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How Much Does it Cost to Start a Coffee Truck?

Startup Costs Worksheet

Startup Costs Worksheet

13 Min Read

cost to start a coffee truck
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Have you ever thought about mixing your love for coffee with the excitement of traveling? Starting a coffee truck business is a great way to do this.

Coffee isn’t just a drink for the morning, it’s a big business that offers a chance to make money and have fun at the same time. The industry provides various opportunities for creativity and customer engagement, making it an enjoyable venture for those passionate about coffee.

Whether you want to serve busy people in the morning, be part of special events, or add energy to local events, a coffee truck can make it happen.

In this blog, we’ll talk about what you need to do and how much money you need to start your own mobile coffee shop. We’ll cover everything from buying your truck to getting the right permits.

Get ready to learn how you can turn your coffee dream into a traveling coffee shop!

Average costs for starting a coffee truck business

Before we get into details, check out this coffee truck business startup cost checklist. It will help you plan your startup budget and know how much financing you need to get started.

Item Average Cost
One-time Expenses
Vehicle Purchase or Lease $30,000 to $35,000
Equipment $8,000 to $10,000
Initial Inventory $1,000 to $1,500
Permits and Licenses $500 to $1,000
Insurance $1,000 to $2,000
Marketing and Branding $1,000 to $2,000
Website Development and Hosting $500 to $1,000
Miscellaneous $1,000 to $1,500
Total $43,000 to $54,000
Recurring Expenses (Per Month)
Inventory Restock $750 to $1,500
Fuel $400 to $800
Staff Wages $1,500 to $2,500
Vehicle Maintenance $200 to $400
Insurance $150 to $300
Marketing $300 to $800
Miscellaneous (parking, tolls, fines) $200 to $400
Total Recurring Expenses $3,500 to $6,700
Total $46,500 to $60,700

Using this coffee truck startup cost checklist, you can plan your startup budget and get an idea of how much financing you will need.

How to calculate the cost of starting a coffee truck business

You now have a list of potential expenses and a rough estimate of your startup costs. Let’s estimate your actual startup costs using these two proven methods.

The first, traditional method involves using a startup costs calculator to estimate the coffee truck startup costs. However, the second, the Upmetrics method, is an innovative method that uses the Upmetrics financial forecasting tool.

Let’s understand both methods so that you can choose one that suits your requirements the best.

The Conventional Method: Startup Costs Calculator

The calculator includes categories such as pre-trading, website setup, marketing, operations, and people. You can enter the estimated costs in each field and let the calculator estimate the costs for you.

Remember that many startup costs fall under recurring expenses, so cover those costs monthly, quarterly, or annually.

Calculate your startup costs using this calculator.

The Upmetrics Method:  Financial Forecasting Tool

It’s an intuitive and efficient method of calculating startup costs. Using Upmetrics will not just help you estimate startup costs but also help with financial forecasting.

All you need to do is enter your sales, costs, and other financial assumptions and let the tool calculate monthly/quarterly/ and yearly projections for you.


Check out the financial forecasting tool for accurate financial forecasting. Once you have an accurate estimate of startup costs, you can easily identify funding requirements for your coffee truck.

Financial Planning to calculate startup costs

Calculate Your Startup Costs

Once you accurately estimate startup costs, you can easily identify funding requirements for your coffee truck business.

Raising funds for a new startup is nerve-wracking and time-consuming, but having a solid coffee truck business plan can make things a lot easier.

Let’s move ahead and discuss the factors that affect your coffee truck business startup costs.

Factors that affect coffee truck startup costs

From location to permits, many factors affect your start-up costs. Understanding these factors will help you identify the areas that need funding for your coffee business.

1. Location and mobility of coffee truck

Choosing the right location for your coffee truck plays an important role in how successful your business can be. Think of your location like a fishing spot—the better the spot, the more fish you’re likely to catch.

For a coffee truck, a good “fishing spot” means places with lots of people who might want a quick coffee and a refreshing start.

Best Locations for a Coffee Truck:

  • Near colleges and schools
  • Business districts
  • Shopping centers
  • Event venues and parks

The key to a successful mobile coffee business is flexibility and understanding your customer base.

If your coffee truck moves around rather than staying in one place, choosing the right route becomes a factor of consideration. You’ll want to find several good spots you can rotate through during the week.

