Brewing up a Business: How Square is helping this Donegal coffee start-up grow

On the go coffee truck

On The Coffee Go Co. truck is nestled along a busy shore front in the seaside town of Buncrana, County Donegal. The truck is open 7 days a week, and has become a local attraction during the pandemic, due to their picturesque location, delicious coffees and home baked treats.

They care deeply about the environment and sustainability, as the truck is powered using solar panels on the roof, and their cups and lids are 100% recyclable.

Bringing a business idea to life

Founder Andrea Kelly, a young budding entrepreneur from Buncrana, was just 19 years old when she first started the business in 2019.

Andrea first got the idea for the business when she worked as a waitress in a local cafe. She quickly saw the demand for serving fast coffees and delicious treats “on the go”. Starting small, she converted an old caravan into a coffee truck. As the coffee grew in popularity, she upgraded to a full-service catering truck just a year ago.

Fortunately, the business boomed during COVID-19. As more people ventured outdoors for walks during lockdown, On the Go became a safe haven to meet a friend for social distanced coffee and chat. The coffee van got so busy that she even had to hire 4 new staff members!

Customer focused

The truck has been described by the locals as “the pub of COVID”, putting life back into the community during the lockdown. The friendly staff play upbeat tunes from the van every weekend, roll out picnic blankets, deck chairs and provide tennis rackets for visitors. They pride themselves on providing excellent customer service, and strive to ensure their customers have a great experience, as well as a delicious coffee when they visit.

“The support from our local community has been fantastic during the pandemic.”

However, it wasn’t always plain sailing for the young entrepreneur. Andrea experienced challenges along the way with hiring and keeping the right staff in place, and adhering to health and safety measures brought about by the strict pandemic guidelines, all while keeping customers happy.

The pandemic also brought with it some changes to customer behaviour. More people were ordering with cards and online through the Bamboo app (which is partnered with Square) for click & collect orders.

“The app just went crazy! People don’t like to wait anymore, convenience is key when it comes to coffee.”

As they got busier, Andrea noticed that their home baking really made a difference in attracting customers. On the Go expanded their menu to include something for everyone - smoothies, healthy treats, traybakes and more recently, chia bowls. They started selling treat boxes filled with their signature baked goods, and themed the boxes around seasonal holidays like Father’s Day and Christmas.

How Square Online has helped grow their business

The baking side of the business took off so much that Andrea set up a proper baking station at home and hired a full-time baker to scale and grow their business.

As well as running the truck, Andrea wholesales baked goods to other local businesses across the North West of Ireland including, Letterkenny, Downings and Derry. Andrea noted how Square Online has dramatically improved pre-ordering for their customers.

“Square Online has really helped with the bakery side of the business. Our customers can conveniently pre-order at the touch of a button anytime and schedule a collection for whenever they want.”

On the Go Coffee joined Square’s Beta programme earlier this year, and decided to switch, as she needed an all-in-one system to process faster transactions and easily keep track of sales.

“I wanted an all-in-one system that had a till, card machine and online ordering. It was so easy to switch that I didn’t even have to train my staff to use Square! It’s so intuitive and simple to use. It’s definitely helped our business keep track of sales and shows us what’s selling best, our busiest/quiet times of the day. The reports are great.”

Looking ahead, Andrea would love to open a drive-through coffee shop as she’s noticed the importance of convenience and time for customers - especially in a post COVID world. Until then, On the Go Coffee will keep on trucking.

If you’re visiting Donegal this summer, check out On The Go Coffee located on the Shore Front in Buncrana for the perfect picnic pit-stop. Their famous Kinder Bueno cookies and Protein balls are to die for! And don’t forget to check them out: