Coffee is a critical part of the daily routine of many Australians. Owing to that, starting a coffee van business in the country remains a viable option for any willing entrepreneur.

These businesses are usually situated around parks, stadiums and sports centers, airports, seaports, shopping malls, railway stations, bus stations, campuses, and other public facilities. It is also a relatively low investment business, especially if you have a small budget and want to start small.

Steps to Start a Coffee Van Business in Australia

  1. Conduct Market Research

Note that one of the vital things to do when looking to start a coffee van business is to carry out detailed market research. You must know what to expect when you are starting your business, what and where you will sell, and how you can successfully sell your coffee.

You will also need to conduct market research on potential target areas to operate in. The most profitable locations are areas where there are loads of people that walk a reasonable distance to get a coffee and something to eat.

a. Who is the Target Market for a Coffee Van Business?

According to industry reports, at least 46% of Australians consume coffee. When it comes to those under 18 years old, this number drops to 4.5%, for people within the age range of 19 to 30, it is 34%. In terms of those around 31-50, 63.4% drink coffee, while for those within 51-70, 64.2% and for those over 70 the rate was 66%.

b. Is Coffee Van Business in Australia a Profitable Business?

Yes. When started and managed well, a coffee van can generate substantial income and provide you with the financial life you want. Coupled with lower startup costs and operational costs, numerous other non-financial benefits come with starting a coffee van business. Lifestyle and flexibility are just two common personal benefits.

c. Are There Existing Niches in the Industry?

In Australia, there are a variety of coffee van concepts to choose from. They may include;

  • Coffee/Food Trucks
  • Trade-In Packages
  • Truck Canopy Fit-Outs
  • Luxury SUV Fit-Outs
  • Citroen H Van
  • Kombi Coffee Vans
  • Coffee Trailers
  • Large Vans
  • Corporate Activations
  • Gas Conversions
  • Coffee Carts
  • Piaggio Ape
  • Coffee Utes
  • Walk-In Trailers
  • Compact Vans
  • Walk-In Vans
d. Who are the Major Competitors?
  • Xpresso Mobile Café
  • Lava Carts
  • Custom Coffee Vans
  • Xpresso Delight
  • Jim’s Mobile Café
  • The Coffee Guy
  • Cappuccino Xpress Coffee Vans
  • Cafe2U
  • Hart’s Coffee Cart
  • Very Melbourne Coffee Van
  • Coffee Addiction Mobile Coffee Van
  • Perth Coffee Express
  • YahavaKoffee Van
  • Zumo Mobile Coffee Van
  • The Big Coffee Van
  • MyBarista – Sydney Mobile Coffee Catering
  • Clive’s Mobile Coffee
  • Van Wild Coffee
  • Common Ground Coffee Van
e. Are There County or State Regulations or Zoning Laws for Coffee Van Business in Australia?

Yes. When looking to start a coffee van business in Australia, it is recommended you first look at the existing laws and zonal regulations in the state or council you reside in. Every council is different, so you need to understand if there are restrictions, fees, or anything else that may be required of you.

It is always a good idea to call your local council and have a chat with the food and health officer. Also leverage that opportunity to ask questions concerning where you can and cannot operate, the approved distances to be kept from competing cafes, etc. You will also need to research other regulations relating to your coffee business including;

  • Hygiene policies
  • The size of the cart and the equipment needed
  • How to handle, store and prepare the products
  • The street vending rules
f. Is There a Franchise for Coffee Van Business in Australia?
  • Lava Carts: From $180,000
  • Xpresso Mobile Café: $122,500 + Gst
  • Fibonacci Coffee: From $100,000
  • Hudsons Coffee: From $350,000
  • Degani: $125,000 – $650,000
  • Fields: $180,000 – $247,000
  • Coffee Club: $450,000 + Gst – $750,000 + Gst
  • Cafe2u: From $136,000 + Gst
  • Xpresso Delight: From $59,900
  • The Coffee Guy: From $44,000 + GST
  • Jim’s Mobile Café: On Demand
g. What Do You Need to Start a Coffee Van Business in Australia?
  • Business plan and menu
  • Adequate budget
  • Licenses
  • ABN
  • Truck
  • Equipment
  • Reliable supplier
  • Marketing and sales plan
  1. Choose a Memorable Business Name

When looking to start a business, before you can begin to file the necessary documents with the constituted authorities or start your website, it is necessary that you come up with a name that you will be recognized with. It is essential that the name you come up with can easily be pronounced, is unique and easily memorable.