This way, you can serve more customers and not rely too much on one location. Plus, moving around lets you become known in multiple areas, spreading the word about your business and attracting new regulars.

2. Purchase and customization of a coffee truck

Getting your hands on the right coffee truck is like finding the perfect base for your mobile café. Purchasing and customizing a coffee truck is a big step. It’s about finding the right balance between functionality, aesthetics, and cost. Here’s what you need to know about purchasing your vehicle:

New Trucks: A brand-new coffee truck can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000, depending on the size and the features it comes with. These trucks are often customizable right from the manufacturer, so you can get exactly what you need.

Used Trucks: If you’re starting with a tighter budget, a used vehicle might be the way to go. Prices for used trucks range from $20,000 to $50,000. You should see the condition and age of the truck as it can greatly affect its performance and the amount of maintenance it might need.

Customizing your truck:

Whether you decide to own a new or used truck, you can always customize it. Customization isn’t just about making your truck look cool; it’s about creating an inviting space that draws customers in and functions efficiently for your business needs.

A well-customized truck can serve as a mobile billboard for your brand. Creative, eye-catching designs can make your truck stand out from the crowd and attract more customers. The interior layout is equally important, as it needs to be designed to maximize space and ease the flow of service.

Depending on what changes you need, customization can cost an additional $10,000 to $30,000. This includes installing coffee machines, grinders, water systems, and storage, as well as decorating the exterior.

3. Permits, licenses, and insurance

Handling permits, licenses, and insurance might not be the most exciting part of running a coffee truck, but it’s essential for operating without trouble. Getting this right means you can focus more on serving great coffee and less on worrying about compliance issues.

Since you’re operating a mobile business, you’ll need specific permits and licenses that vary by location. Always check the specific requirements for every city or area you plan to operate in. Regulations can vary, and you want to avoid fines and legal trouble.

Here’s what you typically need:

  • Mobile vendor permit

This allows you to sell coffee on the streets. You must check with your city to understand the specific requirements and costs, which can vary widely.

  • Health department permit

Since you’re serving food and beverages, this permit is a must. It involves health inspections and a fee that can range from $100 to $500 annually, depending on your location.

  • Business License

This is the standard license required to operate any business, including a mobile coffee shop. Costs can vary, typically around $50 to $100.


Having the right insurance protects you, your business, and your customers. Here are the types of insurance commonly useful by coffee trucks:

  • Vehicle Insurance

Just like any vehicle, your truck needs to be insured. This is typically more expensive than personal vehicle insurance due to the commercial nature of your business. Expect to pay around $1,200 to $2,500 per year.

  • General liability Insurance

This covers a wide range of incidents, from accidents to injuries that might occur in your business. Costs can range from $500 to $1,000 annually.

  • Property Insurance

Protects the equipment inside your truck from damage or theft. Annual costs are usually between $500 and $800.

  • Workers’ compensation

If you hire employees, this insurance is required in most of the places. It covers medical costs and disability benefits if an employee gets injured on the job. The cost depends on how many employees you have and your payroll size.

4. Equipment and supplies for coffee-making

Setting up your coffee truck with the right equipment and supplies is essential to ensure you can deliver high-quality coffee to your customers every day. Here’s what you’ll need and how much it might cost.

Coffee truck equipment:

  • Espresso machine: This is the heart of your coffee operation. A good quality machine ensures you can make great coffee consistently. Costs can range from $3,000 to $15,000 depending on the brand and capabilities.
  • Coffee grinder: Freshly ground beans make the best coffee. Expect to pay between $500 and $2,000 for a durable, commercial-grade grinder.
  • Refrigeration: You’ll need a refrigerator to store milk, cream, and other perishables. Small commercial refrigerators typically cost between $1,000 and $4,000.
  • Water filtration system: A filtration system can cost from $150 to $500.

Supplies for starting out:

  • Coffee beans: The quality of your beans will directly impact the taste of your coffee, so choose wisely. Costs for high-quality beans can vary widely, typically between $10 to $30 per pound.
  • Cups, Lids, and sleeves: Monthly costs can range from $200 to $500 depending on your volume of sales.
  • Milk and cream: Dairy and non-dairy options are essential. Monthly costs for these can range from $100 to $300, depending on the products you choose and your sales volume.
  • Syrups and sweeteners: These are essential for creating a variety of drinks. Initial stock might cost between $100 and $200.

