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Thread: Coffee Trailer - any suggestions.

  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Coffee Trailer - any suggestions.

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi,
    I am new to Coffee Snobbs and seriously considering buying a Coffee Trailer to test the water with. I read a post from some time ago from geoffro78 and was wondering if he went ahead with his venture and if so how he went with it.
    Is anyone else selling from a trailer and what are your thoughts or any other advise from members greatly appreciated.
    I will be operating in a small to medium town about 100 Kims from Newcastle NSW that has a lot of events all year round.
    At first plans are only to do events and if successful (fingers crossed) go full time.
    One of the trailers I am considering is from My Coffee Van this can be seen on their website.
    Any suggestions appreciated.
    :D

  2. #2
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    Re: Coffee Trailer - any suggestions.

    An expensive way to "test the waters with" if you dont mind me saying. Do your homework.

    Check out how many others are already doing this in your area and consider whether your idea is a goer or not. ie amount of competition. It can get very very nasty out there....

    Are you looking for a hobby atleast at first. If so, do you consider spending all day, or 2 or 3 days at events working, to be the right kind of hobby for you?

    Do you then consider the cost of investment to be worth it, if it doesnt pay off. Or is that not a consideration for you?

    These are serious considerations.

    If you are looking to make legitimate income, whether it be a supplement to a regular job or because you need to provide yourself with a job, is it worth doing ( cost / benefit analysis)?

    Also consider if you make it a success, you will become tied to it and there is no going back or you will lose your clients. IE, your regulars rely on you, and if you decide to back off, they will fill your slot will immediately and you wont get it back, so do also think of the serious nature of the responsibility you are taking on or it wont work ie....your level of committment. Trying to find helpers or a "manager" when you want to take time off or go on vacation, can be very difficult...unless you ahve come to some kind of amicable arrangement with another van owner where you can help eachother out.....

    Consider this type of business lends itself to your employees easily scamming you by putting your income in their pocket....so you will need to be there virtually all the time its is a very onerous committment if you want to make it work, do it for a couple of years intensively until youve had enough, then sell ( if you can) and go to something else.


    Good luck.

  3. #3
    Senior Member sidewayss's Avatar
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    Perth, Western Australia.
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    Re: Coffee Trailer - any suggestions.

    Hi Maverick.

    I am also in the process of an extensive research for a mobile coffee business at the moment.

    Have looked at both the trailer and the coffee van/ute options.

    Have also looked at the franchised and independent options and have spoken to a accountant as well as other people who have advised me using their time and i am very thankful for that.

    Personally, first of all, you need to have a serious passion for all things coffee. With passion comes success. This is true for all business ventures. This is why we do it in the first place. The passion.

    Have you got any experience in the coffee industry as a barista?

    If not, have you done any work experience, or done a comprehensive barista course?

    Ok, now i have asked that question, i can offer you what knowledge i have gained so far.

    Trailers, designed for static operation. Not suited for the weekday run around to industrial, factory scenario. Poor parking ability. You would have to park on the street and run your coffee with money change into the buildings which will keep you fit, but will drive you crazy under varying weather conditions and traffic hazards, not to mention the time wasted taking orders and then running back and
    forth. Thought id throw that in in case you want to consider weekday work anywhere.

    Weekend trailer work is great if you want to supplement your income with your regular weekday income.
    You will need to do your homework.
    Go to several events and note how many vans and trailers catering to those events. Speak to the council and event organizers and get their input of supply and demand. Note down what events running in that town and the areas around it. Look at schools and sports clubs.
    They may hold sports and carnivals/fetes etc which may suit the trailer.
    Have a look at markets, if any.

    Make sure you have a trustworthy and communicating partner working with you. One to take orders, one to make coffees. You cant make coffees and take orders by yourself when theres an event and theres a line of customers wanting coffees at the same time during intermissions.
    Look at what you need for set-up.
    Gazebo, tables, en-croutes, extra storage for milk, soft drinks, cups/lids, food.
    The trailers fridge and storage space is not enough, and you will need to back everything up at the car, close enough for easy access.

    Then theres the business side. Low investment ($25,000-$35,000), but would take the same time to pay off compared to a van/ute. Earnings can wildly fluctuate depending on availability and type of events. I have been on a couple of rides with a seller who easily cleared $2000 each time, but he said these big ones only come once in a while.
    Talk to a banker and accountant.

    If youre fine with a trailer and just doing weekends, then consider it.
    With a coffee van/ute, you can work the weekday run, and also do weekend events. Something to think about.

    Its a simple business model compared to say a stand alone cafe, but do the research, and do take your time. I am.

    If theres no competition in that town, youre in with a chance. All the best.* :)

    Gary at G
    simonko likes this.

  4. #4
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    Re: Coffee Trailer - any suggestions.

