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Thread: Coffee Vans

  1. #1
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    Coffee Vans

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi Team, has anybody had a chance to see how the mobile coffee vans are powering their espresso machine and grinders etc. I thought a generator would be the obvious way to go, but a friend of mine got a coffee in Brisabne the other day and said he could not hear a generator going.

    Regards Rob

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    Re: Coffee Vans

    Usually theyre run off an inverter. Just takes the 12VDC from the battery and converts it to 240VAC. Downside is possibly running the battery flat if youve got the van off for a significant amount of time and are running the machines.

  3. #3
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Vans

    Must be one hell of a battery! A machine running at, say, 2400 watts, would draw 200 amps. And thats just for one hour.

    Even with a domestic machine at half that wattage, youd be looking at a one hundred amp draw.

    (figures rounded for convenience, as a 12 V battery is actually a shade over 13V)
    Robusto

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    Re: Coffee Vans

    the one that stop by our office runs a small generator on the other side of the van.
    Its not too noisy, thats probably why your friend didnt hear it??

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    Re: Coffee Vans

    st33p, It would have to be a fair size generator, to run a coffee machine, most 2 group machines pull between 15 and 20 amps depending on the element size. Can you smell petrol/ exhaust fumes come from the van, that would not be a good experience when buying coffees? Is it a big van or a small panel van type with the machine sliding out the side?

    nanu, I had a mate who said he thought they run off an inverter, they must have a stack of batteries on board to do this. I estimate that a 150 amp battery would power a two group machine for about 5 minutes, so you would need ten 150 amp batteries to run a machine for about an hour. They may have someway of charging them during their coffee round.

    Regards Rob




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    Re: Coffee Vans

    My aunty is in the process of buying one of these vans. I was going to direct her to this forum anyway as I thought it might be useful for her so she might pop in here and answer your question.

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    Re: Coffee Vans

    Generally speaking...

    By far the simplest method is to use an "expensive" / high quality, low noise generator. Builders generators are not the go,...theyre cheap but theyre extremely noisy, very heavy to move around for the type of electrical capacity required, and the power they produce is "dirty" and not really suitable.

    You can set "quiet" generators up in a special insulated compartment in the van, feeding off the same fuel supply as the van (so you dont have the inconvenience to fill it up seperately), petrol or diesel, vented both for cooling and for escape of exhaust.

    The inverter thing is not as simple as you might think. The battery banks required are very large and can take up a lot of room in the van (say under a false floor), *are very heavy and very expensive. The kind of alternator required (on the van) to keep a "top up" charge going between stops (if required) .....is also expenisve aftermarket fitment. The main charge is done over night when you plug into the 240V charging system at home while the van is parked up.

    Remember you are not just feeding the espresso machine & grinder...if you comply with health regulations and depending on where you are you *may* need a small hot water system (athough admittedly this could be a gas fired jobbie) and you may or may not run ancillaries (however small) like fridge etc. *Gas powered fridges such as are used in caravans are not the go....they are extremely slow to cool and wont work on any kind of slope...may as well use eskies & ice, much better!!!!!

    When we sell espresso machines for "mobile" use we either remove the 15 amp element & replace with a 10 amp job, or we disconnect one of the multi part elements to reduce the amperage/wattage down from 15 amps to roughly 10 amps....depends on the type of element. This still doesnt account for the total capacity that a generator or inverter system would be required to feed, with the other appliances in the system that may cut in from time to time...which could take it up over 15 amps depending on what you are running (and therefore it takes you back up to bigger heavier more expensive generator / inverter systems.

    The choice of espresso machine is therefore important.....a 2 group machine is not a 2 group machine (as in "oils aint oils"...), and a machine with a large boiler and therefore good steam capacity (like ours) is preferable to something with a small boiler with little capacity.

    All this kind of explains why, its actually a lot more expensive to set up a van *properly* with the right type of equipment, than many people think.

    Regardz,
    FC.
    diode123 likes this.

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    Re: Coffee Vans

    Hi Rob,
    I was drinking some of your tasty coffee about an hour ago *:)


    Good old google turned up:

    Mobile Cafes are literally “a cafe on wheels”. Each custom-built Espresso van features an espresso machine, coffegrinder, blender, fridges, even hot water – all of which are powered by a generator concealed in the body of the van.

