Starting a mobile coffee cart business can be a fun and profitable small business venture. A wide variety of manufacturers offer mobile coffee carts in various styles and configurations, with some offering entrepreneurs the opportunity to customize the cart to their particular needs. Decisions regarding power options for a mobile coffee cart should play a major role in the design or purchase of any cart. Power options and availability can dictate how and where the cart can be operated, as well as factor into the cost of cart operation.
Propane can be used to power the heating and brewing elements of a mobile coffee cart, as well as provide some options for lighting. Portable propane tank storage can be designed into the coffee cart configuration, with consideration for extra tanks as well. Propane tanks can be refilled at various hardware and outdoor centers, with some locations offering a tank swap program. The cost to fill a consumer-sized propane tank is usually under $20.
Operating a mobile coffee cart with an electric generator can expand the operating range and location choice for the cart. Gas-powered generators come in many sizes and configurations, some even offer quiet or "whisper" mode that significantly reduces engine noise. Generators can be attached directly to the cart or operated from a nearby location, depending on the situation. Eliminating the need for a physical external power connection, a generator-powered mobile coffee cart can be operated from nearly any location.
Some mobile coffee carts operate from the same location on a regular basis. In these cases, setting up a physical power utility connection can be a simple and economical choice. Carts designed to run on full electric power are configured with power input connections that tie the cart directly to the power company outlet, via extension cords. This option provides a constant and reliable source of power for the cart that does not require refilling or external equipment.
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When considering power options for a mobile coffee cart, owner and customer safety should always be considered. Issues such as location, weather and environment should be carefully factored into the choice of power supply. For example, if the cart will be operated in an open area, running long extension cords to a power outlet could present a hazard. With gas-powered generators and propane, cart owners should ensure proper ventilation to prevent noxious gases or exhaust from endangering customers.
Jeff O'Kelley is a professional photographer and writer, currently based in the Tampa, Florida area. His images and words have been featured by websites and publications such as CNN, Creative Loafing and Tampa Bay Times. O'Kelley holds associate degrees in telecommunications and website design from St. Petersburg College.