From cows to coffee

Vosberg opens mobile business

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CUBA CITY, Wis. — Tabitha Vosberg has always been slightly enamored with coffee. She even named one of her cow families with coffee names. Now, she has combined her love of coffee and cows in her new business, Farm Girl Coffee Shoppe LLC.

“I wanted to start a business of some sort and have an income off the farm just because farming is not easy or lucrative,” Vosberg said. “This is a way to support myself a little more.”

Vosberg works with her family on their 145-cow dairy farm near Cuba City. She is in charge of managing the evening milking and is a co-herdsman. She also does all the breeding on the farm, and, during crop time, she is out in the fields with her father, Tim, and her siblings.

The idea for a mobile coffee shop started a little over a year ago. Vosberg and her family were discussing the growth of the nearby town Kieler and said it could really use a good coffee shop. Vosberg started pursuing the idea while finishing her studies at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College. She graduated in May with a degree in farm operations and management with an emphasis on dairy.

Vosberg purchased a flatbed trailer and built the coffee trailer from scratch. The outer boards on the trailer came from the barn decorated with a flag on the Vosberg farm. The original part of the barn is constructed from wood from the 1800s, preserved perfectly for use on the coffee trailer.

“The barn boards haven’t seen weather for over 100 years,” Vosberg said. “It was the original horse barn. They added onto it but left the exterior boards in the middle inside. We ended up just taking those boards back.”

The rest of the trailer was built with help from her dad and former farm employees who have a construction businesses of their own. The inspection process was challenging because it is so different from farm inspections, Vosberg said. She had to have every piece of equipment documented, including the wattage of everything in the trailer and the entire plan on paper.

Vosberg learned about the coffee business by shadowing other baristas, interviewing coffee shop owners and watching YouTube videos. She said it is a craft she is still perfecting.

“I know how to dairy farm; I did not know how to make coffee,” Vosberg said. “I’ve learned a lot of people do things differently, so you have to have your own way of doing things.”

Vosberg offers lattes, Americano, caramel macchiato, chai tea, drip coffee and Lotus Energy drinks. She also has a vast selection of flavored syrups.

She has learned the difference between making traditional coffee from Europe, where a lot of the drinks were originally invented, and modern, more American coffee. The biggest difference is the size of the drinks Vosberg said. Vosberg offers 12- and 16-ounce drinks, because she feels they appeal to her customer base.

In the process of learning how to make coffee, Vosberg said she learned more about milk as well, along with the science behind the steaming process.

“It’s interesting to learn more about milk from the aspect of the end product rather than at the beginning,” Vosberg said.

The coffee trailer was first opened in April one day a week because Vosberg was still in school. Now that she has graduated, she is open Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. She rents a spot in Kieler next to the Casey’s gas station near U.S. Highway 151. Here she has access to electricity, though she now has a generator as well which will offer flexibility for events.

A typical day for Vosberg begins around 5 a.m. when she wakes up to get the coffee machines started. She drives one mile to her designated spot and gets ready for customers. So far, her highest number of customers in a day was 42. Vosberg said her peak time is around 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. during the weekdays. On Saturdays, customers tend to arrive later.

Vosberg has kept her advertising to a minimum, just posting on social media. She said she would like to get more comfortable with making coffee and handling customers before she tries to draw too big of a crowd.

“My sisters jump in and help when they want to just for funsies, so that’s really helpful,” Vosberg said. “I’ll try to handle it mostly by myself but if it picks up enough then I’ll have to hire somebody.”

Vosberg said that dairy farming has helped her handle becoming an entrepreneur.

“In farming, nothing ever goes perfectly as planned and you have to be able to make quick decisions and go with the flow,” Vosberg said. “That really has helped me because it’s problem solving. That’s definitely a skill that you need with any business.”

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