...A day in the Life of Mobile Coffee Unit Operator!
Some people would think that this is a very easy job, but today I will tell you as it is!
Starting at the very beginning, it's all about the preparation so to start with the mobile coffee bar, it has to be cleaned both on the inside and the outside and then packed. To help with packing we have created a 'packing list, which consists of no less than 40 items that must be packed in order to operate a successful mobile speciality coffee business.
So, it's the morning of the event, its up at 5.30am, and driving to the venue, arriving at 6.30am and finding the event organiser to find out what site you have been allocated. Here is the difficult bit for some people, managing to reverse the trailer into the site you have been allocated! 9 times out of 10, its normally a gap between two other traders, which is a real nightmare!
Once positioned, it will take approximately 40 minutes to 'set up' in order to be able to produce the first perfect coffee of the morning. I normally make sure the first coffee is mine for 2 main reasons, firstly, I need a coffee by then and secondly its an excellent way to check the quality of the product you are serving.
During the day, it will be necessary to monitor the grinders, this is due to the likely temperature change as the day progresses, as things warm up the coffee grind will probably need to be tightened up to ensure a consistent extraction. Filling water containers on busy days, can be a back breaking and time-consuming job. People don't realise we are not connected to mains water, so all the water we use must be taken on site, filled up on site and put in the correct vessels feeing the urns and the espresso machine.
The general public are truly wonderful, and this is the very best part of the job. Engaging with customers, taking the orders, listening to how they like their coffee and there are so many variations:
- Extra hot skinny decaf cappuccino
- Soya late with Vanilla
- Hot chocolate with hazelnut
- Decaf Flat White
There are some customers who really have no idea what to order, so we can explain the menu and find the drink that would be most appropriate for them too. That's the best bit, and they come back later in the day and remind you that they now know what to order in the future.
So, we are serving from 7.45am normally, and the event will close at 5pm. No time for lunch or breaks most days as we like to keep our teams motivated and working. So, it's a long shift and not for the faint hearted! Its takes a lot of stamina to keep going and believe me it not easy.
Its now 4pm and the event is starting to slow down, so its time to do a phased pack down, so the urns need descaling, a hot and nasty job, the utensils need cleaning and everything that you put out this morning needs packing back up in boxes, ready to drop to the floor for transporting. Generators need lifting, water carriers need emptying and then finally at 5.30pm you are ready to hitch up and head home.
The journey home is about an hour, so back to the unit at 6.30pm, where the trailer is kept, empty out the towing vehicle and any stock that needs refrigeration or airtight storage.
Back home for 7.15pm, 12 hours plus is a normal day at an event and for the agricultural County Shows even longer as trading hours are longer.
The biggest time consuming work is probably the paperwork involved with running the business, this is all the Company Registration, accounts, pay roll, book keeping, legal issues, insurance, prospecting for new business, quotations, organising drop offs with event organisers, negotiating and tendering for events, looking after the website, working with local businesses and charities. Maintenance of the units and equipment, ordering stock, cash and carry runs, looking for new items to sell and lots of cleaning and packing, washing towing vehicles and trailers.
It becomes an all-encompassing work and life all muddled into one. A decision to enter this way of life should not be taken lightly, we see so many mobile coffee businesses come and go in a matter of a Season, its really not as easy as rock up, sell coffee and go home.
Needless to say, today is a paperwork day dealing with updating the website, but at least I am sitting down!!
Over and out