, there were no coffee carts. There were carts where you could buy hot dogs, fruit, or souvenirs, but no coffee. Iced coffee, hot coffee, specialty coffee began sprouting up in conveniently located carts in department stores, sports arenas, and city corners. Often, one found a coffee cart positioned in front of a coffee bar. Outside the Starbucks near our old office on 42nd Street, the coffee cart that held that corner before Starbucks arrived, continues to serve the same amount of coffee as before - no more and no less.
Many cart manufacturers started from very humble beginning - building in their backyard or garage, others supplied carts for other functions and quickly adapted the cart to a fulfill the demand for beverages. Manufacturer sales have steadily increased as carts can now be found occupying places on the four corners of the globe. They’re firmly entrenched in Asia and Europe and the number of cart manufacturer listings in our Ukers’ Directory & Buyers’ Guide continue to grow every year.
So after asking cart manufacturers how does one choose a cart, pick a location, conform to city and town codes, we decided to see what was the most unique order a manufacturer had to fulfill.
Jerry DePorter of Bridge Industries, Inc. told us their most unusual cart request, “The customer wanted a way to have his cart identified as an espresso cart. City regulations prohibited external signs above a cart or on the exterior of a cart. The solution was to build a cart with a glass face and place an “Espresso” neon sign behind the face of the cart. The city objected but then relented because the sign was in the cart and not on the exterior. We liked the design and look so much that the model is now our feature cart for 2002.” Bridge’s most unusual cart location was a full-size custom coffee cart with full equipment that was placed on a private yacht located on Puget Sound near Seattle. The customer wanted his guests to have the feel of a real coffee bar and thus placed his cart right on his yacht; so, while he’s sailing the seven seas, he can always have a cup of joe.
Burgess Enterprises has been manufacturing carts and kiosks for the coffee industry since 1984. Judy Blum of Burgess Enterprises says their carts are available in Japan, Saudi Arabia, and many countries in Europe. Many of the carts Burgess manufactures are situated in supermarkets, all self-contained and ready to sell espresso, lattes and pastries to shoppers. In addition, carts are quickly replacing the cafeteria as the place to grab a cup of coffee while visiting the hospital. They even blend with the décor; their colors are all in soothing and calming tones.
Blum tells us they have requests for some real hot colors - Hot pink and Forsythia yellow (prevalent in the Bahamas) and one of their latest carts boosted psychedelic colors. She reveals that more carts will soon be seen in the major fast food restaurants. “As for unusual carts,” Blum and her co-workers chuckled, “They’ve all been that way!”
Boyd Coffee Company of Portland, Oregon designed a custom-made Techni-Brew Espresso Entertainment Center cart as a part of the sponsorship for a local outdoors sports arena. The cart was designed to match the park’s turn-of-the-century look. As a result, specialty coffee beverages were consumed during baseball and soccer games exposing unsuspecting spectators to a quality cup of coffee.
An urban coffee roaster might consider a cart in front of their business, drawing more attention and perhaps customers to their brands - or how about a coffee cart in front of a competitors’ store. It sometimes happens...but not for long. And don’t forget, sometimes a first impression is the only chance to entice a consumer to stop by and sample your products.
Well, our own coffee cart is here, so until next time, happy drinking!