Espresso Yourself: 8 Essential Steps to Starting Your Own Mobile Coffee Shop

mobile coffee shop: close up of barista's hands as he pours milk into a swirling design atop a coffee drink in a mug

Are you considering joining the ranks of food truck nation? 

With rising rents and the unpredictable cost of operating a storefront, many entrepreneurs have chosen to take their business on wheels. Not only are mobile businesses more cost-effective, but they’re also incredibly appealing to today’s clientele. 

If you’re thinking of starting a mobile business, you’re certainly not alone. The food truck industry has seen 12.5 percent growth in the last five years alone. As the years continue to progress, we only expect this number grow. 

While the majority of food trucks today focus on serving food, others have chosen to focus on something a little different. In fact, one of the most sought-after mobile businesses today is centered upon serving beverages such as coffee. This is a creative way to serve your caffeine craving customers without having to operate from an official storefront.

If you’re considering taking your business to wheels, you’re going to want to read this. We’re uncovering the seven essential steps to starting your own mobile coffee shop. 

1. Establish Your Budget 

First and foremost, you’re going to want to begin by establishing a strict budget. 

While the cost of the mobile vehicle itself is the most prominent cost, it’s also important to consider other factors. For example, you’ll want to consider the cost of routine gas money, maintenance, insurance, cost of materials and paying your staff. 

In preparing your budget, it may be worthwhile to work with an accountant. This will ensure that you’re acting responsibly and following proper tax guidelines. 

2. Register Your Business

Next, it’s time to officially register your business. 

This is what makes your operation one that is both official and legal. Of course, the license requirements will vary state-by-state. 

The cost and structure of your registration will depend on the ownership structure of your business. For example, if you are the only owner, you can register as a sole proprietorship. However, if you share ownership of the company with someone else, you will have to attain a different registration. 

3. Attain the Appropriate License 

Just as you’re required to register your business, you’re also required to obtain a license for your business. 

If you’re going to be serving any type of food or beverage, that will require a specific license. This is not something that can be avoided and can result in significant trouble if ignored. 

Fortunately, these licenses are generally inexpensive and relatively easy to obtain. 

4. Purchase Your Mobile Vehicle 

Now, it’s time for the fun part! 

You have your business registered and you have obtained your license. It’s officially time to purchase your mobile vehicle!

Remember, this is the vessel which your entire business will operate from. Not only does it have to look good and feel good, but it also has to function as a standard coffee shop. In order to rival your competition, you need to ensure that you’re offering the same quality drinks despite your physical limitations. 

You will want to carefully consider the layout of your mobile coffeeshop interior. A lot of this will depend on what types of drinks you plan to make, and whether you plan to offer food or not.

If you’re going to offer drinks with espresso, like lattes, americanos or macchiatos, you will need an espresso machine. If you want to have drip coffee, you will need enough industrial sized coffee makers to keep up with the number of clientele visiting your shop. Think your guests will want smoothies or frozen coffee drinks? Those will require space for blenders.

Offering food adds a whole other dimension to your business, but it also means you will need more space inside your truck for food at various stages. Some of these could include prepping stations, cooking appliances, and warming cabinets.

5. Do Your Product Research

You probably won’t be very successful at running a mobile coffeeshop if you don’t actually know anything about coffee. If you are already a coffee connoisseur, you are one step ahead. If not, you will want to do your research.

Look into the latest technologies and techniques that will make your coffee the best. Find coffee roasters who will produce quality beans with great flavor. Practice tried and true mixed coffee drink recipes, and then experiment with making your own if you want something unique that will stand out from the crowd.

6. Gather Your Materials 

Once you have selected your vehicle and done your product research, it’s time to focus on the materials that are going to make up your business. 

Although small, a mobile coffee shop is going to require the same goods and materials as any regular coffee shop. To start, be sure that you have these materials ready: 

  • Bean grinders for both espresso and drip coffee
  • Quality coffee beans
  • Other coffee ingredients such as cream, sugar and flavored syrups
  • Disposable coffee cups and lids
  • POS system 

Once you have these essential materials, you can move onto the next step. 

7. Hire Your Staff

Now that you have your wheels and your material, it’s officially time to begin hiring. 

In terms of numbers, the size and structure of your mobile vehicle will determine how many staff members you require. As compared to your standard store, a mobile business typically requires fewer staff members. In fact, the average food truck employs just 2-6 people in total. 

Because you will be hiring fewer staff members, it’s extremely important to focus on hiring quality and dedicated members.

You may want to seek employees who have firsthand experience in working in a mobile environment. This will help to minimize your overall turnover rate for employees who cannot handle a small-scale working environment. Finding candidates who have experience working in a coffeeshop will also be helpful, otherwise new staff may require more extensive training.

8. Commence Your Marketing 

Last but certainly not least, it’s time to begin marketing your new business venture. 

Of course, the majority of business marketing is now conducted online. To ensure that you have a dedicated online presence, you can start by setting up various social media pages on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or other platforms. This will allow you to engage with future customers and better establish your brand. 

You can also speak with local business owners to spread the word and establish community connections. From here, you can look into advertising on community bulletin boards as well as local newspapers, magazines, and radio stations. It will also be important to find local events and festivals where you can get more concentrated exposure for your new mobile business.

In terms of timing, it’s best to begin your marketing prior to your official opening. This will help to create a sense of excitement amongst your clientele and generate anticipation for your grand opening. 

It’s Time to Open Your Mobile Coffee Shop! 

If you’ve always dreamt of starting a mobile coffee shop, it’s time to make your dreams a reality! 

In opening a mobile coffee shop, you don’t have to worry about the realities of having an actual storefront. Instead, you can narrow your focus to what matters the most: serving the best coffee possible to your customers. 

Fortunately, there are many ways to customize your mobile kitchen which will help your mobile coffee shop run smoothly. Even with limited square footage, these tools will allow you to create quality coffee that rivals your competition.

With these features, opening your own mobile coffee shop doesn’t have to be a distant dream. Contact us to find out how you can make your dream a reality today!