    Edit : FCs answer covers it (as usual *;) ) he must have posted while I was writing my post. I type fairly slowly :)

  9. #9
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    Re: Coffee Vans

    I lament the fact that when we go boating -- that spells the end of the home espressos, and its back to cafe-bought lattes and stove tops.

    My smal generator can only handle 650 watts continuous --just half the power the Silvia draws. An invertor is totally out of the question, as the battery would need to supply almost 100 amps to it (for 1 hour). No lead-acid battery can be totally discharged, or even half discharged, so for ONE solitary espresso session including warm-up, you would need several expensive deep cycle batteries. In turn, these would then have to be re-charged from their depleted state. The boat alternator is incapable of doing that ---and of course, theres no 240V for a battery charger, and no charger is capable of that capacity anyway.

    Not to mention having power cables to the inverter the size of jumper leads and then some.

    The only answer is a very heavy, bigger capacity generator, or something like the lighter-weight Honda 4-stroke, 2KVA, which costs around $2000.

    That works out at an expensive coffee, folks.

    Robusto

  10. #10
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    Re: Coffee Vans

    Spent some time looking into this line of busness and in general you have two options ..

    1: Generator that could be either Petrol or Diesel – Costs as well as the type of Van you are getting has an impact.
    a) If the Van runs on a particular fuel then the best option is to have the generator run off the same and thus you can then have the jenny’s fuel line plumbed…
    b) If different then you have to fill the jenny’s onboard fuel tank and that can lead to vapours and the potential for a fire or worse !!!
    c) The other issue is that the new Diesel units are quite, have heaps of grunt but cost HEAPS.
    d) With the right size, you can have the grinder on, a 2 group head unit pulling coffees, the fridge and a juicer etc as well as your Hot water in the sink all working at the same time.
    e) When travelling the jenny is off, so the first thing you do when you pull up is to kick the jenny over, and while you are off getting orders etc the units comes up to Temp and to pressure.
    f) The unit is usually on slide out rails – ease of servicing and removal is you need it for something else.
    g) If you are on site where there is power then you do not need it :-)


    2: Inverters – Solves all the issues re fuels etc well sort of.

    a) Usually they are a lower KVA system so you have to be a little more aware of what you need on and when. The higher KVA units cost more and you have to look at the battery system you are using.
    b) The fridge usually is kept cold via ice bricks or other heat transfer method. Up here in Brisy by midday they are exhausted and thus the drivers will stock up with ice or call it a day.
    c) You leave the Van running the whole time as you need to be charging the battery /s
    d) What you save in jenny fuel, you now use by the Van as it has to idle for most of the day
    e) You also need more or larger freezers at home to store the extra ice or condition the heat transfer medium



    At the end of the day there is no clear cut winner as it depends on a number of variables, with the important being the Health inspectors and the Main roads making a call on what configuration is OK by them.

    For me I will take the Generator for a number of reasons, some of which are best kept to myself, with the main reason being that it allows more flexibility.

  11. #11
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    Re: Coffee Vans

    Quote Originally Posted by robusto link=1143370964/0#8 date=1143463637
    I lament the fact that when we go boating -- that spells the end of the home espressos, and its back to cafe-bought lattes and stove tops.

    My smal generator can only handle 650 watts continuous --just half the power the Silvia draws. An invertor is totally out of the question, as the battery would need to supply almost 100 amps to it (for 1 hour). No lead-acid battery can be totally discharged, or even half discharged, so for ONE solitary espresso session including warm-up, you would need several expensive deep cycle batteries. In turn, these would then have to be re-charged from their depleted state. The boat alternator is incapable of doing that ---and of course, theres no 240V for a battery charger, and no charger is capable of that capacity anyway.

    Not to mention having power cables to the inverter the size of jumper leads and then some.

    The only answer is a very heavy, bigger capacity generator, or something like the lighter-weight Honda 4-stroke, 2KVA, which costs around $2000.

    That works out at an expensive coffee, folks.

