Have you always dreamed of operating your very own coffee concession truck, cart, or wagon, and are looking for a quality used coffee concession truck or trailer for sale by owner? We have inventory located across the United States, so you can find the coffee concession truck of your dreams, conveniently located near you, without having to deal with the hassle and high pressure of a dealer.

Use the links below to browse our active listings for coffee trucks, concession trailers, or carts. Each listing contains photos, equipment lists, the location of the unit, the asking price, and other important details. Whether you’re looking for a blank slate you can customize to your own needs, or a turnkey coffee concession business, you’ll find the right inventory here. Click here to view all of our active concession listings. 

ACTIVE COFFEE TRUCK AND TRAILER LISTINGS

Visit this page regularly to view updated listings, and remember to practice basic internet safety: Never purchase a unit sight-unseen, and never send money via US Mail, wire, or internet transfer until you’ve had the opportunity to inspect the unit in person.

Coffee Concession Buyer’s Guide

wandering coffee

A Rolling Coffee Trailer.

If you’re just getting started on the path to fame and fortune as a coffee concessionaire, and you’re not sure exactly what kind of equipment you need, we’ve written a brief guide that can help you determine the type of coffee concession vehicle that best suits your needs. If you want to learn more about what it’s like to operate a coffee truck business, check out this podcast.

The biggest question you’ll need to address, is exactly how much equipment you need. In the coffee business, you probably don’t need to spend tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars on a full-blown food truck, since most coffee businesses require little in terms of equipment: You can get a basic coffee cart off the ground with little more than an enclosed trailer, a coffee and espresso machine, and the room to store inventory, including the coffee itself, as well as all of the cups, lids, stirrers, cardboard sleeves, sweeteners, flavoring syrups, and assorted creamer options.

In fact, the amount of storage you’ll need should be a major consideration: All of those coffee accessories can eat up your available square footage quickly.

Survey Results: Why Do Coffee Shops Fail? 232 Owners Share Top Reasons

For most small operations, a concession trailer or even a small cart can make good sense for most coffee startup entrepreneurs, especially if you have off-site storage available. Trailers and carts are typically much less expensive than a large step van or food truck, but do have some limits, in terms of your opportunities for expansion.

If your coffee business takes off, will you want to start offering an assortment of baked goods? Maybe the occasional breakfast sandwich or two? If your coffee cart dreams include eventually growing and expanding into other offerings, a larger investment in a larger vehicle with room to handle this expansion may make good sense.

Standard Equipment List:

coffee trailer

An example of a small coffee cart.

Whether you eventually plan to offer a full-scale self-contained breakfast solution, or simply want to stick to coffee service, there are a few “standard features” for a coffee truck, trailer, cart, or wagon that we consider essential. Look for listings that already include the following:

  • Interior lighting
  • Power inverter system to support electrical appliances including coffee machines, espresso makers, and ice makers (if you plan to serve iced coffee), with room for expansion as your equipment needs change
  • A small refrigerator for keeping coffee mixers cold
  • Some means of water service (to make coffee!), including on-board tanks or storage, or a connection to an external water source
  • Lots of interior storage, including tables and shelving, to accommodate dry goods and disposables
  • A serving window
  • Space for a menu, and/or exterior wraps for branding and advertising

In some municipalities, much of the additional equipment you might need for traditional foodservice, including 3-bay and handwash sinks, may not be necessary for a coffee cart or truck. Remember, though, that if you plan to expand to offer even basic food items in the future, these requirements will need to be met.

Check with your local health inspector to discuss your plans for your coffee cart or truck, and to find out which of these additional systems may be necessary in your area.

Electrical Considerations:

For most dedicated coffee concession trucks or trailers, fuel considerations will be minimal, since most of the equipment you’ll be running will be consumer-grade appliances with simple plug-in connections.

You do need to think about the electrical a lot with a coffee trailer. Especially if you plan to have an Espresso machine, blenders, and other standard coffee shop equipment. All of these require a lot of power and that last thing you want to happen is overloading your rig when you’ve got a long line of customers.

Related Reading: How to Start an Independent Coffee Shop on Your Own Terms

Depending on where and how you plan to set up your truck, cart, or trailer, you may be able to connect to an external power source, such as in some city parks or at large events, like local fairs or concerts. However, it probably makes sense to purchase a generator to go with your new concession unit, for those times when an external power source isn’t available.

