About this type of business

Coffee on wheels anyone? If you’ve ever worked in an office complex or industrial estate, we all know the familiar tune of the ‘coffee man’ rolling into the car park – chances are you know him by name! Whether you’re parched or not, there’s nothing better than treating yourself to a latte and Malteser cake during work hours and you’ll often find yourself queueing for the privilege. 

A Mobile Coffee / Tea business is a great way in which to begin your barista business venture thanks to its relatively low start up cost and popularity amongst the masses.

It has certainly attracted many start-ups in the last few years, and in all sorts of vehicles! Transit style vans, Piaggio three wheelers, vintage VW campers, electric carts, golf buggies and almost every other type of vehicle imaginable – in fact, it seems the more unusual the vehicle, the more appealing it is.

The Main Advantages of a Coffee or Tea Business:

1) Low Start Up Costs

You can start a mobile coffee / tea business at a relatively small price. Ready to go packages can be bought for as little as £7,500 for a no strings attached Piaggio conversion, and can range to over £30,000 for a full blown supported franchise with a long, solid track record.

2) Coffee is a growing trend

The coffee business has really taken off in the last few years and is continuing to grow rapidly. Coffee connoisseurs will no longer accept a cup of drab, powdered instant, and want high quality, freshly brewed coffee on demand. This is only going to continue.

3) Great Profit Margins

Coffee and tea offer incredible gross profit margins of up to 95% which is what has attracted the big companies to expand at such a rapid rate. Very few other products even come close, meaning that you have the potential to make a lot of money.

4) A Year Round product

Some products are very seasonal, but coffee and tea is not one of them. We’re a nation of tea (and now) coffee drinkers, with Brits averaging 3 cups of caffeine a day. Coffee and tea give people a much needed ‘pick me up’ when they’re feeling lethargic, gloomy or simply want to treat themselves to something nice. The demand for this product will never wane. 

5) Flexibility

Many people operate a mobile coffee / tea business to fit around their lifestyle, choosing only the odd show or event. For others they choose to do it as a career; it is these that tend to operate a daily round or enjoy a regular pitch in a town centre or retail park. The great thing is that it can be run part time, during your free evenings, outside a club or on weekends at various events around the country. It’s very flexible.

Next Steps

Where do I start?

  • Do lots and lots of research

The most crucial task to carry out before leaping into action is to carry out mounds of research. You can’t go into business blindly; you need to at least have a sound idea of what to expect when you start out, what you want to sell, where you want to sell it and how you can successfully sell it. 

We realise it can be overwhelming when you’re starting out to decipher the facts from the fiction and the good experiences from the bad. Our site and Start Up Guides will help you some of the way, but you may also want to consider purchasing The Complete Guide to Profitable Catering.

  • Have a Support System in place

You will undoubtedly have many questions. Where are you going to get the reassurance that you are doing the right thing or the confidence to change if things aren’t going to plan? 

NCASS is here to provide you with the support and advice needed to make a success of your business. If you’re thinking of starting a mobile/tea business, have some thoughts but don’t know what to do next, or just need guidance on what you need to get off the ground, we’re here to help.

Our experienced account management team are on the other end of the line waiting to pad out your ideas and make them a reality. No question is too major or minor for us, so if you need an informal chat with someone in the know, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.

  • Register your business

Registering your business with the local authority of the area in which you will be trading is crucial if you are to operate legally. It’s a quick and easy process and can be done via the council’s website. Making sure you’ve got all the correct paperwork in order – from public liability insurance through to risk assessments – is one of the most crucial aspects to setting up your business. Thankfully, we’re here to help you with all of that and keep you on the right side of the law! 

  • Buy a Mobile Vehicle & Equipment

There are suitable vehicles out there for all sorts of price ranges, from fully furnished horsebox trailers and Piaggio’s, to vans in desperate need of a renovation. 

To get an idea of what vehicles are on the market currently, keep checking back on our Classified Area – a free resource available to those looking to buy or sell a mobile catering vehicle. You can also download a handy Buying Guide by clicking here.

For all of your equipment needs, head to our Store for everything from coffee machines, fridges and fire safety essentials.

  • Get your training in order

If you’re handling food and drink on a regular basis, you are required by law to undertake Food Hygiene Training. Have no fear, as this can easily be done in the comfort of your own home via NCASS Training. Here you can take a range of courses to get you up to speed, including HACCP training, fire and gas safety and Covid-19 Safety training.

Your Equipment

If it hasn’t got the CE label, don’t buy it – no matter what anyone might say. You will not get a Gas Safety certificate for it, and therefore will be operating illegally. 

Event Organisers will want to see your Gas Safety certificate and you won’t be able to trade without it. Even if you find work at small private functions, you could have some real problems with insurance companies if you ever need to make a claim, let alone with the law if you are prosecuted.

Where to Trade

Where you trade is obviously critical to the success of your business. There are a variety of different options that you can choose from, you might even operate from a variety of different locations. Below are some ideas as to where.

Shows & Events

From village fetes to week long music festivals

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Markets

Street Food, farmers markets, car boot sales

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Roadside

Lay-bys, car parks & industrial estates

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