    Robusto
    Hope you are like me and Frugal/ Paid $98 bucks Oz for mine and they are now $168 at BunningsUsed It ma Couple of times already and it Starts and runs.. Should have purchased 5 at that price, had the readies..
    We Have one VAN running around Coffs at this Time"Expresso"
    Black Mitsubishi Van IIRC Ill try to track him down and find out what he has and Uses!

    Tepin

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    Re: Coffee Vans

    Some Great Info there , Have a Mate who is starting the 4wd Caravan Thing and saome of this Info will be of interest to hi, Lent him my Sodering Iron and the old Primus Kit (seperate Entities) so that he can Solder His Wires up under Van..
    He Is a Retirred Marine Engineer With a Lathe so I look after him as Best I Can..
    He Also did Work For Breweries and Chicken Processing Plants (Consultant) and He keeps My Handguns tuned for me, I just have to do my bit which lately has become harder due to old age and failing Eyesght , and premature Ejaculation of Bullets..
    Tepin

  13. #13
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    Re: Coffee Vans

    Another option Ive seen is to use a gas fired boiler and hot water heater along with a Cold Plate fridge which would eliminate the biggest electrical draws allowing you to then go with the inverter set-up to power the remaining devices.

    Cold Plate fridges are commonly found on sailboats and ice cream trucks and basicly work by cooling a large chunk of metal which then acts as a heatsink to keep the fridge cool while it is disconnected from the power. They are commonly hooked up to the vehicles DC power so they can have their chill topped off while driving between locations or as needed on site.

    Java "Chilling out" phile

  14. #14
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    Re: Coffee Vans

    There are also eutectic fridges, in which a compressor freezes liquid in the insulation. The frozen liquid absorbs heat from the food and drinks until it thaws and then the compressor comes into play again.

    We are more than happy with our 3-way fridge: 240v, 12V, and LPG. It uses around 100 grams of gas a day, if that, so a 3 kg bottle lasts and lasts.

    But getting back to coffee machines where theres no mains power. The biggest power consumption by far is for heating. There should be some machine where pre-heated water (from the LPG stove) can be dumped into it. The next requirement for power is for the pump. Well, thats a trifling draw of .02 amps for the 25-seconds pull (3 amps in one hour). And a lever method would obviate the need for a pump anyway.

    Perhaps those camping accessory shops should move up a notch in class and come up with such a machine for us who like our coffee take-away.

    Robusto

  15. #15
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    Re: Coffee Vans

    Hi Team, great responses, thank you.

    I think from the above info a generator would be the way to go. I guess you would not be able to drive about with the espresso machine going as the water would slosh about and maybe bare the element and stuff it.

    Is the generator in a separate silenced compartment in this vans that were mentioned. Is there a particular brand of generators that are extra quiet.

    Sorry about all the questions, although the forums are great for getting answeres.


    regards Rob

  16. #16
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    Re: Coffee Vans

    I dont know that a coffee forum is the best place for specific advice about generators! You migh want to try some of the camper van forums in google groups.

    Good luck, Robusto

  17. #17
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    Re: Coffee Vans

    Quote Originally Posted by robman link=1143370964/0#14 date=1143700238
    Is there a particular brand of generators that are extra quiet.

    Sorry about all the questions, although the forums are great for getting answers.

    regards Rob
    Hi Rob,

    Try this site for size..... http://www.cmca.net.au/markets/marke...generators.htm. Bound to be a business listed here who could help you out with good application and acquisition advice :),

    Cheers,
    Mal.

    P.S.
    Also,
    Considering the likely duty cycle of such an installation, I would steer clear of Petrol Engine power options, Diesel is far more preferable both from the point of view longevity in service, and economy of operation. I know it has been recommended by a couple of people to run a fuel feed line from your vehicles main fuel tank to save the effort of filling two different tanks but if your van is petrol powered, then I wouldnt go down this route.

    Youll most likely receive this sort of advice from reputable retailers or outfitters anyway but just thought I would add my $0.02 worth. There are some pretty good quality Australian Made or Assembled units around too that are very competitively priced, so dont be wooed into having to go with fully imported units, we do a pretty good job too ;D.