    Thanks guys, appreciate your input. No its not to be as a hobby, just want to start out small and make sure we like it, and if so go full time, yes it is an expensive way to test the water but if you never try youll never know. For the initial period, if there is a mid week event, we can take a day out of our annual leave.
    No Gary we dont have any experience in a similar business but have been in sales and customer service for 30 odd years and need a change out of the industry Im in, understand it gets very busy at events but hopefully our communication and connectivity is up to it.
    I have been doing investigation into events and existing vendors and there dont seeem to be any other LOCAL coffee vans, there is one that comes from out of area for events, if she bothers to turn up.
    As for van vs trailer have thought (and still are) about this considerably but for the area where in the trailer in the industrial areas is not an issue as there is plenty of room and there will be no need to leave the trailer as the customers will come out to you.
    Storage space, noted, hadnt thought enough about that with the trailer I was considering, might have to consider something larger.

  5. #5
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    Re: Coffee Trailer - any suggestions.

    Hello Maverick,

    My 2 cents.

    A trailer and a van are two different animals. A van for events or markets is inefficient, if you are working out of the back.

    Look at as many trailers as you can. Work flow is very important. Its the difference between a good day $$ and a great day $$. As well as your physical wellbeing, elbows knees and back.

    In my experience buying a van or trailer is easy. Finding good venues is the trick.

    Do your research. Business plan. Know exactly how many coffees etc it will take to break even or make a profit etc.

    A lot of people get into carts, and $2000 sounds like a lot. But* time before and after setup, time during the week, super etc and $2000 does not go very far.

    Really think hard.

    Just my 2cents. We have been doing coffee carts for 5 years. We were lucky and learnt from a guy with a great setup.

    Martin.

  6. #6
    Senior Member mwcalder05's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Trailer - any suggestions.

    Hey Maverick, just adding my personal experiences with a coffee cart. In terms of being a barista, being at home and making coffee for your wife is one thing but is a whole different ball game when you have customers in line waiting for a coffee.

    If it does kick off, maybe think about chatting to a couple of people who have experience in this area of actually making the coffee. However, call me crazy but there is no feeling compared to when your smacking out great coffees and everything is flowing well! Some of the most rewarding parts of this industry are these moments and plus, youre making good money.

    Hope this helps!
    Happy trails,
    Mike

  7. #7
    Junior Member Ozecard's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Trailer - any suggestions.

    Hi Maverick.

    Live the dream! As with any new venture, there will be hiccups along the way, but if you are determined to make it work, from experience it usually does.

    We also explored the trailer/van route and ended up buying and converting a high roof van (Ford Transit) for a variety of reasons. Like others have mentioned, trailers can be very space restrictive, and both trailers and tailgate servery type vans are dreadful in bad weather. With a high roof van (with wind-out awning) you can make and serve in all weathers, while in the comfort of a warm, insulated van!

    While the coffee van is purely a weekend/special event business, it has been successful enough for me to consider retiring from my full time job. Our secret has been to offer a brand of coffee not used in any other cafe in our area, and to keep the prices realistic.

    Good luck with your venture. Its a great way of meeting nice people and making a bob or six.


  8. #8
    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Trailer - any suggestions.

    Something not mentioned yet is your local council.

    Check, double check and then get something written down. Councils can change their mind pretty quickly on the requirements of a mobile food van (work surfaces, fridges, washing and waste facilities etc) and where it is allowed to work.

  9. #9
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    Re: Coffee Trailer - any suggestions.

    Thanks everyone for your thoughts and ideas, have taken all on board and still considering options.
    Ant further thoughts greatly received. ;)

  10. #10
    Senior Member sidewayss's Avatar
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    Re: Coffee Trailer - any suggestions.

    Hi Maverick,

    Let us know how you went.

    Am sure we including myself will read with interest the progress of a fellow Coffeesnob mobile coffee business adventure. :)

    Due to work commitments, mine should start to take off late next year, which means i have lots of time to do my homework ;D

    If you have any questions or need any info, drop a line and we will help. Some members here have existing mobile coffee businesses and they can help in any way.

    Gary at G

  11. #11
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    Update

    Hey Gary,

    Did you manage to get this business going? Looking into it at the moment and would love to hear your story? BTW great reply!

    Kenneth


    Quote Originally Posted by sidewayss View Post
    Hi Maverick.

    I am also in the process of an extensive research for a mobile coffee business at the moment.

    Have looked at both the trailer and the coffee van/ute options.

    Have also looked at the franchised and independent options and have spoken to a accountant as well as other people who have advised me using their time and i am very thankful for that.

    Personally, first of all, you need to have a serious passion for all things coffee. With passion comes success. This is true for all business ventures. This is why we do it in the first place. The passion.

    Have you got any experience in the coffee industry as a barista?

    If not, have you done any work experience, or done a comprehensive barista course?

