COFFEE FOOD TRUCKS
Rather than building a one-size-fits-none solution and selling you hard on that, we listen to you and your business model to design a fitting custom coffee food truck every single time.
What is your brand about? What type of coffee are you serving? Why? How experienced are you or how much help in setting up the business do you need? How are you sourcing your coffee, and to who and where are you selling it? Our discovery process walks us through that journey together to find the perfect fit for you.
MOBILE COFFEE TRUCK INSPIRATION
Just because we build custom coffee trucks made to order doesn't mean we can't show some great previous builds and pre-configured units! We want to give you an inspiring idea and show you what’s possible for different coffee truck concepts, what to keep in mind, and how they can be specced out. We showcase some of the most successful and impressive builds in the next section.
STEP VAN COFFEE TRUCK
Whether you want a full mobile cafe with all the options you can imagine, a big freight liner, or a Chevy step van food truck, Karpatia Trucks can help. Offering a wealth of space built on a highly durable workhorse, having this much space allows you to go either way – traditional diner style “you can have any coffee you want as long as it’s black” percolator and drip coffee or serve a wide array of modern coffee options.
Using an older step van as the base, these models can come in at surprisingly affordable price tags when we calculate your build. If you serve only coffee, many of the food truck code requirements are less stringent, meaning no triple sink and exhaust. Planning ahead does mean installing them, and if budget allows, we do recommend it.
COFFEE TUK TUK
Serving coffee from a Tuk Tuk or Piaggio Ape has several distinct advantages. They are super cute, highly mobile, allowing you to get indoors or outside where there’s limited space for a big rig, and being outside the truck gives you much more direct contact with and feel for the customer.
Many customers find it important that their coffee is locally or sustainably sourced and they are buying from a green, environmentally conscious company. Chances are YOU also think this is very important and will go to great lengths to either source locally from a local roaster or go even further and source direct from a sustainable grower.
We offer a premium road legal electric tuk tuk that is not only good for the environment, but also great for your margins with the exceptionally low operational cost. The units do cost more than a regular tuk tuk but are well worth it.
A possible downside is not all counties will let you vend coffee in this, or at least not get a food truck license for it, so we need to check and confirm this with you. It is also not a usable set up in the snow or rain.
VINTAGE COFFEE TRUCK
A major part of upselling specialty coffee is what they call in the trade the “retail brand experience”. In simpler terms, this is why there’s a greeter at Walmart and stores do taste tests.
Selling from a quality vintage food truck or specifically a citroen hy food truck has its retro charms and putting those to work for you provides exactly this experience. Your coffee is already special purely through the point of sales. Having a real European vintage truck simply suggests that Italian espresso you’re getting is that much more genuine too.
Many vintage coffee trucks are used as a display or fixed service point as it is certainly the easiest and cheapest option. Karpatia also restores vintage food trucks in mint condition. Pricing a vintage restoration is always very situational as old-timers will have uniquely different sets of problems.
The price vs. a step van can be a pleasant surprise as these are usually vintage European food trucks that we export to the US. The majority of the work can be done at lower labor costs in Europe too without lowering the quality.
A major consideration vs. a step van is that the square footage is substantially smaller, and although price points are similar the lead time is multiple weeks more because of the amount of work involved.
COFFEE TRAILERS FOR SALE
COFFEE CONCESSION TRAILER
Karpatia makes all types of custom concession trailers – from 7ft and up to 50ft. A small box trailer is a great way to get in to the coffee business with a practical amount of space and a low investment.
Easily pulled on a regular driver’s license, your boxy kiosk can be the morning go-to, especially if we apply some creative decor to the paneling or wrap of the trailer. About as basic as a cart, the Roundtop Coffee Trailer can keep you dry while you test out if being in the coffee business is right for you.
AIRSTREAM COFFEE TRAILER OR DINER TRAILER
You can upgrade your style by going from a regular concession trailer to a brand new or vintage airstream concession trailer instead. Airstream’s classic, sleek silver bullet style is simply hard to resist as you walk by.
There are a few extra considerations when converting an Airstream travel trailer to a concession unit. It will take extra time as refurbishing is more labor intensive than building from scratch, and it can not be customized to the same degree a box concession trailer can.
You get a lot of looks in return though, making all the time and investment worth it.
TO BREW, DRIP, OR PERCOLATE
Coffee trucks generally offer a healthy margin on every cup sold and you can add increased overall margins to that as there are little to no losses from spoilage. That is a healthy percentage margin.
Many food truck parks and festivals will serve their own drinks and restrict sales strictly to food vendors, excluding your coffee truck. Plus these events are generally lazy weekend destinations or popular on Friday afternoons and some weekday evenings. Crowds will be in a mood for street food and beer, not necessarily quality latte art.
