Mobile coffee bar The Spilt Milk Café to launch in March at locations around St. Louis

Launching in March, mobile coffee bar The Spilt Milk Café will be appearing at farmers markets around St. Louis, as well as taking reservations for private events. Owner Phoebe Cuevas said the coffee cart is her first step on the road to eventually launching a brick-and-mortar cafe.    

In her previous career as a graphic designer, Cuevas worked on branding for a number of coffee and tea companies. “Then about two years ago, I quit that job and decided I wanted to be a barista, which has been kind of a longtime pipe dream of mine since I was younger,” she said. Cuevas worked at a series of cafes, gained her barista certification from the American Coffee Association, and took part in a number of barista competitions. She’s currently juggling the launch of The Spilt Milk Café with her role managing a coffee shop in Belleville. “I really threw myself into it, and it's just become a complete passion of mine,” Cuevas said. “If I didn't already love coffee, I certainly do now.”

The coffee cart will offer a range of espresso drinks, including a few Mexican-inspired drinks like cafe de olla. Cuevas’ father is Mexican, and she spent most of her childhood and teenage years in Mexico, moving to Coxcatlan, Puebla, when she was 9 years old. Although her passion for the art of coffee wouldn’t truly flourish until many years later, anecdotes from Cuevas’ childhood suggest she was at least coffee curious from a young age.

“I do have a journal entry from when I was 8 years old saying that I was so excited to turn 10 so that I could finally be allowed to drink coffee, because it would bring me one step closer to owning a coffee shop one day,” she said. The family had a couple of coffee trees in their back yard, and Cuevas remembers taking an interest in roasting her own beans, as well as infusing coffee with a variety of fruit flavors. “That was definitely something that was a hobby of mine and my dad’s while I lived there,” she said.

The Spilt Milk Café will also offer a few seasonal drinks, which will include coffees and tea-based drinks, as well as things like a hot cocoa for winter with a little added chili powder. “Just a slight kick, it keeps you warmer a little longer,” Cuevas said. She’ll also be offering her horchata, which she said was well received during a recent trial run. Cuevas is exploring partnering with a number of local roasters, but she hasn’t settled on any one bean supplier yet.

The coffee bar will also stock a range of syrups that Cuevas makes herself. Again, that lineup will change with the seasons: Cuevas’ spring syrups include lavender, brown sugar, cinnamon and chocolate. “I have a peanut butter and jelly syrup that was pretty popular last summer that I made for a cafe I was working at,” she said. Cuevas is also a baker, and has recently secured a commissary space that will allow her to create savory and sweet food items, including Mexican-inspired pastries.  

Cuevas said the rise of thriving Mexican restaurants and bakeries in the St. Louis region, especially around community hubs like Cherokee Street, has enabled greater appreciation for the more Mexican-inspired offerings on The Spilt Milk Cafe’s menu. “I think that nowadays there's a real importance to really understand where things are coming from, both from an ethical standpoint but also so many of us are trying to figure out where we came from and how that connects to our identity and so many other things,” Cuevas said.

That said, Cuevas said her goal isn’t necessarily to “educate” people on the cultural background. “I think so long as you're open to trying something and you like it, I’m OK with you not knowing exactly where it comes from, or exactly how to pronounce it,” she said. “I'm just glad you had an open mind enough to try it and enjoy it.”

Blueberry orange scone at The Spilt Milk Cafe // photo courtesy of The Spilt Milk Cafe

The coffee bar is already available for reservations for private events, and Cuevas said that by next month The Spilt Milk Café will debut at farmers markets around St. Louis. Cuevas would also like to find a place where she could station the cart on a semi-permanent basis, but she must first navigate the permitting process. “We’re anticipating to be able to do that in the summer time,” she said.

Cuevas said she hopes to launch a brick-and-mortar coffee shop in the not-too-distant future, but she has settled on the coffee cart while she figures out a physical location. “My plans for 2024 were to start an actual physical brick-and-mortar cafe in the town where I live, but plans fell through with the building that I was looking at,” Cuevas said.

To book The Spilt Milk Café for an event, contact Cuevas via The Spilt Milk Café’s Instagram @thespiltmilkcafe or by email to

Editor's note: This article was updated on February 13, 2024, to note that The Spilt Milk Cafe already has a commissary for preparing food. Also, a correction: Phoebe Cuevas was 9 years old when her family moved to Mexico, not 7 years old as originally published.