Some of the catchy business name ideas suitable for a coffee van business are;

Creative Coffee Van Business Name ideas
  • Everyday Café
  • Coffee Shuttle
  • Espresso Lane
  • Quick Coffee Shot
  • Neighborhood Brew
  • Espresso Perk
  • In Motion Café
  • Cafe Slingers
  • Brown Roasted Cart
  • Easy Coffee
  • Daily Shot
  • Espresso Coach
  • Prime Beans
  • Cafe Mobile
  • Ultra Coffee Station
  • Autobus Coffee
  • Formula Café
  • Taste Bud Rides
  • Nevada Coffee Hut
  • Drinkers and Bakers
  • Marathon Coffee
  1. Register your Business

a. What Type of Business Structure is Best for Coffee Van Business in Australia?

When it comes to choosing a business structure for your coffee van business in Australia, have in mind there are many ways to structure a business. Nonetheless, you should register your coffee van business as a Company.

A company is a business structure where liabilities stay with the subsidiary; unless the parent company gives guarantees or the subsidiary trades while insolvent. Companies are registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and will have an assigned Australian Company Number.

b. Steps to Form a Company In Australia
  • Choose a Company or Business Name
  • Choose Your Company
  • Choose Your Shareholders and Directors
  • Choose Your Share Structure
  • Choose the State/Territory To Register Your Company In.
  • Complete the Relevant Paperwork or Online Form
c. What Type of License is Needed to Open a Coffee Van Business in Australia?

Note that this will vary between states and territories; therefore it is recommended that you consult with your local council for guidance. As a general rule, you will need to register for an Australian Business Number (ABN). This is a unique number that allows you to trade in Australia.

You will also need to register your business and apply for a license from your local council. Your van or truck will have to be registered, and you will also need a valid driver’s license. If you wish to operate in other local government areas, you’ll need to obtain the appropriate licenses.

If your coffee van will also sell food, including meat, dairy, seafood, or plant products, then you will also be expected to obtain a food license. Note that all food-related businesses are mandated to display a food license or a copy of the license in an easy-to-see place.

d. What Type of Certification is Needed to Open a Coffee Van Business in Australia?

With an increasing number of citizens venturing into the coffee business, you’ll not want to lag behind your peers. Note that many training centers in Australia offer in-depth and affordable training in the area of your specialization. Top centers and associations to consider include;

  • Australian Barista Academy
  • Australian Barista School
  • Barista Basics Coffee Academy
  • Australia Specialty Coffee Association
  • Coffee School
e. What Documents are Needed to Open a Coffee Van Business in Australia?
  • Business Plan
  • Insurance Policy
  • ABN
  • Online Terms of Use (if you have a website)
  • Online Privacy Policy Document (basically for online payment portal)
  • Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration for trucks
  • Appropriate driver’s licenses for drivers (Commercial driver’s license (CDL)
  • Proof of ownership, proper identification, and vehicle license
f. Do You Need a Trademark, Copyright, or Patent?

No. Applying for intellectual property protection in this line of business will be a waste of time and resources as there is no need to protect your recipe. However, if you feel there is a need to protect your company name, logo, slogan, or any other material, you can contact an experienced IPP attorney to help you apply for an IPP.

  1. Do your Cost Analysis and Budgeting

a. How Much Does It Cost to Start a Coffee Van Business in Australia?

The cost of starting a coffee van business will most definitely depend on several factors that can add up quickly. For instance, the cost of the van or truck, providing power and installing equipment, your chosen menu, and the type of service you wish to provide will impact the cost of starting your business. Howbeit, you can start your coffee van business at a relatively low price – around $16,000.

b. What are the Costs Involved
  • Legal expenses for obtaining licenses and permits: $100 – $350
  • Coffee van/truck/cart: $10,000 – $25,000
  • Insurance (general liability, workers’ compensation if applicable): $1700
  • Operational cost for the first 1-2 months: $1600
  • Initial stock costs ( 1-2 months): $700
  • Incidental costs (cups, lids, plates, napkins, foil, straws, etc.): $2000
  • Marketing promotion expenses: $2000
c. What Factors Determine the Cost of Opening a Coffee Van Business in Australia?
  • Type of Vehicle
  • Equipment
  • License and Permits
  • Branding, Promotion, and Marketing Plans
  • Insurance
  • Supplies and Ongoing Expenses
  • Equipment
  • Cost of Recruiting and Training Your Staff
d. Do You Need to Build a Facility?