    Ok, now i have asked that question, i can offer you what knowledge i have gained so far.

    Trailers, designed for static operation. Not suited for the weekday run around to industrial, factory scenario. Poor parking ability. You would have to park on the street and run your coffee with money change into the buildings which will keep you fit, but will drive you crazy under varying weather conditions and traffic hazards, not to mention the time wasted taking orders and then running back and
    forth. Thought id throw that in in case you want to consider weekday work anywhere.

    Weekend trailer work is great if you want to supplement your income with your regular weekday income.
    You will need to do your homework.
    Go to several events and note how many vans and trailers catering to those events. Speak to the council and event organizers and get their input of supply and demand. Note down what events running in that town and the areas around it. Look at schools and sports clubs.
    They may hold sports and carnivals/fetes etc which may suit the trailer.
    Have a look at markets, if any.

    Make sure you have a trustworthy and communicating partner working with you. One to take orders, one to make coffees. You cant make coffees and take orders by yourself when theres an event and theres a line of customers wanting coffees at the same time during intermissions.
    Look at what you need for set-up.
    Gazebo, tables, en-croutes, extra storage for milk, soft drinks, cups/lids, food.
    The trailers fridge and storage space is not enough, and you will need to back everything up at the car, close enough for easy access.

    Then theres the business side. Low investment ($25,000-$35,000), but would take the same time to pay off compared to a van/ute. Earnings can wildly fluctuate depending on availability and type of events. I have been on a couple of rides with a seller who easily cleared $2000 each time, but he said these big ones only come once in a while.
    Talk to a banker and accountant.

    If youre fine with a trailer and just doing weekends, then consider it.
    With a coffee van/ute, you can work the weekday run, and also do weekend events. Something to think about.

    Its a simple business model compared to say a stand alone cafe, but do the research, and do take your time. I am.

    If theres no competition in that town, youre in with a chance. All the best.*

    Gary at G

  12. #12
    Senior Member sidewayss's Avatar
    Join Date
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    Location
    Perth, Western Australia.
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    Hi Kenneth.
    Thanks for the kind words.
    At this point in time due to family concerns, I am still in the specialty coffee cafe industry (and enjoying it) as well as supplying roasted coffee beans.
    The extensively researched and thought out mobile coffee business is on the drawing board at this stage until circumstances change.
    Will suggest you do a lot of homework in your area and what you are capable of.
    It,s still the same for anything in the hospitality industry. Great product, great service, remember your customers, and a degree of niche.
    As for franchises, they suit those who dont have much experience as they will train before guiding you to the territory with a business building manager to build client base.
    Best rewards and freedom come from independent operators. You are free from franchise fees and product restrictions and get better returns if done right. This really suits those who has experience (with lots of experience with consistent correct technique) in working in the coffee making business.
    Dont be fazed by those who will knock you back for any reason, but do listen to them.
    When you do take the plunge, you will make mistakes. Everyone does. It,s what you learn and overcome that sends you on the path to success.
    Feel free to ask more questions regarding your dream.
    Dimal and simonko like this.

  13. #13
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Posts
    3

    Trailer fit out

    Hey Martin.
    I'm following this thread from Toronto, Canada.
    Just about to set up a Teardrop Trailer The Teardrop Trailer
    Perfect hatch for those rainy days and has plenty of storage and a customizable rear end.
    The coffee cart/trailer market over here is WIDE open.
    I think there's 2 other Retro vans here.
    The down side is that is does get cold here, very very cold, but only for 4 months of the year.

    What I'm struggling with is the fit out.
    Looking at a Cummins Genni 6,000 watts, but am thinking that a smaller power unit may suffice.
    Hoping you could shed some light on the subject if you have time.

    Matt (an Aussie living in Canada)

  14. #14
    Member nathanharley's Avatar
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    Perth
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jetfuel View Post
    Hey Martin.
    I'm following this thread from Toronto, Canada.
    Just about to set up a Teardrop Trailer The Teardrop Trailer
    Perfect hatch for those rainy days and has plenty of storage and a customizable rear end.
    The coffee cart/trailer market over here is WIDE open.
    I think there's 2 other Retro vans here.
    The down side is that is does get cold here, very very cold, but only for 4 months of the year.

    What I'm struggling with is the fit out.
    Looking at a Cummins Genni 6,000 watts, but am thinking that a smaller power unit may suffice.
    Hoping you could shed some light on the subject if you have time.

    Matt (an Aussie living in Canada)
    Matt if i could have my time again, I would have gone with a leva operated machine, possible gas fueled to reduce generator capacity, being "green" is a good selling point too, not to mention having a genny clunking around (I have a 6.5kva "Silent" Honda Inverter and it still does my head in) gets annoying, fueling up, fumes and servicing are a pain too. My advice source alternate power, at least significantly reduce power requirements. Best of luck. Nate



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