We like the 25-30 kw generator models from Onac Cummings and PowerTech, for their combination of power, relatively low price, and quiet operating noise. Of course, if you plan to operate an air conditioning unit inside the truck or trailer (which is something of a must during the hot summer months), you may find you need to purchase a generator that can handle this type of high-load appliance.

How to Operate a Profitable Coffee Truck or Cart

Catering events are an effective way to increase brand recognition and sales.

There are a few different proven approaches to making money in the coffee business, even in a field already crowded by major corporations like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts. Because the coffee business is typically pretty high-margin, there’s room for everyone to compete in this lucrative business. Here are a few strategies to consider:

Catering and Special Events:

Coffee carts can spell big business at local festivals, food fairs, carnivals, and farmer’s markets, and not just for the throngs of attendees that frequent these types of events; you might find you make just as much money serving the travelling army of employees and volunteers responsible for setting up, breaking down, and operating the event.

My sandwich truck had one of its best days ever during the Maine Lobster Festival, not during the festival itself, but feeding the army of volunteers responsible for setting up the various tents and attractions during the five days leading up to the event.

Related Reading: Coffee Shop Startup Cost Calculator

Look for events that either don’t have an existing coffee vendor, or which can support multiple coffee operations. At these types of events, the quality and uniqueness of your offerings is going to be paramount; you may not sell a lot of cups of Medium Roast “light and sweets,” but if you can dream up a coffee creation featuring a local roaster, with attention-grabbing flavor combinations or toppings, you’ll be on the path to success in no time.

Similarly, a coffee cart can be a great addition to a corporate event, or to big functions like weddings, receptions, birthday parties, or anywhere else people congregate.

Strategic Partnerships:

anthem coffee menu

Look for mutually beneficial relationships.

One of the most lucrative avenues for new coffee concessionaires to consider is in strategic partnerships with corporate clients. A semi-permanent coffee cart stationed outside a large corporate office building or campus makes good sense for all involved.

From the company’s perspective, a favorite coffee cart or truck can be offered as a cultural “perk” to employees, while cutting down on lost productivity due to extended coffee or lunch runs by employees. Make a list of the large corporate presences in your municipality, and talk to the HR department about the potential for a spot out front or on the corporate campus.

You’ll have a built-in stream of customers who visit your coffee cart or truck every single day, and don’t have to deal with the headache of continually trying to figure out where you can place your truck or trailer.

Of course, for the privilege of operating on their property with their group of captive customers, some companies may propose a revenue split. In the coffee business, this is something you should consider; the margins are so high in the coffee business, there’s probably room to break off a percentage of sales in exchange for a sure-thing place to park and operate.

Other Things to Consider:

We haven’t covered every single aspect of getting your coffee business up and running, but we hope this brief guide will help get the wheels turning and give you an overall understanding of both how to evaluate a used coffee concession truck, cart, or trailer, as well as how to operate one for maximum return on your investment. Here are two more quick things to consider:

Get an inspection. Never purchase this type of equipment sight unseen, or based only on fuzzy photos on the internet. Remember, when you buy a mobile concession business, you are investing in all of the potential problems of a commercial kitchen, coupled with the idiosyncrasies of a used truck. Just as you would never purchase a car without taking it for a test drive, make sure you have a chance to inspect your new equipment before any money changes hands. Now’s also the time to acknowledge potential gaps in your knowledge, and bring along a trusted mentor or mechanic to assist in your evaluation.

Get friendly with your local health inspector. Remember, the health inspector shouldn’t be someone to fear; it is their job to help you operate your new business safely. Schedule a call with your local health department to discuss your idea, and find out what special equipment or considerations you may need to operate legally and safely in your region.

Whether you plan to run a small-scale cart or kiosk that services corporate clients, or a larger truck that may eventually expand into an array of breakfast food options, the coffee business continues to attract new entrepreneurs for two reasons: The margins on coffee are incredible, and the equipment needed to get started is minimal.

If you want to learn more about operating a mobile food business, check out our business plan section to see how you can create a custom plan for your coffee unit, or click here to browse our complete inventory of food trucks for sale.

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