How to set up water in your Coffee Cart or Food Van

Setting up the plumbing in your coffee cart or food cart.

Councils across Australia have a variety of requirements but most of them want you to have running hot water in your coffee cart. Please check the specific requirements for your area.

Your set up will need the following:

  • A water tank
  • Food grade piping
  • A pump (either 240V or 12V) which must be certified to meet AUS/NZ electrical requirements
  • An accumulator tank
  • A hot water heater which must be certified to meet AUS/NZ electrical requirements
  • A non-return valve or a check valve

Step 1: You will need a water tank or water supply vessel

If you don’t have access to a tap then the easiest way to have water is to have a tank or a bladder of water. If your space is limited you may want to consider the Plastimo flexible bladders which come in a range of sizes from 50 to 200 litres and are form fitting so they can squeeze in anywhere. Another popular choice are rigid poly storage tanks which also come in a range of sizes to suit all coffee cart and food vans and available in our sister store Escaping Outdoors.

Step 2: You will require food grade hose

When setting up water for you coffee cart pump you will need a food grade hose preferably with a screen filter to run from your water supply to your coffee cart pump. (The screen filter comes with the FL43 preferred pump). Make sure the hose is reinforced so it does not squash flat as the pump runs.

Step 3: Choose a coffee cart water pump

Choose a small pressure pump for your coffee cart pump that will automatically go on and off when you use the tap. If you have access to mains power the most popular coffee cart pump is the Escaping Outdoors FL43. Available with either four rubber feet or a base plate the Escaping Outdoors brand of FL43 pump has gone through rigorous testing to meet the current and new since December 2021 Australian standards for pumps and has the Global Mark Certification. GMA-511899.

If you do not have access to 240v power the pump we recommend is the 12v Jabsco J20-202 supplying 10.9 litres per minute. Either pump is suitable as a coffee cart pump or food van pump and can suck water 2 metres up from the water supply, so mounting it above the tank is no problem.

Typical food van coffee cart water pump set up - Water Pumps Now Australia

Step 4: Buy an accumulator tank (pressure tank)

This only applies if you are installing the 240v pump which is the most popular set-up. Protect both your pump and your coffee machine by adding a small accumulator tank after the pump. The pump will then fill the tank with water and when you open the tap, the bladder in the accumulator tank will push out the pressurized water.

This way the pump runs less frequently and you don’t run the risk of burning out the pressure switch on the pump or worst still the motor due to pressure. It will also protect your coffee machine from water surges. The 12 volt pump option already has this function built into the pump.

This set up will run from 1 to 4 outlets in a standard van.

Step 5: Non-return valve or check valve (foot valve)

Dependant on your water supply, when setting up diaphragm pumps you need to place a valve between the water supply and the pump. This is a very important part of your pump set up in a caravan style situation. The valve is used to keep the pump primed and must be installed in the correct position. Without the valve, the pump will sense a drop in pressure if water siphons back to the water supply creating an air pocket in your system. The pump will also turn on and keep pumping air without the pump switching off until it eventually overheats and cooks the motor.

There are two types of valves to choose from:

  • A check valve ( foot valve ): use if using a jerry can style of water supply with a hose going into the can or container. The check valve goes on the end of your pipe / hose if the pump is mounted higher than your water source.
  • A non-return valve: if using a closed container with an outlet. The non-return valve connects to the bottom of the water tanks outlet. If the water source is equal or lower than your pump, the non-return valve prevents water draining back to the water source and creating air pockets which can cause damage to your pump.

Step 6: Hot water for your coffee cart

Health regulations throughout councils across Australia require food handling coffee carts and food vans to have a water supply to wash their hands and often require the water to be heated. Check your council requirements. Water Pumps Now sell compact electric hot water heaters to fit into a small space which are perfect for this application.

Step 7: We're here to help - Give us a Call

Water Pumps Now stock all the parts and accessories necessary for your plumbing set up for your coffee cart so if you would like to speak to a specialist in this area or if you are having issues with your current set-up, give us a call and have a chat to Paul on 1300 411 366 or contact us at Water Pumps Now Australia.


Paul Girdler

Paul Girdler, Managing Director/ Sales
Water Pumps Now Your Online Pump Shop

We welcome your enquiry. Check out Water Pumps Now full range of pump products.