High-quality beans might cost more, but they can differentiate your coffee from competitors and keep customers coming back. Efficiently manage your inventory to ensure you have enough supplies without overstocking, which can lead to wastage.

5. Marketing and Branding

Getting the word out about your coffee truck is a must for attracting customers and building your business.

Key branding elements:

  • Logo and design: Your truck’s appearance is your first chance to catch a customer’s eye. Design a catchy logo and a vibrant wrap for your truck that reflects your brand’s personality. This might cost around $500 to $2,000, depending on the complexity and quality of the designs.
  • Consistent theme: Your cups, napkins, and even your menu should match your truck’s theme. This consistency makes your brand memorable and professional.

Effective marketing strategies:

  • Social media marketing: $100 to $500 per month for advertisements.
  • Local partnerships: Costs can vary greatly; consider potential fees for event participation or revenue share agreements.
  • Customer Loyalty Programs: Minimal startup costs
  • Website and Online Presence: $200 to $1,000 for basic website setup and design.

Use social media not just to post updates but to interact with your customers. Ask them what they like, or run small contests. This builds a community around your brand.

Regularly update your social media with your truck’s locations and times. The more people know where to find you, the more likely they are to stop by for coffee.

6. Staffing and operations

Operating a coffee truck typically requires fewer staff members compared to a traditional café. You may need:

Barista(s): The primary employee responsible for making coffee and serving customers. Depending on your operation’s size and customer volume, you might need one or two baristas during peak hours. The average barista’s hourly pay is  $12.34.

A few other managing staff include:

  • Cashier/Customer Service
  • Driver/Operator
  • Operational Considerations
  • Scheduling
  • Supply Management
  • Maintenance

Costs will vary depending on local wage laws and the number of staff. On average, baristas earn $10-$15 per hour, while drivers might earn more based on their responsibilities and required licenses.

7. Professional fees

When setting up and running your coffee truck, you may need to consult with various professionals. This ensures that your business operates smoothly and complies with all legal requirements. Types of professional fees you might encounter:

  • Legal services
  • Accounting services
  • Marketing and branding consultants
  • Business consultants

Fees can vary widely based on the complexity of your needs. For initial setup and occasional consultations, budget around $1,000 to $5,000. Ongoing accounting services might cost between $200 to $500 per month, depending on the level of service required.

Tips for reducing coffee truck startup costs

Starting a coffee truck can be a fulfilling and profitable venture, but initial costs can add up quickly. Here are some practical tips to help reduce startup costs for your coffee truck business:

Buy a used coffee truck

Instead of purchasing a brand-new truck, consider buying a used one. Many used trucks are already equipped for food service and require less customization. This can significantly reduce your initial investment. Just be sure to have a mechanic inspect it thoroughly to avoid costly repairs later.

DIY branding and design

While professional branding is important, there are many tools available that can help you design your own logo and promotional materials at a lower cost. Websites like Canva offer user-friendly design platforms that are much cheaper than hiring a designer.

Seek out cost-effective suppliers

Shop around for suppliers to get the best deals on coffee beans, milk, cups, and other necessities. Bulk purchasing and establishing good relationships can lead to discounts and better terms.

Plan your route smartly

Minimize driving distances by planning your route and parking spots strategically to reduce fuel expenses and maximize customer exposure. Opt for locations with high foot traffic and minimal competition.


And there you have it! This guide provides a thorough overview of the initial and ongoing costs associated with starting a coffee truck business. What’s the next step? Now, it’s time to calculate the precise amount of capital you’ll need to launch your mobile cafe.

You don’t need to navigate this process on your own. Consider using tools like Upmetrics, a business planning software that uses AI to accurately estimate your startup expenses swiftly. With the right planning tools, you can prepare to hit the road with your coffee truck. Upmetrics simplifies the journey of budgeting and planning, utilizing cutting-edge technology to ensure you’re set for success.

Use Upmetrics for Accurate Startup Cost Projections!

Looking to estimate your startup costs? Dive into Upmetrics! Our business plan software makes financial forecasting a breeze

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About the Author


Upmetrics Team

Upmetrics is the #1 business planning software that helps entrepreneurs and business owners create investment-ready business plans using AI. We regularly share business planning insights on our blog. Check out the Upmetrics blog for such interesting reads. Read more


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