SZ – What tempted you to start your own mobile coffee business?
A love of great coffee, first and foremost. Over the years I’d thought about owning a coffee shop, but the key for me was being mobile. to be able to get involved with a variety of events and festivals.
SZ – What were you doing before you started?
I was working as a fundraiser, with a focus on event led fundraising. Lots of long hours, but very rewarding.
SZ – Why did you choose a Smart Car for your venture?
Its neat, eco friendly and can drive to any location and fit in at any event.
SZ – How did you convert the Smart Car, did you do it yourself or use a specialist?
I went to specialists: www.thebigcoffee.com to have the car converted, I admire self builds, but commercial grade coffee machines, gas and electrics are best left to the experts. Especially when you want your business up and running quickly.
SZ – Have you any previous experience in mobile catering?
My only experience of mobile catering was as punter. Having been to tonnes of festivals, events and street food markets. That said, I’ve been a waiter, barman and barista for a good few years, so my catering experience is pretty extensive.
SZ – How are you finding the Industry now, in terms of finding work / events?
The last few months have been a steep learning curve. I find it really exciting looking for new events, markets and festivals to attend. It tough though. The market is full of people selling coffee. The challenge is choosing the right event, and being able to afford, and work out, if its cost effective to pay the pitch fees. Some of the big festivals charge traders thousands of pounds for a pitch.
We”re really pleased to have a calendar of events that are diverse ranging from farmers markets, to music festivals. A few highlights and where you can find us. ParkLife – Manchester, Found Festival – London, Beverley Folk Festival – East Yorks. Secret Garden Party – Cambridge. Galtres in North Yorks and Oakwell in Bradford. We’ll also be at the Tour De France in Knaresborough and a handful of markets and fairs all over Yorkshire and beyond.
SZ – What makes your business stand out from the crowd?
The Smart Car. The Coffee and The Service! My cart is always a draw at an event, it gets people talking. I use great coffee from small producers. It’s the best. Small Batch Coffee and The Blending Room are great coffee roasters and its a pleasure to serve their product. I offer a great, quick and uncomplicated service.
As well as serving great coffee, we are always starting and perfecting new fruit based bubble iced teas’, as well as amazing hot chocolate, that you’ll often find me up all night perfecting the blend before an event!
SZ – Festival organisers are looking for traders with good ‘Green’ cred’s, do you use any biodegradable products?
It’s really important to me that we are as green as we can possibly be. All of the packaging is biodegradable and compostable. Our coffee, sugar and hot chocolate is all fair-trade and the milk we use is sourced from local dairies. The cart itself is a ‘Smart Car’ which is as eco friendly as you can get compared to most!
SZ – What resources do you use to find events / advice / legislation etc.. for the day to day running of your business?
Streetzine! Honestly. Its been, and continues to be, my “go to” for all questions and advice. The articles posted are really useful, and always relevant. Besides that, I am lucky to have a great mate that runs ‘Smooth Criminals’, serving the best smoothies at all the major music festivals. He has been a great support.
SZ – Has your journey so far lived up to your expectations?
Yes. Its been tough, but its very rewarding. Being your own boss and having control is amazing, but it does come with its challenges. I’ve had to learn fast and think on my feet. All the 5am starts, and late nights are worthwhile when I’m pouring great coffee for my loyal customers that are lining up by the cart.
SZ – Have you any other plans on the horizon?
I’m going to start offering Barista training with one of the roasters I work with. I’m also looking for more events and festivals, so please do get in touch if you’d like to book Fuel Coffee Cart. @BenAhmed
Having had our ‘virtual’ coffee break with Ben, we are gonna have to turn virtual into reality really soon! Very much looking forward to meeting you Ben and tasting your great products 🙂