No. One very notable benefit of a coffee van is that it’s mobile, and this entails that you can take it anywhere. If you are considering multiple locations, it is pertinent you have a consistent weekly schedule so that you’re at the same location at the same time every week. Note that this will ensure you build up relationships with your customers, and they’ll know precisely when you’ll be back in the area.

e. What are the Ongoing Expenses for Running a Coffee Van Business in Australia?
  • Fuel
  • Insurance
  • Marketing supplies
  • Utilities
  • Cost of Ingredients
  • Staff salaries
  • Equipment maintenance
  • POS/Inventory software service
f. What is the Average Salary of your Staff?
  • Manager: $32,860
  • Business development specialist: $30,750
  • Food technologist: $29,480
  • Barista: $28,660
  • Drivers: $22,440
g. How Do You Get Funding to Start a Coffee Van Business in Australia?

There are numerous loans you can apply for to finance your food truck business. Note that not all types of funding will align with your business. Comparing business loans can help you find a source of business funding that suits your needs. Your options include:

  • Secured business loan
  • Unsecured business loan
  • A business line of credit
  • Equipment finance.
  • Peer-to-peer business loan

5. Write a Business Plan

a. Executive Summary

Easy Coffee is an exciting coffee van that will service customers across Newcastle, New South Wales. We will work with well-trained staff to bring fresh food and coffee to people working in densely populated industrial, technology, and general business precincts.

Our adequately trained mobile coffee operators use the finest ingredients to hand-craft every beverage. From our premium blend espresso coffees to our non-coffee alternatives there’s something on the menu for everyone and we’ll make it exactly how you like it.

b. Products and Service
  • Cappuccino
  • Flat White
  • Café Latte
  • Café Mocha
  • Espresso
  • Piccolo
  • Long Black
  • Macchiato
  • Hot Chocolate
  • Chai Latte
  • Iced Coffee
  • Iced Mocha
  • Iced Chocolate
  • Fruit Frappes and Smoothies
  • Extra Shot of Espresso
  • Syrup Flavoring- Vanilla, Caramel, and Hazelnut
  • Whipped Cream
c. Mission Statement

Our mission at Easy Coffee is to always provide the highest quality products and services. We will steadily work to satisfy our customers’ wants and needs.

Vision Statement

Our vision at Easy Coffee is to operate first-class coffee vans around the Newcastle area taking care of all the coffee needs of residents and being available at events or high foot traffic locations. As we are a coffee van service, we bring premium fresh and locally roasted coffee straight to you.

d. Goals and Objectives

We are committed to delivering a first-class coffee experience anywhere, anytime. Our fully trained coffee van operators use the finest ingredients to hand-craft every beverage. From our premium blend espresso coffees to our non-coffee alternatives there’s something on the menu for everyone.

e. Organizational Structure
  • Manager
  • Business development specialist
  • Food technologist
  • Barista
  • Drivers

Marketing Plan

a. SWOT Analysis
Strengths
  • Strong gross margins
  • Easy Coffee’s online presence on different social networking sites and organized social media management
  • Assorted coffee products
  • Leadership and management skills
  • High quality
  • Convenience
Weaknesses
  • Need to recruit all new staff and provide training
  • Venturing into an already existing market
  • The time it will take to build our brand
  • Inventory spoilage
  • Inadequate vans
Opportunities
  • The emergence of e-commerce and social media marketing
  • Projected growth in the population
  • Moving with the current social and lifestyle changes
  • Bringing healthy drinks to the market
  • Acquire brand new technology around the market
Threats
  • An increasing number of direct and/or indirect competitors
  • Weather changes
  • High barriers to entry
b. How Do Coffee Van Businesses in Australia Make Money?
  • By selling cups of coffee directly to customers
  • By renting their cart to clients with an open bar business model
  • Combination of the above business models
c. Payment Options
  • Payment via bank transfer
  • Payment with cash
  • Payment via credit cards
  • Payment via online bank transfer
  • Payment via mobile money transfer
d. Sales & Advertising Strategies
  • Throw an opening party to let locals know you’re open for business;
  • Engage in community events to sell your products;
  • Advertise your products in community-based newspapers, local TV and radio stations;
  • List your business on local & online directories;
  • Leverage the power of the internet and social media;
  • Engage in direct marketing and sales;
  • Encourage the use of Word-of-Mouth marketing (referrals).

Financial Projection

a. How Much Should You Charge for your product/Service?

