America at work
How an Old Ambulance Became the Home of Some of Michigan’s Best Coffee
Cordell Eddings and Cassie Hodges | March 27, 2018

Ten years ago they barely existed. Now, food trucks are an enormous industry bringing in $2.7 billion in sales, according to the “Food Truck Nation” a study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. In honor of the brave and bold purveyors of flavor bringing their tasty food to the streets every day,  we are highlighting five innovative, cool and above all delicious Food Trucks living their entrepreneurial dreams.

Today, meet Kalamazoo, Michigan’s Coffee Rescue. Known for coffee blends from Ethiopia, El Salvador and Peru with bright, crisp notes of lemon and citrus, dark chocolate, caramel–all out of a converted ambulance, the food truck has quickly become a fixture in Southwest Michigan. So much so that now in their sixth year of operation they have started a second truck and hired their first employees. What drives them? Take a look:

Coffee Rescue

Owner: Jamie Brock

Location: The Greater Southwest Michigan Area

How to Find Them: Here, on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram

How did you come up with the name of your food truck?

My brother came up with the original concept of a coffee delivery service and found the ambulance when looking for trucks at an auction.  The name then followed!

What does your average day look like? 

Event Day Evening:

  • Buy last-minute supplies and ready-to-eat fresh pastries
  • Temper the coffee airpots
  • Fill water jugs with purified water
  • Grind coffee

Event Morning:

  • 5:00am wake up
  • 5:30am plug in industrial brewer
  • 6:00am – 7:00am brew coffee, hot water and espresso (Filling 10- 82oz. airpots)
  • 7:00am load up water, milk, pop, etc., put ice in coolers and load fresh pastries onboard; fill gas cans, generator, and truck gas tank
  • 7:30am leave for the event (or earlier, based on time and location).  The coffee truck always has to arrive FIRST!

What inspired you to get in the food truck business?

Coffee Rescue is one of Kalamazoo’s first Food Trucks.  Family-operated by Kalamazoo natives, we began operation in Sept 2012 as a way to provide income for a family member experiencing a financial crisis.  I bought the business from the original owner (my brother) in April 2014 after we had successfully helped our family get back on track while building a large customer base in the process.

How did you finance your start?  

I felt that it was important to start with my own modest investment and grow organically as a sole proprietor without incurring debt.

What’s the craziest thing that has happened to you or your business in your time in the Food Truck Business?

I always say that we’re “going on an adventure” at the beginning of the day to my co-workers.  Getting lost is always a possibility because we’re going to places we’ve never been.  Truck breakdowns are always fun, like the time my drive shaft fell off on the busy I-94 highway.  Also the time my brother drove his personal vehicle through the finish line of a triathlon was pretty funny.

What’s the hardest part of the job and why?

By far the permits and regulations are the hardest part of the job because they’re different in every city (where you can park, duration, parking fees, etc) and you have to notify each health department individually.  You also have to do your research on the event to make sure it’s run well, you’ll have sufficient sales, enough product, good location, etc.

What gets you up in the morning?

The genuine drive for success that all entrepreneurs possess.  Small wins and progress are important to focus on as you move forward toward your goal of owning a successful business.

What’s your number one piece of advice for aspiring Food Truck owners?

Know your numbers!  Learn accounting and business as well as marketing and social media and learn the rules and regulations that apply to your area before making the investment.