Coffee High

Kimberly Ruosch and Nick Busby got off the festival circuit to serve coffee to Pisgah Forest outdoorsy types. Photo by Rimas Zailskas

When it comes to coffee, Kimberly Ruosch has bean around. In her coffee truck, The Velvet Cup, she’s sold her wares across the eastern seaboard. Now her business is rooted in Brevard.
Ruosch, who owns the truck with her husband Nick Busby, grew up in the West Coast coffee mecca of Seattle but grew tired of her career as a corporate graphic designer there. She moved to Western North Carolina with no ideas of what was next. Eventually she leaned on her previous working experience in coffee and opened The Velvet Cup in 2011.

For several years, Ruosch took the truck up and down the East Coast and set up at music festivals before she settled in a space at The Hub and Pisgah Tavern, a bicycle, outdoor gear, and beer shop just outside the Pisgah National Forest gate in Brevard.

She only does one festival now, Florida’s Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival, but is sometimes hired to provide service on movie sets (the truck worked Woody Harrelson’s locally filmed Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Game of Thrones’ star Emilia Clarke’s film Above Suspicion in Kentucky).

What’s your experience in coffee?
I have an abundance of barista background. When you live in Seattle, that’s what you do for a first job. It’s like bartending — it’s just what you do. I worked for Tully’s Coffee for a long time and was in barista competitions for them.

Why did you start a coffee truck?
I was already incredibly intrigued by food vending at music festivals and how much money there was to be made. I love the food-truck scene and I thought, “What could I do to blend all this together so I can be happy and not go back to an office?” It was a smorgasbord of avoiding what made me unhappy and trying to move closer to what would make me happy. I cashed in my 401k and bought myself a truck.

What’s in the name?
I picked it because in Seattle we have a way of foaming milk, which is used in lattes or cappuccinos, and if you do it correctly it lays like velvet. I decided to incorporate that into the name.

You have a few other specialties …
We do hot mini donuts and we dress them with cinnamon sugar or salted caramel, [plus] a weekly donut that’s different. [A reviewer on the Velvet Cup’s Facebook page declared that the pastries are so intoxicating “they should come come with a warning label before driving.”] We also do a protein shake that can range from 25 to 32 grams of protein. We get a lot of bike riders, hikers, and runners, and that seems to be a hit.

What was the work on movie sets like?
It’s all late-night service, and that was interesting. We’d work all day and then have two hours to get to the set and then work from 11pm to 4am. I felt like a rock star … my body was giving out on me. It hurt.

Do you miss being on the road doing music festivals?
Sometimes I do get those moments, when I think about it. Of course, the music and the lifestyle I miss, but, since we’re home, we can go see more music and not have to work. I miss the high of it.

The Velvet Cup Coffee Truck is most often found at The Hub and Pisgah Tavern (72 Pisgah Hwy.), open 8am-5pm. For more information, call 828-565-1252 or see thevelvetcupcoffeetruck.com.

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