How Mobile Coffee Vans Operate?

A mobile coffee cart is a great treat for pedestrians, allowing them to grab a refreshing beverage on the go. As well as buying coffee, you can get other snacks such as cakes and biscuits, similar to those served in a typical coffee shop. It’s thanks to the demand for convenience foods and drinks that such businesses are growing around the world.

What is a mobile coffee van?

Mobile coffee vans are vehicles that contain a coffee machine and other equipment required to sell coffee and related items that are normally sold at a coffee shop. A mobile coffee van is a great alternative to the normal coffee shops. It costs a lot of money to set up a coffee shop, but you can set up a mobile coffee van with very little investment.


The cost of starting a mobile coffee van is as low as £5,000. You can get a franchise with a renowned brand for about £30,000. People now prefer high-quality coffee, so these vans are mainly operated by professional baristas who craft coffee rather than dispensing it from a machine. The profit margin for this business is very high. Coffee is such an item that you will be able to sell it throughout the year and you will never be short of demand. You can convert any kind of vehicle into a mobile coffee van including golf buggies, VW campers, Piaggio three wheelers, etc. You can operate your business with lots of flexibility. You can only choose to operate in various events or you can do it every day in the streets or retail parks. It can be your part-time business as well.

Getting franchise

If you don’t have the experience in coffee business, then you can minimise your business risk by buying a franchise. There are many renowned mobile coffee van businesses that are selling franchises. You will be able to learn the business from the experienced professionals and get the necessary training and support for equipment. According to a study, the franchise sector of this industry is growing.

Hiring mobile coffee van services

If you are trying to find a mobile coffee van for your special event then you can search online. There are many businesses that offer mobile coffee services for special events. You can hire them for a few hours or an entire day. You can also hire them for a few days and in remote locations. These companies are well equipped and can serve a huge number of guests. The coffee vans used by these companies are technologically advanced. You can get personalized services. So, whether it’s a corporate event or a wedding, a mobile coffee van can make your event more attractive and enjoyable.

Operation of a mobile coffee van

In order to succeed in this business, the quality of the coffee and speed of service is very important. You need to stock your van with the finest quality espresso and milk steaming machine so that you can get the best coffee. During the morning rush hours, your machine should be able to make multiple cups of coffee fast and you should have enough people on your van to serve the coffee without making the customers wait for too long in a queue.  The van must be fuel efficient and should have an alternative gas power source. Here are the detailed steps of operating a mobile coffee van.

Obtain license

You will need to obtain a license for the business. If you want to sell snacks and other beverages alongside coffee then you will have to mention it to the local council. You will need to inform them where you are going to sell coffee so that you can get the appropriate license. You may also be required to have a food hygiene assessment.

Buy stock

It is necessary to keep stock on a regular basis. You need to find a reliable wholesaler from whom you can buy the stock. You must choose the right beans, grinder and espresso machine in order to make high-quality coffee. You will need cups of different sizes to serve coffee according to customer’s preferences. You will need other things like milk, straws, sugar sticks, stirrers, sweeteners, trays, etc. You should have lots of variation in your menu. Apart from the common items like a latte, cappuccino, tea, espresso, hot chocolate, etc. you should have syrups like vanilla and caramel.


A good coffee machine can be expensive, but it will last for a long time. If your budget is low, you can buy second-hand coffee machines from sites like Gumtree or eBay. Your coffee machine must be tailored to your van. The coffee machine shouldn’t take up much space. Make sure there is a power source. You should have an inverter generator. You can also use a leisure battery. A cost-effective option is to hire the coffee machine. You can get the grinder, freezer, etc. along with the package. You can hire the inverters, generators, and batteries as well.


You should have options to pay by cash or card. When customers pay by cash, the transaction will be faster and there will be less queue. However, you should have a portable card machine as well for customers who want to pay by card.


As the competition is high, you will need to have a good marketing plan. Word-of-mouth is a great strategy to attract your local customers. You can offer free coffee tasters. You can offer loyalty cards. Social media is a great platform to market your product as well. You should have a website where you can have your menu and information about your company.


You must have an insurance to protect your business from unforeseen events. Your insurance should cover your van and equipment. Having public liability insurance will protect you from accidental food poisoning. You can have employer’s liability insurance as well.

The mobile coffee van business is very competitive now. You will need to come up with innovative products and technologies to keep up with the competition. You can develop apps through which your customers can pre-order the coffee and know where your van will be through GPS system. You should concentrate on serving quality coffee always and try to create a brand image.

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