Eco Coffee Truck Journey

Ok, let's talk power,

I'll be honest, I, like the majority of us, have always taken power for granted. I walk into my apartment, I flip a switch and the lights turn on. I push a button and the kettle starts boiling, my TV turns on with the click of a remote. Never before have I really considered exactly where that power is sourced from and just how convenient it is. 

To some degree, I was aware of how unsustainable some of our most-used energy sources are, how much they can increase air pollution and contribute to existing greenhouse gasses. I knew our energy was sourced from some of the planet's finite resources, but I have definitely taken it for granted until recently.

So considering we are a coffee truck, why are we talking so much about power? 

We need electricity to turn on all of our machines (and boy do we need ALOT). I don’t think we’d ever realized how much power a coffee truck needs vs how much power your typical food truck may need. Did you know that our coffee machine alone needs 4,440 watts of energy? Now that may not mean much to the not so environmentally-woke among us, but to put it in context, that’s 4x as much energy as a fridge! When you consider the power needed for a 6-hour shift, along with the power needed for all of our other equipment, you begin to question how this is made possible. 

Most trucks use a generator, generating the power needed for their equipment. You will typically see anything from a 2,500-watt generator to a 7,000-watt generator on a food truck. Now, remember what I said before about how much energy our coffee machine needs… So for the coffee machine alone we are already looking at the need for a large generator, then we need to think about everything used throughout a regular shift;  fridges, freezers, drip filter machine, blenders, hot water machine, lights, POS terminal - the list goes on.

So you may be thinking, “Why are you still going on about this... can’t you just get a bigger generator?”, which to put bluntly, we already have. But given its size, this creates a lot of noise, not to mention the heat in order to produce all the energy we need (and extra heat in California - in the summer - urgh, save me now!). Not only is the noise a disturbance to customers, but this is why you will often see us with our head out of the serving window just so we can hear!

There’s also a more discrete component produced by the generator, the carbon monoxide. Whilst our generator is vented, it still produces small amounts of poisonous carbon monoxide, which we don’t want to be exposing ourselves or our customers to.

Finally, our generator needs fossil fuel (in the form of gasoline) to create all that energy, which we already know directly adds to our air pollution. 

Sustainability; a continual learning

As you know we are a plant-based coffee truck for reasons around our value in the environment, animals, and for our health. We wholeheartedly believe no one needs dairy in their coffee, and we hope to demonstrate this with our diverse, yet accessible menu. The challenge we face at the moment surrounds that generator, which is surpassing our work to promote sustainable living. California has an abundance of sunshine - one of the big reasons we moved here. We really want to find a way of using this sunshine, raising our value in sustainability, and bidding farewell to unsustainable power sources like that generator.

While there are more and more people starting to live off the grid with sustainable energy sources, these individuals have space for solar panels and batteries to store the energy. But when it comes to the catering truck world, we are delving into relatively new territory, which to some may be daunting, but to us is very exciting.

We are now embarking on a journey to understand the power requirements of all our equipment, the hours we need to run it for, our ability to charge batteries and tap into the sunshine, so one day we can remove that gasoline fuelled, noisy, smelly, and polluting generator, replaced by a sustainable battery and solar solution. We are talking to battery companies like Battle Born and SimpliPhi, liaising with solar power experts like Northern Arizona wind & sun, my extremely intelligent father, and other experts in the field to find a viable solution for us.

There are already battery-powered food trucks on the road, but we are not sure there are many, if not any coffee trucks doing it yet. Our needs make it challenging to find affordable solutions, but it is definitely possible. If huge cargo ships can create their own electricity while at sea, I’m sure there’s a solution for our little coffee machine!  

We will find a solution in the coming months so that eventually, we will be an exclusively battery-operated coffee truck. And what an amazing moment that will be! Then who knows what the future holds? A fully electric engine in our truck? We are determined to make this dream come true.

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