September 30, 2022


Qualified food specialists

Pair of Scotts Valley businesses partner to bring coffee, community together at Cruise Coffee Cafe

4 min read

The EFD stands for “Every F—— Day,” a smiling Erin Buchla says pointing to the acronym on the side of her nitro coffee cart.

The cheeky acronym pays homage to Buchla’s days making the commute over Highway 17 back and forth between Scotts Valley and San Jose. It’s that same commute that helped inspire her business’ namesake: Cruise Coffee.

And while the coffee cart may be sitting still, Buchla is doing anything but.

“We’re going to make a destination out of Scotts Valley,” she said.

Buchla and fellow Scotts Valley business owner, Brand-Di Palmer of Hot Pink Box Dessert Co., have partnered together to open Cruise Coffee Cafe inside the Cavallaro Transit Center.

The Cruise Coffee Company bicycle and nitro coffee stand sits inside Cruise Coffee Cafe.

The Cruise Coffee Company bicycle and nitro coffee stand sits inside Cruise Coffee Cafe.

(Neil Strebig / Lookout Santa Cruz )

Buchla handles the coffee and customer service side of things and Palmer handles the sweets.

The two had an atypical path into the hospitality industry. Buchla spent more than two decades working as a nanny before finding a two-foot-by-two-foot drive-thru to launch Cruise Coffee out of in 2018.

“The drive-thru was perfect for a start-up business,” she said.

Palmer spent the first half of her professional career as a behavioral therapist before committing to Hot Pink full-time in 2017. Her baking education and inspiration came largely from her mother who designed wedding cakes but it was ultimately dessert catering that hooked Palmer.

“I realized I did not love doing wedding cakes. I liked doing little yummy desserts,” she said, adding that her goal was to make sure her desserts not only looked the part but also tasted as good as advertised.

The two met in 2018 when Palmer, a board member for the Scotts Valley Chamber of Commerce, was organizing the Scotts Valley Art & Wine Festival. Palmer was searching for a local coffee vendor and discovered Buchla’s humble drive-thru along Mount Hermon Road.

A friendship blossomed from there and when Buchla was approached about opening a cafe in the former site of Cafe Amigo adjacent to the Scotts Valley bus depot she would call in the favor.

“I knew if I took over this space I would want a bakery,” Bulcha said. And Palmer was her “go-to” choice.

Erin Buchla (left) and Brandi-Di Palmer (right) of  Cruise Coffee Cafe in Scotts Valley.

Erin Buchla (left) and Brandi-Di Palmer (right) pose for a photo inside Cruise Coffee Cafe in Scotts Valley. The pair of businesses owners partnered to open the new cafe, located at 246 Kings Village Road, last month. Cruise Coffee Cafe will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony this Thursday from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

(Neil Strebig / Lookout Santa Cruz)

The cafe features Cruise Coffee, bread and bagels from Sourdough Mama’s, a Ben Lomond-based bakery, deli sandwiches and a litany of pastries, cakes, and sweets from Hot Pink Box Dessert Co. The cafe opened on June 12. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for Thursday from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

“I was not expecting what we got,” said Buchla regarding the grand opening last month that felt as if residents came out of “hibernation” and that daily walks or visits to Cruise have become part of many of their regulars’ routines.

“We’re the fabric of the community,” Palmer said.

The kinship the two share with one another is evident. They have a mutual understanding of each other’s strengths business-wise. Yet, the core spirit of this business partnership may come from a shared conviction — a mutual goal to help give back to a community they both adore.

“This is a charming town. It’s a Hallmark town,” Palmer said, adding that while Scotts Valley has its anecdotal charm, commerce can travel.

“We go to Santa Cruz for food and entertainment and we want to keep a lot of that here,” she said.

Whether it’s promoting other locally-owned stores such as Sourdough Mama’s, or showcasing local artist work such as Sarah Jane Morabito’s hand-painted charcuterie boards or hosting live entertainment; the duo wants to ensure the new cafe is a community hub.

“We just feel like we’ve had our visioncome to life in front of us and that feels so good,” Buchla said.

Cruise Coffee Cafe is open daily from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is located at 246 Kings Village Road in Scotts Valley.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Carla Martinez’s artist work was on display at the cafe. The artist is Sarah Jane Morabito.

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