So, my first blog for The Thirsty Elephant. Actually, thinking about it, this will be my first blog ever so please go easy on me. I feel that when putting a blog together, your personality really has to shine through your words… Now my language isn’t the cleanest, so if you are easily offended by someone cursing on the odd occasion, then I am not sure this will be for you.

I have been back and forth with my thoughts on what to write for a few weeks now and have come to the conclusion that the best place to start would be back in 2015 on the 26th of July, which is the date that I bought my beloved campervan, and where the business started really. Yes, the same campervan that many of you will have purchased a coffee from. Now, the business itself is just about to creep into its third year but I had the idea for a coffee van well before The Thirsty Elephant came along.

People ask me the same few questions wherever I go, it could be London, Manchester or even on my doorstep in little ol’ Pontyclun. But the same few questions every time…

‘Where did you get the idea from?’

‘Why coffee?’

‘How long have you been going?’

How did you come up with the name?’

Amongst other questions…

Now, I’ll be honest with you… When we attend events, we must come across tens of thousands of people each summer and I have lost count of how many times I have been asked each question. You must be thinking ‘He must get sick of answering the same question, time and time again, no?’

Your damn right, I’m bloody sick of it!

I’m kidding of course. I really do enjoy telling people the story of The Thirsty Elephant and how it all came to light and I will never get tired of seeing how interested people are in something that I created. For me it’s the easiest job in the world, I get to chat to people all day, serving up some of the best coffee this country has on offer. What more could you want?

Anyway, back to how it all started. So, after buying my beautiful 1974 VW bay window Australian import campervan the plan was to get some use out of her before converting her into the little coffee van she is today. This consisted of taking her down the beach, travelling the beautiful coastline we are so fortunate to have and camping out, star gazing.

Being a big lover of travelling, I decided to head over to the other side of the world for nine months before starting the business as I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to go away a lot when it all got going. I went travelling to have a good time and to hopefully learn a little more about coffee but I’ll be honest with you, the second I got out there, coffee went out the window and I realised that my priorities shifted and it was all about having a great time, getting pissed (that’s drunk for any Americans out there) and just escaping from reality really. Don’t panic, I won’t bore you with tales from my travels… I’ll save that for another blog.

On my return from travelling, I realised that it was time to pull my finger out and get this business started. So first things first, I got a job in a coffee shop to gain vital experience on customers likes, dislikes, how coffee shops operated and all the ins and outs that go on behind the scenes. I had no experience with coffee before this job, other than a barista course I took when I was in Sydney, but to be honest, I didn’t really learn anything from that, other than how to make a little heart when attempting to do some latte art. During my time working, I would be planning and prepping the van to get its conversion underway. I eventually left my job a few months before the van was up and running. The conversion itself took around 3 months to complete due to the job being so unique. The wonderful guys at Tudor Catering Trailers based up in Weston Super Mare did a fantastic job and kept me in the loop at all times. If it wasn’t for them, who knows how different the van may look today.

After the work was finally complete, it was time to get out there and start making some money. I started by working every weekday morning down my local train station, my local market on a Saturday and whatever was available on a Sunday. I also juggled a number of events throughout the summer taking me all over the country.

Now, this all sounds smooth sailing, right? WRONG! As much as I loved my new job and being my own boss, it came with its downfalls, and not only that it was really hard having to rely solely on yourself for an income and not get a basic salary. I thought to myself, ‘look, the harder I work, the more money I’ll make’. WRONG AGAIN! In some instances, I would be working my bollocks off for 10 days straight and have nothing to show for it. But that is just part of being self-employed and working off your own back, you win some and you lose some. For me personally, the wins outweigh the losses by some margin, and not just on the money front, but I was doing something that I loved, and that’s all it’s about at the end of the day.

So, that is just a brief overlook of how The Thirsty Elephant got started. Oh, talking about The Thirsty Elephant, I never told you guys where the name came from. Our most popular question of all. Originally, before I shot off to the other side of the world, I had the idea to name the company ‘OmCoffee’. Now I know what you are thinking, and yes, I agree, what a shit name. I was in a different place in my life at that time and I won’t lie to you, I really loved the name when I heard it out loud for the first time, but thank God I didn’t keep it. When I came home, I knew that one of my biggest tasks would be the name itself and I was so fortunate that it just popped into my head when sitting down for lunch with a friend. As a massive elephant lover, my friend said to me ‘Why don’t you get an Elephant drinking a coffee as your logo?’ Before a name had even been decided, and honestly the second she said that to me, the name ‘The Thirsty Elephant Coffee Company’ just popped into my head and it stuck. I went around to as many people as I could to ask them what they thought, and EVERYONE loved it. So there you have it, that’s where the name came from.

Now to those of you avid blog lovers out there who are now thinking to themselves, “That wasn’t a fucking blog”, well you are probably right. I have no idea what I am doing, but I thought I’d give it a go. I am not the most intelligent and school was never my strong suit, so this was never going to run smoothly the first-time round. Like, what is a blog, seriously, what on earth is a blog?! This is where I need feedback and peoples’ honest opinions. We won’t grow as a business and I sure as hell won’t grow as a person if I don’t get challenged. If that means the blogs I produce, our coffee van or even the new coffee shop, we want to be challenged and we want your feedback. At the end of the day, you guys are the ones keeping this business going so have your say!

Christopher Lane.