, and then you will just have to raise it slightly, then pedal energetically in the vacuum just long enough for the machine to finish working. Can you visually imagine this? I can, and I’m laughing my ass off 😋.

No, more seriously, there are two cases. In the first one, you will have found a fixed location to rent during an event, for example, and there are chances that the city will put an electric terminal at your disposal. Otherwise, if you have chosen the mobility option, two or three good batteries should do the trick. And then you’ll tell me that the machine will probably need more than 12 volts to work. That’s true, but as others have already done, I suppose there is a solution to that (electrical converter? If there is an electrician out there, could they shed some light on this).

Towable coffee shop Photo de Michael Trolove

Last Point

Pay attention to the laws in your country. I know that it is sometimes very regulated, especially in the cities, so it is probably the first thing to do before anything else. Don’t hesitate to contact the local city hall in your area to find out exactly what’s going on.

Voila! That’s all I have to say on the subject for now. But if you have already tried this adventure yourself, don’t hesitate to share your experience with us. I’m sure it will be of interest to everyone who has or will land on this page.

Bonus

I can’t finish this article without showing you this little gem, which is a little dated, but still tasty (It is in French but you can activate the subtitles). 😁

EcoTips

Environmental and climate change issues are more than ever at the heart of the concerns of this 21st century, which is why I am proposing a few ideas that will enable you to limit the negative impact that the implementation of this idea could have.

These solutions that I suggest are sometimes largely insufficient to compensate for these negative impacts, such as carbon offsetting. Unfortunately, there is not always an ideal and 100% efficient solution, far from it. And if you have others, please do not hesitate to share them in the comments below.

There are several points that will allow you to reduce the impact of this activity on the environment:

  • Opt for organic and fair-trade coffee, tea, and other products. The impact of these crops on the state of the planet is in some places very worrying. It seems important to me to take this into account, especially since organic and fair trade are more and more “trendy” among consumers. This is another argument to guarantee the quality of your products, and also justify they’re a little more expensive.
  • Choose an electric vehicle, if possible, or even a pedal car if you don’t travel much (or if you have a very small budget). First of all, you will probably have to move in densely populated areas (and if you make your future customers cough like firemen, there is little chance they will come and buy anything from you), but also for obvious reasons of greenhouse gases, climate change, and all that…
  • Please, avoid disposable plastic at all costs! Offer cups, straws, and spoons made of recyclable and especially biodegradable materials. The oceans are filled with plastic to the point of forming mini-continents, and we all eat a little bit of plastic every day. So, thank you for the planet and thank you for future generations.
  • Don’t forget to provide a trash can for your customers to throw their waste in.

Pros

  • An atypical activity where you meet many people.
  • Life in the open air… polluted in the cities sometimes, it’s true (I should put this one in “disadvantages” as well).
  • Coffee at will all day long.

Cons

  • The working hours are sometimes long.
  • I don’t think you can get rich with this idea (but then again, that’s not the point either).
  • Depending on the weather, the seasons, the storm conditions…
Disclaimer, please read this

Legal and administrative aspects of the ideas you'll find on Sweekr are rarely discussed because they vary greatly depending on the country you live in. I would advise you to check with your local adminitration before starting any business. Keep in mind that if you make money, the state will ask for "its share" in order to guarantee the proper functioning of schools, hospitals and other public services. Therefore, you will probably have to acquire a micro-entrepreneur status, or any other similar.

Please also note that there are currently NO affiliate links on Sweekr! This means that NO commission is charged when you make a purchase from any of the sites recommended here. Some links are optimized for performance testing only, and each recommendation reflects the opinions or evaluations of the writer of this article. And be sure you'll be notified if (and when) this situation ever changes.

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