How to start a mobile coffee business

If you have a passion for coffee and enjoy working with the public, a mobile coffee business can be an enjoyable way to earn a living. This business provides hot and cold coffee drinks at festivals, private events, company functions, wedding receptions and outdoor gatherings. Because you do not need shop space, the costs of starting and operating a mobile coffee shop business are lower than starting a traditional coffee shop. Income varies according to location and marketing, however, a mobile coffee business can generate annual average sales of around £50,000.

Register your mobile coffee business with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. If you are the only employee of the business, you can register as a sole trader, which requires little paperwork and is cheaper than registering a limited liability company.

Obtain a food licence from your local council. You must register every premises where you carry out food operations, including your home and temporary or mobile premises such as stalls and vans.

Buy a mobile cart or van with a compartment for storing coffee and flavouring syrups, as well as a refrigerated compartment for storing milk, cream and whipped cream. If you plan to serve iced drinks, the cart should also have a freezer compartment for storing ice; however, you can buy portable coolers for ice and dairy products instead to reduce the cost of your cart. Basic carts start at about £1,950; however, you may be able to save money by picking up a used cart.

Determine how you will transport your cart to events. Small carts may fit in the back of a van, while larger carts come with a trailer that you can tow with a car or van.

Buy a supply of cups, insulating cup holders, coffee, espresso, flavouring syrups and coffee stirrers.

Get heavy-duty extension cords to power coffee pots, espresso makers and blenders.

Print brochures showing the types of coffee drinks you serve, as well as your availability. Include contact information so prospective customers can call or email to book you.

Contact local businesses to enquire about setting up your mobile coffee business to provide coffee drinks during employee lunch breaks.

Advertise your mobile coffee business in local newspapers, alternative papers, local notice boards, online classified ad sites and local websites. If your budget permits, advertise on local television and radio stations, billboards and park bench signs.

Contact local event and wedding co-ordinators in your area and provide them with brochures for your mobile coffee shop business. These professionals can help build you business and supply you with steady work by recommending your services to their clients.


Place a stack of brochures on your mobile coffee cart when serving guests at an event -- this can help generate referral business to keep your schedule full.

Things You'll Need

  • Coffee cart or van
  • Cups
  • Insulated cup holders
  • Coffee
  • Coffee filters
  • Espresso
  • Flavouring syrups
  • Coffee stirrers
  • Extension cords
  • Coffee pots
  • Espresso machine
  • Blenders
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About the Author

Owen Pearson is a freelance writer who began writing professionally in 2001, focusing on nutritional and health topics. After selling abstract art online for five years, Pearson published a nonfiction book detailing the process of building a successful online art business. Pearson obtained a bachelor's degree in art from the University of Rio Grande in 1997.