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Thread: which coffee equipment best suits a "Coffee Van"

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    which coffee equipment best suits a "Coffee Van"

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi, first timer here - so apologies if I have put this thread in the wrong section. Firstly I am a fan of good coffee & as a result, I would like to start up a coffee van business (maybe coffee kiosk), & I am wondering which equipment would be best. After reading many of the threads here, I have come to the conclusion that people in here know what they are on about (I tend not to trust salesmen recommendations - as they are often on commission). Any help at all would be greatly appreciated! Feel free to offer advice on other aspects too. For now, Im going to explore this site some more :D

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    Re: which coffee equipment best suits a "Coffee Va

    The best equipment will vary by environment/usage and finances. Your question as phrased is unanswerable. Unless youre looking for the very best equipment in the world, at which point youd best have very deep pockets. ;D


    Java "It all depends..." phile

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    Re: which coffee equipment best suits a "Coffee Va

    ok, i admit i didnt make it very clear (partly because i dont know how to). but here is attempt number two:

    I aim to have a medium/large van (so size should not matter), hopefully aiming to produce 150-200 cups a day (3 days a week).

    As far as price range is concerned, Im flexible. I want coffee of better quality than you get from supermarket machines(should not be too hard I had a laugh), a machine with easy maintenance would be high on my list too.

    Any futher points that I should look out for, please feel free to say.

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    Re: which coffee equipment best suits a "Coffee Va

    If you plan to start from scratch, van and all, do you realise what your budget needs to be?

    Why only 3 days a week?
    Thats not going to recoup your setup costs as soon as possible.

    Have you a location/s in mind?

    Do you have any experience making espresso?

    Do you have any experience in running a business?

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    Re: which coffee equipment best suits a "Coffee Va

    Theres a coffee van that comes to my workplace and quite a number of my colleagues queue up even before he shows up to buy coffee. I had to buy his coffee once because I forgot to bring my own. While waiting for my latte, I asked him about his setup, a Mazzer and an Expobar 2 group. Well-maintained and looks right home at any coffeesnobs kitchen benchtop. Finally got my latte, took a sip of the foamy bit mixed in with the crema and it wasnt too bad. But that was as good as it ever got. The taste of the actual coffee was flat. Only the top bit which had the crema tasted ok. I then asked him about his beans and he proudly showed off the imported beans... and even offered to sell me some. Long story short, if you do decide to go into coffee van business, with whatever machine you end up with, make sure you have fresh beans....

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    Re: which coffee equipment best suits a "Coffee Va

    On that note, Ive heard the Expobars are good travellers, as far as driving them around in the back of a van etc. No personal experience though.

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    Re: which coffee equipment best suits a "Coffee Va

    I will be doing it 3 days a week for 2 reasons: I will have my other 9-5 job too, enabling me to keep paying the bills while the business starts up, keeping my head above water incase it takes a while to get a good client base, or if i mis-read the concept of there being a niche for a coffee van.

    Second reason is that the weekends are very busy near me, lots of events on, tourists, concerts, exhibitions etc. & I think it would be a nice service to offer. I am always looking for a nice coffee & snack when on a day out :)

    No experience in making expresso, but I am hoping to learn!

    Yes I have experience in business, as I have a home business set up with years already which is going well as a part time job

    I have yet to decide whether a towable kiosk, or a coffee van would be a better choice. Kiosk would lower costs, but a van may attract more customers.

    About the fresh beans, how long qualifies as fresh? Would this limit me beindg able to buy in bulk, seeing as I wouldnt be selling every day.

    A friend of mine in Rome is keeping an eye out for how similar operations work there, as they are known to like their coffee!

    Thanks for the feedback Thundergod, NewToEspresso, YeeZa

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    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: which coffee equipment best suits a "Coffee Va

    Sounds like youve already thought about a lot of the things you need to.

    Fresh?
    My answer is up to 4 weeks from roasting; preferably less.

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    Re: which coffee equipment best suits a "Coffee Va

    Hi Number123,

    If I were you, I would try a bunch of different coffee and work out (a) what you like and (b) what your target market likes. Once thats done, I would get in touch with a few coffee roasteries. Coffee roasters give quite a lot of support to the coffee side of many businesses; their business isnt just selling coffee - most reputable roasters will also be able to provide you with all of the training and consumables that you need. When it comes to coffee equipment, people will differ about whats the best for any given application, but everyone agrees that the best equipment for commercial use is equipment that works. With this in mind, most coffee roasteries will also be able to supply and advise abotu espresso machines and grinders. Buying equipment through your coffee roastery can be very convenient if they provide support for it, but if you have to pay for an external tech to service it, theres little value in getting a machine through the roastery unless you like it - ask about this when you talk to your supplier.

