What Should You Know About Mobile Coffee Before Starting?

Running a mobile coffee franchise involves weaving your business life around other people’s work breaks, and for people with the right mindset and work ethic, can be incredibly rewarding.

Free from the confines of spiralling property prices and expensive overheads, mobile coffee vans are a great way to get great coffee straight to the people who need it, sparking conversations and connections in the process.

After all, not every office is based in a major metropolitan area, and there are always people who need a pick-me-up on their morning break, at lunchtime and in the afternoon.

Generally, the people who would be best served serving fresh coffee to a motley crew of customers will already know if it is the right life for them

If essentially running a coffee club with an engine is appealing, if they are great with people, if they have a passion for coffee beans, and they are willing to put in the hard work, a career in mobile coffee might just be perfect for them.

But before anyone commits to buying a van, starting a franchise or investing in one of those really sleek cafetierés, here are some important aspects you need to know.


It Pays To Explore Your Options

Before you make any commitments, buy a van or buy any equipment, take a walk or drive around your local area and take notes (mental ones if you are driving, of course) on where you notice groups of people travelling around and where a supply of fresh coffee is nowhere to be seen.

You may find a spot that flares up your imagination; plenty of industrial estates are miles from decent coffee.

Once you have confirmed that this is the future you want, it’s time to consider the most suitable options for establishing your business. You could buy a van yourself and convert it, buy a ready-to-go coffee van and run it independently, or become part of a franchise. Each has its pros and cons but we believe that becoming a franchise partner outweighs the rest. 

Besides anything else, the franchise you are buying into will often do the research on potential coffee stops for you, essentially finding your customers before you have even begun.


You Get Out What You Put In

This is an essential fact to know in two important respects.

The first is in terms of your budget; whilst initial startup costs are relatively low compared to some other businesses, it is essential to have enough money to get your business off the ground and contingency plans to prepare for any eventualities and setbacks.

Practically all new businesses will have a first year or two that will feel like a blur as a new mobile coffee shop owner juggles their owner, accountant, marketer and barista hats, all whilst getting used to their new routes, breaking the ice with new customers, networking and making amazing coffee.

As you build yourself up and establish your mobile coffee shop, you need to make sure you have the financial runway to ensure you can weather those first few months if they do not go as well as you hope.

The best way to do this is to set up a business plan of your expected initial starting costs, budget, expected monthly costs and how much it would cost you to run the business for that first year or two. At Really Awesome Coffee, we have a dedicated team of development managers who will do the heavy lifting for you.

Not only is this useful information to have to hand, but it can also be the difference maker when enquiring about business loans with banks, as they are more likely to lend to you if it seems like you have a sensible idea of where their money is going.


The Legal Stuff Is Important But Easier Than You Think

One of the big worries new small business owners have is the complexities of registering their new business, but in practice, it is not as complex as you may think.

Basically, if you are going it alone with your mobile coffee business, you have the choice of setting up a limited company, which would make your franchise a separate company to you personally, and you pay corporation tax, or setting up as a sole trader.

A sole trader is the easier way to set up a small business up to a certain size if you do not plan to employ anyone else, and you can switch to establishing a company if your circumstances change.

However, in practice, a limited company provides better security and more options for the future, especially if you plan to expand, so registering as a company early helps you adjust to the change quicker.

After this, you need to make sure you have a driving licence for your mobile coffee van and a food business licence with your local authority. Again, going down the franchise route will often mean a lot of this stuff is taken care of for you.


Your Brand Has Just Three Ingredients

When running a mobile coffee van, marketing is a hugely important part of success, especially since you do not have a rigidly defined space and will regularly move around.

A mix of word of mouth, social media and carefully curated advertising will go a long way, but a lot of people new to mobile coffee have a tendency to overthink their marketing efforts.

Ultimately, only three parts of your coffee business matter to your customers and therefore should be the three aspects you prioritise most.

Your van is the most prevailing icon of your coffee vending, and whether you opt for a vintage campervan look, a sturdy and dependable land rover defender or something more exotic and stylish, it will make an immediate impact when you arrive on the forecourt or street corner.