  18. #18
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    coffee vans and power

    id just like to inform people of the factual consumption rates in the average coffee vans

    a typical van set up consisting of the following items

    coffeee machine single element * app 1500 watts
    fridge app 300 watts
    grinder app 250 watts
    pie warmer *app 1250 to 2000 watts
    blender app 200 watts
    total consumption at 50 cycle is about 2200 watts at 240 volts

    if u were to try and run this from a inverter batterry set up total battery ammparage at 24 volts needs to be at least 800 amps
    this would equate to at least 8 hours usage time and would require at least 10 hours recharge time from ur house hold power point

    heers and good luck hope this info helps

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    Re: electrical power consumption

    What about Starting Amperage for the motors, would not that significantly raise the power consumption at times, ?..
    Im thinking if for example the fridge kicks in while you are running the pump and reach over to grind another dose, not altogether that impossible in a Coffee Van..
    Should one have a Hard Start/Capacitor start modification made to the Fridge and Coffee Machine ?
    Tepin

  20. #20
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    Re: electrical power consumption

    hey great question

    and yes ur correct it does have an over all effect on consumption
    although i must say it is minimal as in compressed or inducted motor does require anything upto 7 times its continous running power to start ie a fridge motor on start up may draw upto 5000watts r more

    firstly this has been taken into account by the cyclic usage periods and also good inverters will provide a surge capacity of upto 2 or 3 times there nominated continous output wattage

    ie a 3000 watt sign wave inverter can surge to 6000 watts for a split second with out causing any difficulty to the system
    in our experience we have used two 3ooo watt inverter charger set ups very successfully

    this allows for any surge requirments and offers some head room should the operator plug additional equipment in

    hope this answers that question and cmon guys u must have harder questions than that I had a laugh

    happy to help

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    Re: Coffee Vans






    CoffeeSnob

    Posts: 10
    incorrect info # 2
    « on: Today at 12:44 » ok let me make it easier and clearer

    a typical coffee van set up would consist of the following

    1 coffeee machine with either a smaller element installed or one element disconected app 1200 - 1500 watts at 240 volts

    2 coffee grinder app 200 - 250 watts at 240 volts

    3 fridge app 200 - 300 watts when runnin and app 2500 3000 watts on start up at 240 volts

    4 pie warmer app 1250 - 1500 watts at 240 volts

    5 blender app 200 watts at 240 volts

    now u have to do the maths t work out ur cyclic usage rate

    cyclic usage rate will to soke degree be affected by ambient temps

    ie in winter obviosly the coffee machine and pie warmer will come on more feqeuntly in winter than summer

    ut as a usable figure 50 % cycle duty would be very acceptable and very close as a basic all round figure

    meaning that for every 1 hour that the pie warmer is running it may only actually be drwing power from ur system for half an hour

    same goes with ur coffee machine

    and same goes with ur fridge

    so the formula should be relativly easy to work with now


    if ur system is a total of 4000 watts combined power consumption it is acceptabe to understand that is not its cyclic duty rate there for ur power consumption in reality is half that ur rating figures

    but u still need a inverter cabable of producing the total power usage when all the equipment is running at the same time
    ie pie warmer comes on for a few mins and the cffee machine comes on at the same time now the fridge starts and u use the grinder to grind fresh coffee ,,,

    keep in mind that once the fridge and the coffee machine and the pie warmer have hit there required temps they cycle on and off hence 50 % duty cycle

    having said this i base it on the coffee vans i have seen and the equipent in them ,,,,,this of course may vary slightly with differing set ups but there would not be a huge varient

    ask me more I had a laugh
    please test my knowledge and my answers

    as i see information that is incorrect i will endeavor to post about it and explain why it s incorrect
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    Re: electrical power consumption

    Been down that road before Powerman Used my ex Bosses airless Paint Sprayer ran at 16 amps but killed most 32 amp breakers (Dynamite Brand Sprayer) ..
    Tepin
    Soft Starters are the GO..
    Tepin

  23. #23
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    Re: electrical power consumption

    Ive tried to go down that road --- but mention soft-starters to many Australian manufacturers and they dont know what youre talking about. *

    I wanted one for a small air conditioner so I could start it *and run it off my boat generator.... The manufacturers who do make and sell them were asking more for the soft starter than the cost of the air conditioner. *Circa $400-plus from memory.