    Coffee roasters can be a great help in setting up a business that sells coffee, but you need to remember that they are in it to make money, too. Many roasters will try to bamboozle you with "free" stuff, but nothing is "free." "Free" umbrellas, equipment, etc, are often factored into the per kilo price for your coffee or, at the very least, come at the cost of locking yourself in to a long contract. Thats not to say that those deals are particularly bad, just to point out that you should go into your discussions with coffee roasteries with your eyes wide open. Personally, I think that its best to be very up front about what you want so that you start off the business relationship with clear expectations. Once you have done that, Im sure that youll find having a coffee roasterys support very helpful and rewarding.

    Cheers,

    Luca

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    Re: which coffee equipment best suits a "Coffee Va

    I have thought a lot about it, but my biggest downfall is lack of knowledge about proper coffee!....which might be an important factor ;D

    I have come across "Mega van", its a small quirky van, that might attract people. Seems to be doing well in Europe, but I fear it may be too small to hold the equipment needed & additional snacks perhaps.

    As for the coffee beans: 4 weeks is not so short a time period. I could work with that. Would an air-tight container help it stay fresh longer - or would you advise against that.

    I like the idea of getting inolved in coffee, because in any coffee shop I go, you get to chat with intelligent, friendly & polite people, whereas fast-food trailers attracts inebriated people who can be quite troublesome! Not stereotyping here, just a few bad eggs Ive encountered.

    How many pieces of equipment would I need to purchase in your opinion? I can then try work out what space I would need, which van would suit & I can start browsing items in each category.

    "Its only through asking questions that we learn" :)

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    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: which coffee equipment best suits a "Coffee Va

    Your beans should come in sealed bags with one-way valves that keep oxygen out but let the beans degas when they are very fresh.

    They need to be stored in a cool, dry and preferably dark environment.

    Youll need the coffee machine of course and a grinder.
    A fridge and a generator for times when you cant just plug in.

    Others with more experience might like to add to that list.


    There are also some old threads you might like to read on coffee vans:
    http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1159868364
    http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1163710606/493

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    Re: which coffee equipment best suits a "Coffee Va

    Wow, thanks for the links - they are pretty informative!!

    Another factor I must decide is whether to get a van I stand in, or serve from the back (like in the link you told me about)

    I think one that I stand in would look better, more "organised", for lack of a better word, but standing at 62" that could be a problem I had a laugh.

    Also putting the equipment around me in a convenient & logical manner, could be like a game of tetris. but i hope to have fun trying!

    I see a lot of cs roast there own beans, might this be a way to go for a specialised flavour, or would it be a case of me trying to run before I can walk?

  13. #13
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    Re: which coffee equipment best suits a "Coffee Va

    Walk first.

    If you decide to roast your own it will give you more profit but youd need to get consistant.
    Some customers are coffee snobs.
    I know of some people that will offer the customers their own roasted beans on occasion as a "special" while they are getting the hang of it.
    That way its the customers choice and a "difference" is expected.

    I think standing and serving from the back is a more friendly look and as you suggest, probably more comfortable.

    A van comes around to my sons work occasionally and they set up a small table at the back as a counter.

    It works good for them and theyre allowed to plug into the power while they are there.

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    Re: which coffee equipment best suits a "Coffee Va

    Quote Originally Posted by number123 link=1211811903/0#11 date=1212067401
    ... Another factor I must decide is whether to get a van I stand in, or serve from the back (like in the link you told me about). I think one that I stand in would look better, more "organised", for lack of a better word, but standing at 62" that could be a problem I had a laugh ...
    Id strongly advise against the stand inside option with a van, for several reasons:

    1) Youd be raised a couple of feet from ground level, & at 62", youd look imposing to customers - think retail psychology ... customers dont want the subconscious message (even though unintended) of being looked down upon;

    2) During summer, standing inside a fairly enclosed van will be like working in a sauna (sweat dripping off you aint a good look to customers);

    3) An operation structured so you are standing with customers behind the van is more personable & interactive with customers - believe me, they are mesmerised when they can see the whole art of making coffee when theyre virtually standing right next to you whilst youre in action.

    Hope this helps ;)

    Cheers,
    Tony

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    Re: which coffee equipment best suits a "Coffee Va

    Tony, I thought it took you a while to come to the party on this one!

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    Re: which coffee equipment best suits a "Coffee Va

    Quote Originally Posted by YeeZa link=1211811903/0#14 date=1212127171
    Tony, I thought it took you a while to come to the party on this one!
    With over 600 dubious posts on my part, I thought it was time to comment on something I have a bit of expertise in! ;D

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    Re: which coffee equipment best suits a "Coffee Va

    This is really good advice, I have some reasons "pro stand-in van" though:

    I thought about the "looking down" on a customer downside, never thought of the sweat one - even though it happened to me a lot when I worked in a shop years ago!

