The new Jesmond coffee van offering you a mental health boost and maybe even a free drink
Owner Jim is friendly and chatty and you might even get a free coffee if you’re lucky
The two key things I took away from the absolute train wreck that was 2020 was the importance of looking after each other and that life is too short to drink rubbish coffee. This new, local, business packs these two very important lessons into one, friendly coffee van.
As well as a chat, potential free coffee, and a convenient location (right by Jesmond metro), Chin Up Coffee also gives out free mental health advice provided by Mind and donates 15 per cent of its profits to mental health charities. The coffee cups are recyclable and waste grounds are given to Ouseburn Farm to use as fertiliser for their crops.
Owner Jim set up the caring coffee kiosk after his own struggles with his mental health when often he found a simple “How are you?” from a barista was the only thing getting him through the hardest days.
“I’ve struggled with my own mental health and the biggest thing was isolation. I’d go days and days without speaking to anyone”
Chin Up coffee (@chinupcoffee on Instagram) offers affordable coffee from Fika Coffee Roasters, cold soft drinks from Steep Soda Co., yummy snacks from Brew and Bite, but most importantly they offer a service that is often more difficult to access; a chat. The understanding that you aren’t all alone in the world is worth more than all the fresh roasted coffee in Brazil.
Chin Up also offers a ‘coffee for a stranger’ scheme where any customer can pay a cup of coffee forward as a surprise for the next person who visits. The idea came from a visit to Ireland where Jim and his family were lost on the journey.
“My parents were getting very stressed, to put it lightly, this was before the internet and Ireland was like a labyrinth, so we stopped and asked a cyclist to help us” The stranger had never heard of the hotel they were looking for but offered to cycle around to try and find it. When he returned with directions to the hotel, he told them to tell the receptionist checking them in a password.
“My dad was wearing a Liverpool shirt and when we got to the hotel the receptionist asked us if we had a password and we were like oh yeah ‘Liverpool’. She took us over to the bar and he’d bought my mum and dad a bottle of wine and me and my brother some fruit shoots”
This event really stuck with Jim and the ‘coffee for a stranger’ scheme gives his customers the option to make another person’s day the same way his was all those years ago.
“That friendly Irish cycler proper stuck with me, that’s where the idea came from. He really didn’t need to do that.”
Receiving one of these free coffees creates the same feelings Jim and his family felt that day in Ireland and reminds his customers of the kindness of others, as well as facilitating the opportunity to pay it forward and put the same back into the world.
You never know when a pandemic is going to shut down non-essential businesses and make anything more sophisticated than a cup of instant more difficult to access than a large gathering of over 30 people, it’s worth visiting as a precaution.
For more information about Chin Up’s opening times, legacy, and pictures of dogs with their noses in coffee cups visit @chinupcoffee on Instagram.
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