Opening a coffee truck business can be a fun and exciting venture for those who may not have a culinary background. Before you start writing your coffee truck business plan or start looking for a mobile coffee truck for sale there are a few thing you need to know. Now if you’ve already taken care of the preliminary steps, including writing a coffee truck business plan, finding great locations to operate your coffee truck, finding a dependable coffee roaster and lining up funding, the next major step is purchasing coffee truck equipment.
Purchasing high quality coffee truck equipment will offer you the highest return of any investment you put into your mobile coffee truck business. The right coffee truck equipment will help you prepare delicious, high-quality coffee drinks that will wow your customers and keep them coming back for more.
Essential Coffee Truck Equipment
After securing quality coffee beans from a trusted coffee roaster, an espresso machine is your most important coffee truck equipment investment. People don’t typically purchase plain, black coffee when they track down a coffee truck or mobile coffee cart. They want lattes, cappuccinos and mochas. These espresso-based coffee drinks are what will drive your revenues.
We recommend that you buy the best new espresso machine you can afford and learn all about its operation and maintenance. This is the life blood of your coffee truck business, your life blood. DO NOT SKIMP ON IT!
Espresso coffee grinder
Your espresso machine won’t be good for much without the proper grind of quality coffee beans. When you grind coffee, the surface area increases to expose the oils and soluble particles that give the final cup its distinctive flavor. You need grounds of consistent size to produce awesome coffee. Espresso grinders produce the fine grind required for espresso machines to work most efficiently. You will want to purchase at least two conical burr grinders (one for regular espresso beans, and a second for decaf). Make sure to set them to espresso grind.
Commercial coffee grinder
Espresso and latte drinkers will drive your coffee business in terms of revenue, but never forget the standard coffee drinker who is looking for a coffee flavored plain, black coffee.
Please note: If you are going to serve flavored coffees, you will need at least two grinders: one for plain coffee, and one for flavored coffees. If you try to grind both kinds of coffee with the same grinder, you will inevitably get traces of the flavorings (vanilla, chocolate, hazelnut, etc.) transferring to your regular blends.
Gourmet Airpot Coffee Brewer
Because you want to focus on espresso-based drinks, we recommend only one coffee brewer. Ideally, no more than 30 percent of your sales will involve regular drip coffee.
You need to find a high-quality, commercial blender with a cover for frozen coffee and espresso drinks.
You’ll need at least one commercial refrigerator placed adjacent to the espresso machine. You may also want another commercial refrigerator located somewhere else in the truck to store your extra milk.
- Water – A cup of coffee consists of 98 percent water, so water quality is critical. If your water has a high mineral content, your espresso machine will be ruined in less than a year. Test the quality of your water and, if necessary, purchase a filtration system.
- Milk – You will need to keep several kinds of milk. Whole milk has a creamy texture that most customers will enjoy in a latte, and it can be steamed nicely. But whole milk cannot be frothed, as required for cappuccino. In the frothing process, you create a “foam” made of “microbubbles.” The surfaces of the microbubbles are actually well knit proteins. Fat in the milk will interfere with the ability of the microbubbles to form. In fact, skim milk is the best milk for frothing.
NSF Certification and Permits
When opening a mobile coffee truck you will need to be inspected by your local Board of Health, who will likely inspect your coffee truck equipment before issuing the permits you will need. Therefore, you will likely need equipment that has been “NSF Certified.” The NSF is the National Sanitation Foundation. It was founded in 1944 to create and enforce certain standards having to do with safety and sanitation.
Coffee truck equipment that is designed and built for commercial use should be NSF Certified. Most equipment made for home and office use is not. NSF Certified equipment is designed and built to last for many years of high volume use.
While you may need other equipment if you plan to cook on board your coffee truck, we’ll cover those pieces in another article.