Your coffee is the most important part in the long term, as marketing matters right up until that first sip. If you serve fantastic coffee at a good price with a winning smile, you have a customer that will not only come back but tell their colleagues and friends.

The final ingredient is yourself. You are the face that will welcome customers, enquire about their day and make small talk as you fire up the barista equipment. If people like you and how you treat them, they will respond in kind.

Really Awesome Coffee has been serving up coffee from our eye-catching coffee vans since 2010. With over 100 vans on the road, we are an unmistakable force in the mobile coffee market, and the perfect partner to help you realise your dreams.

Essential Tips And Tricks For Setting Up A Successful Coffee Van Business

Owning a coffee van can be an exciting and fun venture that can give you the freedom to travel and earn money and attend many different events while sharing your passion for coffee and your barista skills.

In this article, we cover the common aspects that you will need to have in place in order to successfully run an independent coffee van business. 

If you would like a fast track to success consider a coffee van franchise from Really Awesome Coffee, the UK’s leading mobile coffee network.

The first step to starting any business is to create a solid and realistic business plan. This will outline your goals, a timeframe for achieving these goals, a marketing plan and projections for finances and engagement in the future.

By creating this plan you have a basis to build a business and have clear steps outlined to hold yourself accountable. This gives you a framework to work from should you encounter any issues or find yourself unsure of the next steps.

Once you have a solid plan and you have the finances to begin the journey, you will need to think about purchasing a coffee van. If you have no experience in converting vehicles, you may wish to source your van from a company that specialises in coffee van conversions.

This will ensure the van is in full working order and ready to go and will help to make sure you do not miss anything important or encounter any issues straight away.

Make sure you research the equipment you will need and invest in quality pieces that will last you for a long time. This can be costly and you will want to ensure you have equipment that will not need to be replaced too soon.

Once you’re all set up, you can begin your marketing campaign. There are many ways you can boost interest in your coffee van business and encourage people to buy from you over competitors.

Creating an online presence that is engaging, interesting and fun is a great way to get your business noticed.

Sourcing local ingredients, offering unique drinks and giving a friendly, personable experience to each of your customers is a great way to entice people to buy from you and also encourages customers to return.

Make sure you communicate with customers and create targeted and informative content that is easy to digest and looks good. This will catch the eye of customers and make them more likely to visit your van.

Don’t forget to attend a range of events and functions, market yourself as the best coffee van in the country and build up a great reputation. The more you get out there, the more you will be noticed and your business will blossom.

It may take time, but with hard work and dedication, you can build your single coffee van company into a fleet of well-respected, well-loved coffee vans and take your business on the road to success.

At Really Awesome Coffee, we have been helping people start their own coffee van business for over 12 years. From providing a state-of-the-art, fully kitted-out Mercedes coffee van to finding your customers to arranging the finance, we have you covered!

Tracking the Cost of a Good Cup of Coffee

One of the first things you normally do when setting up a coffee van business is work out a projected income, which means you need to decide what you’re going to charge people for their morning brews. 

Thankfully, at Really Awesome Coffee we do the heavy lifting for our franchise partners and provide a price list for them. However, it’s still worth having a look at the changes in coffee prices in recent years to understand how we price our americanos, lattes, and macchiatos and how we stack up against the competition.

Takeaway coffee prices have soared lately, having increased by 22 per cent between August 2021 and July 2022 alone at some venues. 

The Guardian reported that a small espresso at Starbucks had shot up to £2.20 over the course of 11 months, while a Pet a Manger medium cappuccino rose to £3.05 . 

Although this seems a lot for small coffees, increasing prices have meant Brits expect to pay more and more for their favourite drinks. 

In fact, a Sunday Express investigation recently found certain coffees at Costa can now be as much as £6.65 when choosing extra shots, different milks, and luxury toppings. 

Even the basic drinks, however, are typically between £3 and £4. 

The coffee chain is not on its own, as Starbucks charges £6.15 for a large latte with an extra shot of coffee, whipped cream, caramel drizzle and cinnamon dolce syrup. 

Caffe Nero, another huge coffee retailer, sells a grande cappuccino with two shots of espresso, coconut milk and vanilla syrup for just slightly less at £5.95. 

While these seem steep for a caffeine kick, some people even pay up to £28 for their coffee in London. Despite the sky-high price, there still seems to be a target market for pricey coffees such as these. 

