Cost of running a coffee cart / event

A general guide on the Cost of running a coffee cart follows.

Almost every month we are approached by someone wanting to run a coffee cart or set up at an event. We dabbled in this for a few events before deciding we prefer to concentrate on sourcing great coffee, sustainably and responsibly.

However, since we are asked this regularly, we have thrown together a costing and GP sheet, which we offer it here for download and use.

Explanation of sections

While designed in rands, you can change the sheet to whatever you like. It is broken down into these sections:

  • Fixed costs: Costs that you will typically always have, regardless of the amount of coffee sold. Standard rental of a stand (construction etc.), equipment rental (or depreciation), rental of the space at the event, transport to and from the event, and any wages or salaries due for the event.
  • Per cup costs: Every cup you served has a consumable cost. Included is most of what you should consider. Assumptions are 8 cups per litre of milk (for milk-based drinks), and an average coffee size out to 220ml (for the water). All other items are rounded up per cup. It is assumed that while you buy in bulk, you will eventually use all the cups and other goodies.
  • Gross Profit: Uses per cup cost and cost per each milk, or black coffee drink are sold compared to the per cup cost. You can guestimate the number of each you expect to sell, be conservative here.
  • Fix costs factored in or Net Profit: Uses the above to calculate the real cost and hence net profit.

To use the spreadsheet

Update the costs you are aware of, change the prices you are charging for milk-based and black coffees. The GP and NP lines will reflect as per the numbers entered.

Things not considered

Things we have not included in the calc are:

  • If you use filter coffee brewing, this can be more cost-effective and will speed up your queues. Consider this solution for large events.
  • Consider any extras you should be selling. Baked goods, prep-prepared foods etc., can make a difference to your net profit.
  • If you expand your offering, to include teas, hot choc and cold drinks are easy to add and add an extra amount of profit.
  • Sponsoring of banners and the like may be worth investigating.
  • Hire trained staff, and prepare them for the event. Staff get sick, and you need to have a contingency for this.

The spreadsheet as promised

Here is the spreadsheet as promised, right-click to download: Coffee Cart Event Profit Calc… Please note the prices in the sheet are from early 2019. You will need to put in the values yourself to get an accurate number.

Cost of running a coffee cart spreadsheet

Coffee Event Costings spreadsheet


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