    Robusto

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    Re: electrical power consumption

    Powerman may be able to help on this but from memory "it aint Zinc Dust and Sulphur-AKA Rocket Science". The less said about that 3 k high Launch the Better..
    Tepin

  25. #25
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    Re: coffee vans and power

    other posts and threads have now been combined in this thread

    We request that all comments be kept to this one thread now.....

    2mcm

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    Re: Coffee Vans

    Looked into the Inverter solution recently, to do it properly you would need something like 24 batteries weighing 30 kg each and costing around $500 each. There is a mob in Sydney who are trying to build these vans using 12 batteries but apparently this will give you only 3-4 hours if you use the batteries properly, if you try to get say 6 hours out of them they will last around 14 working months, then youre up for a new set of $6000 batteries.
    Im sticking with my trusty gennie.

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    Re: Coffee Vans

    Powerman
    In your experience using 2 3000W inverters, how many batteries (or rather what is the total ampere hour capacity) supply the average 2200W per hour and how many hours do the operators run per day ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by robusto View Post
    There are also eutectic fridges, in which a compressor freezes liquid in the insulation. The frozen liquid absorbs heat from the food and drinks until it thaws and then the compressor comes into play again.

    We are more than happy with our 3-way fridge: 240v, 12V, and LPG. It uses around 100 grams of gas a day, if that, so a 3 kg bottle lasts and lasts.

    But getting back to coffee machines where theres no mains power. The biggest power consumption by far is for heating. There should be some machine where pre-heated water (from the LPG stove) can be dumped into it. The next requirement for power is for the pump. Well, thats a trifling draw of .02 amps for the 25-seconds pull (3 amps in one hour). And a lever method would obviate the need for a pump anyway.

    Perhaps those camping accessory shops should move up a notch in class and come up with such a machine for us who like our coffee take-away.

    Robusto
    As the 12 litre water tank requires much current to heat I have thought about having the hot water on the roof by solar possibly heated by gas assisted by solar feed into the coffee machine by tap no motor. What do you think?

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    Quote Originally Posted by robusto View Post
    Must be one hell of a battery! A machine running at, say, 2400 watts, would draw 200 amps. And thats just for one hour.

    Even with a domestic machine at half that wattage, youd be looking at a one hundred amp draw.

    (figures rounded for convenience, as a 12 V battery is actually a shade over 13V)
    Robusto
    What is the minimum inverter generator as required as in kva to run a duel unit coffee machine? I would guess that it is around 3500 watts / 15 20 amps. There are some cheap inverter generators 4 Kva around $ 800? I would guess a bit small @ 3200 wts with no room for fire-up. I know there are other units such as grinders / fridge etc. But I just need to know what is needed for the coffee machine only. I could change the element to 10 amps if that would make a big difference and fire up the 12 ltr hot water by gas. Need advise from members.

  30. #30
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    I looked into a franchise van a few years back - it came completely set up and ready for use. I just went and looked at the business plan - a Wega 2 group (don't know what the quality of it might be as haven't heard of them but the coffee was pretty good) a mini mazzer, fridges, blender, filtered water tank, and a generator to power it all. I stood beside one of the vans and couldn't hear the generator at all. Seemed a good deal - 10 year warranty on the van, fully paid for up front so no ongoing franchise fees - they sell you the stock so make their money that way.

    I can't imagine trying to set a van up to use battery/inverter etc. The petrol costs would be prohibitive carrying the weight around.

    We wish we had gone ahead with it now - came to Bendigo instead chasing computer work and the State Govt cut the contracts about 6 months in... le sigh...

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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    The vans run off generators - mine ran off a Honda Invertor generator - but am just about to re purchase as my van was stolen and stripped last week, and have decided on a Yamaha - for the only reason that it is lighter. Runs my grinder, machine, a fan, blender, 3 fridges and pie warmer at a cost of $5500.
    Therese
    Last edited by thecoffeefairy; 7th December 2014 at 10:31 AM. Reason: grammar



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