In fact, according to Nescafe, us Brits cannot do without our coffee, even if it does cost us a small fortune. 

Although we are famous for our love of tea, we still collectively drink 95 million cups of coffee a day, with this having increased from 70 million in 2008. 

Lots of people do make their own instant cups at home, but many, including commuters, office workers, and travellers, pick up a latte or flat white regularly. 

Statistics even showed that 80 per cent of coffee shop consumers drink coffee out at least once a week, while 16 per cent visit their favourite cafe or coffee van every day. 

According to the figures, Brits spent £4 billion in high street coffee shops in 2020. However, this is likely to be substantially higher these days, thanks to surging prices. 

Despite this, demand does not seem to have abated, and it remains one of the luxuries many people are clinging on to, as they just can’t recreate their favourite blend at home. 

Although prices will vary depending on location, size of drink and extras, coffee sellers can be confident they can price their goods competitively and still see return custom. 

The Golden Rule Of Running A Successful Coffee Franchise

When a lot of people are looking for small-scale businesses to run, setting aside industries, market sectors and organisational structures, typically they can fall into one of three categories.

The first is to take part in a business that they do not have any passion for but know is a worthwhile endeavour and can ultimately pay the bills. These sorts of businesses can work as a side hustle or self-employment opportunity but ultimately the grind can take its toll.

The second is a passion project and a labour of love that brings a lot of satisfaction and a person can pour their heart and soul into, but also one that can take a lot of time to get off the ground, often far more time than an ordinary person with a life and family can afford to risk.

However, there is a potential third option, one that is less of a shot in the dark compared to starting a business based on a passion project but also one that fulfils that same role of being the perfect business for the right type of person, and that is joining up a franchise.

Being part of a network of successful businesses such as coffee franchises can through these numbers provide a more secure platform and set of resources to start and successfully run a small business.

However, whilst a franchise is a solid investment that creates a platform that can help you succeed and give you advice on planning, sourcing, preparation and ultimately serving fantastic coffee wherever you are needed, ultimately there is one golden rule that separates success from failure.

You have to have passion for what you do.

Whilst the unnamed “old timer” that Professor Arthur Szathmary was quoting when he mentioned the idea that you never work a day if you find something you love to do was not entirely right, it is true that passion will make every single working day worth it.

Ironically, you will likely start your franchise working harder than you may have ever done before, but passion will give you that boost to get off of the blocks with an extra spring in your step, will uplift you when times are tough and will make the best of times feel a little bit sweeter.

Passion also helps when it comes to business resilience. After all, people fight hard for their dreams, are often reluctant to give up at the first sign of choppy waters and are rewarded when their dreams ultimately fight for them.

Passion is what makes you source the best beans, find the best mixes, and ensure that you do the utmost to add an extra spark of joy to each customer’s day and get an extra spark from them in return.

It is essential to have passion, but it is also at the same time important to recognise that passion alone is a very intense emotion, and it needs to be balanced by hard work and being cognisant of the facts surrounding your endeavours to ensure you do what is right for your business in the long term.

What Are The Bonuses Of A Coffee Shop On The Go?

Nobody goes into the coffee business unless they love their daily caffeine hit, but as well as the aroma, taste and kick of their morning brew, there is lots more to love from a mobile coffee franchise – perhaps even more than running a traditional coffee shop.

Lower costs

One of the biggest pros has to be the lower costs involved in mobile coffee vans, in comparison with a cafe that requires rental fees, energy bills and indoor seating. 

With a mobile business, there are no overheads, such as rents, so franchisees can keep more of their profit. 

Unsurprisingly, there is a lower cost of entry too, so you can expect to pay thousands of pounds less to run a franchise of a mobile coffee van as opposed to a store from a big chain. 

During the cost-of-living crisis, entrepreneurs are less likely to want to completely empty their bank account investing in a franchise, so being able to sign up to a business while still keeping some cash at hand is a much preferred option. 

Location, location, location

The risk of having a bricks and mortar cafe is that business owners are totally reliant on the location and its passing traffic. Therefore, having a premise you can’t move around poses a bigger risk. 