To know what you should charge your clients, take into consideration the amount you invested coupled with your monthly expenses. If you intend to charge by the hour, implement a minimum time limit to guarantee you can make enough money at each event. If the location or events warrant that you sell coffee by the cup, ensure you find out what your competitors charge.

b. How Much Profit Do Coffee Van Businesses in Australia Owners Make a Year?

Truth be told, there is no direct way to answer this question. According to industry reports, over 85 percent of the full-time food-related trucks make at least $100,000 per annum. However, in Australia, it will most often depend on numerous factors such as where you are located, how often you work, and your monthly expenses.

c. What Factors Determine the Amount of Profit to Be Made?
  • Location
  • Number of Days
  • Monthly Expenses
  • Number of Vans
  • Season
  • Business Management Style
  • Marketing and Advertising Plans
d. What is the Profit Margin of a Coffee Van Business in Australia?

In Australia, a coffee van business can earn up to 70% of sales as a profit margin, you only need to be consistent with implementing the right strategies.

e. What is the Sales Forecast?
  • First Fiscal Year (FY1): $68,000
  • Second Fiscal Year (FY2): $190,000
  • Third Fiscal Year (FY3): $349,000
  1. Set Up your Shop

a. How Do You Choose a Perfect Location for Coffee Van Business in Australia

When choosing the perfect location, consider its potential to be profitable. Is there a lot of foot traffic in the area? Are there other coffee businesses in the area, and thus competition? Note that your target audience will greatly impact your location. You can decide to only cater to working people, and park your van somewhere accessible during the morning rush hour and their lunch breaks.

You can also choose to park your coffee van close to a shopping center and satisfy the cravings of those doing their weekend shopping, or around beaches during the summer holiday period. Concisely speaking, coffee vans do well in:

  • Business parks
  • Industrial estates
  • University campuses
  • Touristic locations
  • Stadiums and sports centers
  • Farmers markets
  • Outdoor events
  • Outdoor concerts
  • Car boot sales
  • Parking lots.
b. What State and City are Best to Open a Coffee Van Business in Australia?
  • Hobart
  • Sydney
  • Melbourne
  • Brisbane
  • Gold Coast
  • Cairns
c. What Equipment is Needed to Operate?
  • Van/truck/cart
  • A Point-of-Sale (POS) system
  • Coffee Machine
  • Bean grinders for both espresso and drip coffee
  • Serving Items (E.g., Pitchers, Stirrers, Cups, and Lids)
  • Steaming Pitchers
  • Handwashing Sink
  • Water Pump for Coffee Maker
  • Refillable Water Jugs
  • Milk
  • Drink Add-Ons (E.g., Syrups, and Sugar)
  • Quality coffee beans
  1. Hire Employees

Always remember that your business is only as good as the staff who help you attend to the needs of clients. Although you can choose to run your business alone, you may still need skilled barristers. You will need to recruit them and get them ready for work. Also ensure that your coffee beans, equipment, and other products are top quality. Don’t forget that first impressions matters a lot in this business.

  1. Launch the Business Proper

To launch your business properly, you should consider hosting a soft opening. Note that aside from getting the word out about your business, it also offers your team the opportunity to note your business flow of service. You can also decide to invite friends and family of your staff for a little opening to ease yourself into things especially since there’s less pressure when you know all the guests.

You can also send soft opening invites to neighboring businesses and residents. It will serve as a medium to meet all your neighbors and get the word out in your community. Remember to start with a small limited menu at least to make it less challenging for your employees.

a. What Makes a Coffee Van Business in Australia Successful?

Your success as a coffee van business will most often depend on the number of events you can book each month. Note that the more events you book, the more profits you can make. Successful coffee vans are always present at big events, offering items like food or tea drinks at an extra cost, or inculcating in-demand coffees and other products to draw in customers. Other factors to consider include;

  • High-quality ingredients
  • Best brewing recipes
  • Consistency
  • Fresh and appealing sweet & savory selections
b. What Happens During a Typical Day at a Coffee Van Business in Australia?

When you park your coffee van at events or in locations with good foot traffic, note that your focus will be on serving your customers. Your activities will include setting up your van, brewing coffee, and providing top-notch customer service. Howbeit, there are days when your activities will include networking and promoting your business to ensure you can find more events to grow your business profits.

c. What Skills and Experience Do You Need to Build a Coffee Van Business in Australia?
  • Customer service
  • Management skills
  • Marketing
  • Teamwork
  • Problem Solving
  • Communication
  • Work Ethic