Your sales as a coffee food truck operator are going to be mostly from morning rush traffic, office workers stepping out for coffee, and being booked for specialty events as the corporate, or wedding, coffee option.
Thinking about the balance between quality and uniqueness on one hand and volume and speed on the other is a must and will depend on your location. Being able to sell a $7 coffee with a $5 margin is great unless it takes you so long that multiple other would-be-customers drop out of your line on the corner.
If you are inside a corporate lobby though, that wait time is usually appreciated (by everyone except the manager).
SOURCING YOUR COFFEE
You can get coffee anywhere – from Costco to Costa Rica. As setting up a food truck business is plenty difficult and time intensive as it is, you should have the sourcing of your coffee down well before you start or you need to outsource it. If you want to source directly from a grower you will spend months looking for the right one. Justifiable time to invest in your coffee quality and brand story, but not something you can do when you have to get up at 05:00 AM every day.
An alternative can be to find a great, small local roasting company near you or other coffee brand that is new to your market and reach out to them. Oftentimes they will even sponsor some of your inventory and if your sales are really picking up or projected to shoot for the moon, they may even foot the bill for some of the equipment.
Lastly, if sponsored inventory and equipment sounds like a dream come true and hiking through the jungle to find the right farmer does not, you may be more inclined to approach a major brand in the coffee space and ask them about their options for helping set you up as a new mobile point of sales for their coffee.
USED COFFEE TRUCK VS. NEW
Four major differences between new and used food trucks are price, layout, quality of the vehicle and a builder warranty.
For a coffee food truck this is no different except that the layout and investment in the interior design of a coffee truck are generally a more modest expense than other food trucks, barring you don’t install any expensive espresso machines. Even then it usually does not total to as much as a BBQ or burger truck would!
That means you can work with a pre-owned unit more easily as the flow or layout are not that unique, and even new equipment is plug and play instead of being bolted in to place.
Similarly the code requirements of a food truck differ from state to state, but are generally lighter on coffee food trucks and so you can more readily buy a used truck and have less of a risk of it requiring thousands in upgrades to get it to your local code standards.
BUILD OPTIONS AND SPECIFICATIONS
A lot of thought goes into planning your coffee food truck. You can think ahead and consider some of the important aspects mentioned below to get started and can use this list as a cheat-sheet when comparing our quote and the level of quality and detail with any other custom food truck manufacturer you requested an offer from.
Concession Windows – What size do you need and where? One or two windows? Glass quality?
Exterior Service Counter – What material and what size? Do you need to put up displays on it?
Cabinetry – How much space do you want inside, what material do you want, and what type of door?
Wall Covering – Stainless steel or vinyl? What color do you like?
Insulation – Will regular insulation do or are we shipping to Alaska/New England/Arizona?
Flooring and Floor Drains – Diamond plate aluminum is our standard, but we have multiple higher grade options.
BELLS AND WHISTLES –
Worktables – Stainless steel as a restaurant kitchen, or heavy stained oak like a coffee shop?
Fridge and freezer models and space.
What size clean/grey water tank and heaters? What do you want, need and what is mandated?
Triple sink and handwashing sink size requirements.
Necessary AC / heating options and air curtains.
EQUIPMENT OPTIONS TO CONSIDER
Espresso machine or big percolator? What kind? How many?
Ice bins? Fridges, freezers, blenders?
Any specialty coffee options or add-ons you want to sell alongside the coffee that need their own equipment?
Karpatia does high-quality, certified electrical work as well. You do not need to think much about power at all when ordering, except to tell us what you want to put in that coffee truck and we will work our way back from there for you.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT COFFEE TRUCKSLearn more in our knowledge center ►
Yes, we ship to Hawaii. Extra rates apply.
Yes, we ship to Alaska, although extra rates apply.
Containers go everywhere, and all units can always be shipped to the nearest port. We might not have a local forwarder in your country (yet) though, in which case we will find one together with you.
We will gladly export your vehicle to Canada but need a little more cooperation with you to get it up to local code than we would for US customers.
If you do it right – yes. Food trucks and concession trailers are some of the most profitable small businesses you can operate without very specialized skills. Latte art is optional.
It all depends on your product and the effort you put in to the business. Go out there and grind every day and you’ll be selling like hot cakes – or hot cups I mean.
There are literally hundreds of food truck builders.
so why karpatia?
Karpatia provides one of the best quality-to-value ratios in the industry. From 100% made in the USA, to high end European classics and authentic conversions, we can do it all.
With Karpatia, you have a near endless amount of options. We will provide you with the best kitchen equipment and customizations such as full body wrap or painting. Working with us is fast and easy!
We also provide additional services to help you get started – from financing to food truck websites. We want to see you succeed, which is why we offer many options in hopes it will help your business be successful.
WHAT TYPE OF COFFEE FOOD TRUCK IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
Click below to request a quote and start the process.