Tuesday, January 15

The Mobile Barista (Part 2)

The Mobile Barista (Part 2)

With a few of the principles in place and a location all ready to go there were a few obvious operational problems which had to be overcome. Firstly the ability to trade is of paramount importance as if I was to compete with shops for regular trade, I had to have the ability to be open every day as they were.

Loyal customers will only remain loyal while there routine remains unbroken. Weather was always going to be my nemesis so a quick “pop up” canopy was the solution with a small area for the customers to que under. Surprisingly some of my best days were with bad weather and in the first year I was only closed 4 days because of weather conditions and that was because of high winds not snow or rain. If someone was to ask factors which assisted in my small but favourable success it would have to be this…….. As a consumer myself , would I walk past a dozen coffee shops to than turn a corner and realise your favourite spot had not bothered to set up ?? maybe once , maybe twice, then would I bother again??

Ability to trade all sorted I now had to actually get into the bones of making Coffee? this its not rocket science as you need a few crucial elements.

  • Water.
  • Power source to heat and extract.
  • Electricity for grinder etc.
  • Transportation


The water was simple, it had to be carried in tanks as did a spare one for waste ( black in colour with red lid to signify dirty water).

While on the subject this was one of the factors which steered me away from the piaggio idea, Most were 50cc engines and by the time you add water, beans, machines and a big mans wallet the idea just scared me. You can use one on a trailer I suppose but this for my thinking defeats the logic of one and the same result can be delivered with less cost just using a counter and a van.( they are cute thought)

Now regardless of what machine purchased , the water had to be transferred to that machine without pressure from a mains supply? Some machines had the ability to “suck” the water from the tank and some don’t, On my machines (Azkoyens) they did. The pump head is not designed to do this I assume but by chance it will handle this level of abuse. You can add additional devices such as 12v caravan pumps which can be integrated OR put onto the end of your inlet hose to boost but the honesty is I should have but to my shame bought one and did not fit it.

The IMPORTANT thing is to not let you pump head get dry!. The inlet hose to the tanks has to be moved and swapped and taken out to store at the end of the day and you want to keep that water inside the pump and the connecting hose, This is achieved by placing a simple non return valve to the end of you tube which normal screws into your mains water now substituted with a tank of water.(stocked at any plumbers merchant ).

Power /heat source

Machines heating elements are powered to the best of my knowledge by two sources. Either electricity or gas. I have never used gas but are sometimes the only way to operate if the circumstances dictate and many companies out there will explain. Electricity is still required as you need to power a grinder or electronic systems to operate the pumps etc .. you can extract espresso with lever machine BTW and would recommend visiting this site http://www.danny.mcnulty.btinternet.co.uk/espresso.html

If you are fortunate and selected your site wisely it may have an electricity supply already or able to utilise a source nearby. One of the factors to my location was exactly this as it cured so many problems. An alternate is to use “inverters“ which turn stored battery power into mains electricity, on inverts there my knowledge ends. This will probably power the grinder and possibly lights and are available on even eBay quite cheaply. For heating power a generator can be used and are sometimes the only alternative but some places will not allow because of smell and noise and this was the case at my location.

Machines selection is important and size of heating element comes into consideration with powering choices. My only factor was to have the machine wired to work from a 13 amp supply rather than 30amp. This should be done by a qualified person obviously. I bought all my machines from Ebay and the average cost being £600

The hardest part of the day was to set up the barrow and pack away at the end of the night. This took about 40 minutes and it all goes into and out of a large van. The wonderful thing was although I was static in essence I had the option of setting up anywhere if this spot had not worked out.

To enter into a new venture does require a little blind faith and luck and for those just about to start “I hear your pain “ but the thing that kept my sanity was at least I was having a go. The cost associated with a shop are scary indeed but doing it this way the set ups were low, most things were second hand from ebay and if it all went down the drain the worst case is that they went on sale again on ebay and I lost 20% possibly of original budget.

All said maybe its easier looking back having done ok than sitting nervously just about to start on the journey.

Good luck if you have a go.

1 comment:

Accountant London said...

Thanks very much! Great advice.