Ideal espresso machine for a mobile coffee cart

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
godofgwar

#1: Post by godofgwar »

Hey there - Doing lots and lots of early research and planning for a mobile coffee cart business in San Francisco.

(FYI, I'm not really looking for advice on whether or not this is a good business idea, as I'm doing ample planning for that. I want help with the tech and power.)

To the point: I'm trying to figure out the best machine to run in a cart setting. Ideally, it's a steady stream of people getting milk-based drinks. I'll power it from what will most likely be one or two Honda series gas generators - Honda EU2000, Yahama, or similar.

I'd love to run GS/3 strictly for the small size, nice DB performance and 110V. Price is obviously a factor, pushing $7K. Price aside, does anyone have any experience running this or a similar machine from a generator? That generator would also have to power a grinder and a refrigerator, and most likely a hot water heater, so keep that in mind.

I have lots of experience on a LM Linea 2, as well as several HXs. Currently, I have an Elektra T1 at home, and while it's a beast of an HX, the thought of running it in a cart setting serving drink after drink doesn't appeal to me. I'd much rather have DB machine, no cooling flushes, stabler temp, etc.

Thanks much,
-Chris

Al deHyde

#2: Post by Al deHyde »

There's a street setup in Raleigh, NC that seems pretty slick. Uses a gas-fired boiler in a dual-lever Astoria 'Gloria.' Address is coffeeshaw.com. Just an idea/alternative which might reduce your generator requirements significantly.

godofgwar (original poster)

#3: Post by godofgwar (original poster) »

Interesting. Will definitely check them out.

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another_jim
Team HB

#4: Post by another_jim »

A single group is a non-starter for any commercial operation. A double boiler machine is usually less energy efficinet than an HX. Gas powered boilers would certainly solve you energy problems (if the local codes allow it)
Jim Schulman

godofgwar (original poster)

#5: Post by godofgwar (original poster) »

So does that mean they run on propane? I'm leaning toward going the generator route because the transition from generator to electric makes it much easier to run indoors for events. That said, I will do some research on the gas boiler route.

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Clint Orchuk

#6: Post by Clint Orchuk »

You can run a 2 or 3 group lever off of propane and won't need electrical power. If the groups are massive and dipper fed, they're temperature stable and you won't need to mess with temperature. Big boiler will steam lots of milk drinks if you keep an eye on the sight glass and use the manual fill.

Grinder(s) run fine off a deep cycle and and an inverter. If you need a hot water dispenser, that's another story. With a generator, you'll need to deal with noise, fumes, and gas. Might turn some consumers off. Good luck.

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doubleOsoul

#7: Post by doubleOsoul »

Glad you clicked in Clint. I was gonna suggest he call on you based on your set up from last summer at the farmer's market.

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HB
Admin

#8: Post by HB »

Al deHyde wrote:There's a street setup in Raleigh, NC that seems pretty slick. Uses a gas-fired boiler in a dual-lever Astoria 'Gloria.' Address is coffeeshaw.com.
Some background information from Espresso Van Project:
HB wrote:I thought of your comment today while sampling the espresso at Raleigh Coffee Shaw:





The espresso machine's boiler is heated by propane and the grinder is powered by an RV battery with power inverter. It has an autofill circuit to keep the boiler topped off and built-in driptray drainage into a hidden 5 gallon bucket. Despite the blustery wind conditions, he pulled a very respectable double espresso. His mobile kiosk was right next to the main downtown rickshaw stop; thanks to the propane heater and lever espresso machine, the grinder is the only noise. The coffee was roasted by Joe Van Gogh; the blend was simple chocolates and roast notes. I bet it would make a killer cappuccino, but when I went back a few hours later, he was gone
Dan Kehn

godofgwar (original poster)

#9: Post by godofgwar (original poster) »

This is great info, thanks. I am coming to understand why there are very few espresso carts out there. Working the power specifics is going to be tricky.

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allon

#10: Post by allon »

godofgwar wrote:So does that mean they run on propane? I'm leaning toward going the generator route because the transition from generator to electric makes it much easier to run indoors for events. That said, I will do some research on the gas boiler route.
You can use propane outdoors and electric indoors. They aren't mutually incompatible.
LMWDP #331