Neighborly Natalie: Coffee truck warms hearts of Batesburg-Leesville


Imagine waking up, getting ready for work and needing that fresh cup of gourmet coffee to start your day...

Sounds like the all too common scenario, but those living in the Batesburg-Leesville area have to drive for miles for their morning perk.

In this week's "Neighborly Natalie," we find out how one man is doing the unthinkable just so his community can get its daily caffeine fix.

Whether it's a cup of coffee, espresso or latte, that caffeine fix helps get many running in the morning but the Batesburg-Leesville community didn't have a local gourmet coffee place to call their own until Carlos Velez's iCrave Cafe truck claimed its spot on the corner of Mitchell Street and East Main Street.

"At first I was a little bit leery because a lot of people want to come out here and park and they sell just random junk and whatever. But he told me he was doing coffee and I was really impressed," says Jay Soileau.

The StrongBody Fitness Owner quickly became a loyal iCrave Cafe customer.

He even has his own specially made drink with four shots of espresso, almond milk topped with either honey and chocolate.

It's these unique options and many others that has Soileau spreading the word about this unique coffee truck to all of his fitness clients.

"Carlos is very good about making a healthier option if they want something a little lower in calorie and kind of customizes the drinks," he says.

Before iCrave Cafe opened, those looking to get their cup of gourmet coffee had to travel about 30-minutes to Lexington but now those living in the Batesburg-Leesville area can just come here.

The iCrave Cafe fan base also extends that way too.

Vickie Orr lives about 25-miles away.

She's an Awards Card Customer where for every ten cups of coffee you get one free and it's causing some friendly competition around town.

"I have a friend that is competiting and she hasn't been down here often enough to even redeem one and I've already redeemed one and I'm almost halfway through another one," explains the customer from Pelion, S.C.

"It's a relationship and yes it's growing quickly. I'm surprised I opened the business in the summer which is really the hardest part of the year to open a business especially a coffee truck," says iCrave Cafe Owner Carlos Velez.

Velez says that just as his customers are supporting a local business he is supporting and choosing to only use product from a local coffee roasting company which allows him to serve the freshest brews at the most affordable price.

"It's very comparable and even better than most and that's surprising because when you pass by he's in a little trailer and you don't expect that" adds Soileau.

Good coffee is a pleasure but those serving it make it a treasure.

For now, Velez will continue to grow his gourmet coffee truck business in the Batesburg-Leesville area but hopes some day to turn iCrave Cafe into a franchise so possible big plans for the the future.

Other places that you can purchase your next "cup of Joe" in the Batesburg-Leesville area include Inside Out Cafe (442 E Railroad Avenue) and Fashioned in Faith Studio & Coffee (115 Main Street).

Each week, WACH FOX's Natalie Parsons gets out in the Columbia metro to see what's going on around the Midlands.

If you would like your town featured on next week's "Neighborly Natalie" then be sure to send an email ( or contact her via Facebook or Twitter.

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