However, a mobile van means you can follow the customers wherever they may be. 

Moving to different sites throughout the day adds an element of variety to work and, as the adage goes, ‘variety is the spice of life’. By being able to move around, see different people and be in varying locations, you will never get bored. 


Another benefit of having a coffee van franchise is that coffee fans can hire you for their functions. This gives you the chance to be part of special events, including weddings, corporate do’s, or family gatherings, which is always a nice feeling, as well as benefiting from the income generated by large crowds at sporting events, festivals and trade shows.

Having the opportunity to target different people and events in one day is certainly not something you’d be able to do if you ran a cafe, which can often be quiet at various points during the day. 

What Was The First Ever Coffeehouse?

Coffee brings people together, and this is doubly true for a mobile coffee franchise, which lives to serve fantastic, high-quality coffee wherever people need it.

Whether served on the way to work or during breaks, coffee is the third most popular drink in the world of any kind, behind only water and tea, and some people simply cannot imagine starting the day without a hot cup.

However, unlike tea, which has existed for at least 5,000 years as a drink, or water, which has existed as long as the earth itself has, coffee is a relatively more recent brew. 

Whilst coffee trees have existed for a long time, the first brewed cup of coffee is around 600 years old and it quickly changed everything.


From Ethiopia To Yemen

The origins of the coffee tree before people knew about its unique properties are unclear other than it originally came from Africa and that the first coffee plants that were domesticated were based in Harar, West Ethiopia.

From there, it found its way into Yemen at some point in the 15th century according to accounts from historians and chroniclers of the era, although exactly how it did varies depending on which historian is asked.

The earliest account claims that Ali ben Omar al-Shadhili discovered coffee whilst staying in the region of Adal briefly, and he introduced it to Arabia, where it quickly spread throughout the Middle East to Egypt, Iraq and Türkiye.

According to historians who specialise in the history of the Middle East and the Ottoman Empire, this is seen as the more plausible story, compared to other popular legends such as the goatherd Kaldi in the ninth century spotting his energised animals chewing on the plant. 

Once its invigorating properties were discovered, it started to be widely used in religious rituals, particularly at sunrise and sunset, but the cultural effect coffee had would not stop there.


The Social Drink

Coffee has a reputation now for being a drink that brings people together, and in the 14th century Damascus, this was almost literally true when the first “qahveh khaneh” (coffee house) appeared.

Almost as quickly as it was discovered, coffee became a drink that was independent of class or caste, meaning that coffee houses became popular social hubs for all kinds of different people.

Its effect was so dramatic that it became known as the “Fourth Place”, after the home, workplace and mosque.

People gathered to drink coffee and chat with their friends, but they would also play chess, gamble on backgammon, chat and gossip about the news or the day’s events and even say potential scandalous or critical words without being scared of potential punishment.

As well as this, storytellers of both the fantastical and religious varieties would regularly form groups around them eager to hear their stories or listen to music.

Modern coffee shops and mobile vans that have live performances and vibrant conversation are following a tradition that spans hundreds of years and played a pivotal role in reducing the barriers between different people in society. 

Why Mobile Coffee Bars Represent A Good Investment

If you are dreaming of opening your own café you may have spent hours sitting at your computer researching the best ways to get started. Coffee is the lifeblood of our world and is a great business to get into, but owning a store is an entirely different ballgame.

Luckily, there is more to coffee than meets the eye. A mobile coffee van is a fantastic option for those wanting to get their venture up and running without having to settle the details of finding, constructing and finetuning a café.

There are many advantages to owning a mobile coffee bar over a traditional physical store as well which make it even more appealing. Versatile, far less expensive and with many more options for expansion and growth, mobile is the way forward.


Lower Costs

Setting up any new venture can be costly but running a business from a building requires significant investment. Mobile coffee bars have far fewer initial costs and are therefore a more cost-effective option.

This makes them perfect for businesses that want to branch out but don’t have the means to fund rent, an entire renovation project and an army of staff.

There are also far fewer overhead costs. When owning a shop, there are ongoing costs such as maintenance, rent, utilities and staffing which will take up the majority of your business’s income.

With a mobile coffee shop, your business expenses will be far fewer which will therefore give you the financial room to grow and expand as and when your venture takes off.