    Anyways:
    #1 When it is raining, I will be inside & not wet (I know you can purchase small canopys though to prevent this)

    #2 Set up time on site, is dramatically reduced

    #3 Chances of theft are reduced, as everything will be behind the counter

    #4 Cash register out in open could be very very dodgy, depending on locations

    I am for & against both options, but a van I stand behind would be significantly cheaper I assume..

    But at 62" I might not be able to see my customers coming, maybe a convertible van I had a laugh

    Think I will hold back on roasting for a bit, try & get a hang of the very basic aspects first.

    Can hear the coffee trolley coming outside the office now.....instant....again.....

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    Re: which coffee equipment best suits a "Coffee Va

    #1 Yes, canopy.

    #2 Diagree - see pictures in the threads I posted for you. Setup can be as simple as opening a door or two.

    #3 Placement - I cant think what could be stolen though. Sugar?

    #4 Placement. Alternative is change kept in apron pockets or a bumbag.
    Bumbags worked great for all the drivers when I worked at Pizza Hut.
    Get one with several sections and its as good as a till (just without a receipt function).

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    Re: which coffee equipment best suits a "Coffee Va

    haha they can keep the sugar, I was thinking along the lines of snacks like brownies, cookies etc

    Alot of the vans have the back & side door open, one for display & one for service.

    As it would just be me working, i could only cover 1 side at a time..

    The idea of a bumbag is pretty smart - it would save space & the money needed to purchase a cash register.

    Must check into it.

    Cheers Thundergod

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    Re: which coffee equipment best suits a "Coffee Va

    Thanks re bumbag.
    The cash register vwould be a lot of extra weight too.

    As far as display of brownies etc, it depends on how much stock youll be carrying and whether you can figure a way to display them and still keep them within your reach and out of theirs.

    Think back to my suggestion of a small table you can use for a counter.

    It would also delineate your work area from the customer space.

    EDIT:
    Ive seen cookies could stored in a glass jar.
    You need to take off the lid, remove the cookie with tongs and bag it.
    That keeps them in view but less likely to "walk".





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    Re: which coffee equipment best suits a "Coffee Va

    Ive seen those jars thundergod, they were in a cafe i used to frequent a while back, gives it a home-made look. I really liked them! (the jars...and the cookies too come to mention it I had a laugh )

    Another thought, another change of direction...

    Would a market stall (6ft x 4ft - or something a bit larger) be a viable alternative to a coffee van?

    It would be transported around in my car, generator etc would be covered in the back of the tent- but still make an unpleasant noise i expect. The tent/stalls can be erected with minimal effort from what Ive seen

    It would be a far cheaper way to test the market, to see if there is a demand for mobile coffee in my area, but it would lack a part of the certain "mobility aspect" & it might not look as appealing to "would-be customers", but savings would include van, insurance, tax etc.

    Im very aware Im straying off the topic with each post I make, so apologies on that part!

    Just bouncing out some more ideas, see what opinions I get

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    Re: which coffee equipment best suits a "Coffee Va

    I see there is a 2 group Expobar for sale...

    mod edit- post modified in line with site posting policy

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    Re: which coffee equipment best suits a "Coffee Va

    Heres a few photos for you. Rancilio 6e gas heated, invertor etc.


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    Re: which coffee equipment best suits a "Coffee Va

    Older S20. Go 3 group. Two group are just toys when it comes to steam recovery on gas machines


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    Re: which coffee equipment best suits a "Coffee Va

    A photo for you. Toyota Grandia. Tight fit buts works. Ford Transit is best as 300mm wider than Toyotas


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    Re: which coffee equipment best suits a "Coffee Va

    Note that the last photo is of the lastest Classe 6e with the new steam levers instead of turn knobs. A great machine. Have built eight mobile units now and run three for myself.

  27. #27
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    Re: which coffee equipment best suits a "Coffee Va

    Hi Bantam,

    Can you please read over http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1187136315 and resize your photos accordingly? They may well get removed because we all prefer to avoid excessive scrolling...;)


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    Re: which coffee equipment best suits a "Coffee Va

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Hi,
    I have some experience in Coffee Vans, so allow me to contribute.
    Set a budget for your investment, then consider the sales required to make a return plus recover / re pay the initial investment.
    A real simple formula might look like:

    $50,000.00 investment
    Average single transaction $5.00 (small coffee and cake of some description)
    10,000 sales required to recover investment alone.

    Alternatively

    Weekend market attendance 1500 to 2000 people
    10% likely minimum penetration of total attendance = 150 to 200 sales
    $750 to $1000 Gross takings, less 40% cost
    $450 to $600 net.

    Invest in quality equipment and maintain it. mechanical failure can keep you from earning, and cost far more than the dollars saved by reduction in maintenance.

    We used La San Marco coffee machines that are tough, easily serviced and very affordable.

    Wayne.



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