Mobile And Flexible

The clue is in the name of this advantage. Mobility gives you the freedom to go wherever you want! If you run your store from a fixed address you are stuck there, whereas owning a mobile coffee van allows you the flexibility to go wherever your heart desires.

This enables you to cater to a much larger audience and attend a wide range of events such as festivals, markets or celebrations.

This can help to generate more interest in your business, enables you to reach a much wider audience and therefore can boost sales and make your business all the more successful.

It also gives you the opportunity to travel and experience much more of the industry than you would be able to if you stayed in a shop. This gives you the ability to build a wide and varied customer base with people from a range of different industries and events.

This can give you the boost you need to build business connections with others both inside and outside of the industry and can help you expand and grow much faster.

Overall, the advantages of using a mobile coffee van over opening a fixed physical shop can benefit your business financially, enable you to have more freedom and flexibility and help you to build a franchise which is well known, mobile and able to accommodate much more than a store.

Why Coffee Makes For Tasty Business!

There’s nothing quite like going into business for yourself and there’s a huge amount to be said for being your own boss, giving yourself the freedom to keep your own hours and to do something you truly love.

But which industry to consider setting up shop in? Which sector is particularly welcoming for small businesses and startups? If these are questions that you’re currently asking yourself right now, you might want to consider what opportunities exist for you in the wonderful world of coffee.

As hot beverages go, coffee is perennially popular and it’s an incredibly versatile product that can be tailored to suit a wide range of different demographics, so you’ll find you have an endless stream of customers flocking to you day by day.

Although the UK has built up a reputation for itself as being something of a tea-loving nation, it seems that there has been a change in the water over the years and it’s now one of the biggest coffee-consuming countries in Europe.

Figures from the British Coffee Association show that in 2021, us Brits enjoyed an impressive 98 million cups of coffee each day, up from the 28 million cups consumed in 2008… so there’s certainly a slice of a rather sizeable pie up for grabs.

In terms of initial outlay and investment, you can also start your new venture off relatively quickly without the need to find a bricks and mortar store by taking your drinks on the road and providing customers with a mobile coffee bar

Carrying your business on your back means there are endless opportunities for exposure and diversification – and you’re sure to enjoy your job even more if you’re not tied to one spot. Being able to take your products to where the customers are will prove invaluable and, before you know it, you’ll be the next big thing on the coffee-drinking scene.


Want to find out more about running this kind of business? Get in touch with the Really Awesome Coffee team today to see how we can help you make your dreams a reality this year.

Chris Kamin – Really Awesome Coffee Bridgwater

Chris Kamin Really Awesome Coffee Bridgwater

On his third attempt, Chris finally retired from his role of 30 years as a head teacher. This was made easier with the lure of a shiny new toy – a Really Awesome Coffee Mobile Cafe!”  he said.

Here he tells us more on how it has been going since he launched his Really Awesome Coffee van in Bridgwater.


Please tell us a bit about yourself and what you were doing prior to becoming a Really Awesome Franchisee?

In education for 30 years as a teacher, Headteacher. Moved to Somerset from London, married Jools – have two daughters (at University and Year 10)


Why did you decide to run your own business and why Really Awesome Coffee specifically?

My wife Jools  and I toyed with the idea of a Coffee/Tea shop many years ago but the onset of major Coffee chains put us off. Bizarrely, Jools was sat in a Costa and saw a van outside, she called me and we started our Franchise story from there!


Tell us a bit about your training at Head Office and your business launch.

Training was fantastic – learning is in my nature and this was all new. We felt like part of a larger family and was made very welcome. Very nervous during the launch but good support has allowed me to grow in confidence.

Customers love the idea, love the coffee and generally look forward to a visit.


How have you found the ongoing training and support?

Everyone has been brilliant and always at the end of a phone.


What is the most invaluable piece of advice you could give someone looking to invest in their first franchise?

Don’t just do something, find what you want to do then go for it!


If you would like to find out more about franchising with Really Awesome Coffee and enquire about our exciting franchise opportunity, call us on 0800 043 0271, send an email to enquiries@reallyawesomecoffee.co.uk or book onto one of our upcoming Virtual Discovery Presentations here.