For most of us, our reality is a daily grind of 9 – 5. The prospect of leaving a stable and secure job for a different life can be daunting, but for Jess and Andy, the need to escape was a call too strong to ignore.
With a good dose of courage and support from their loved ones and a desire for adventure, they resigned from their jobs, packed up their lives in Melbourne and hit the road with no fixed address
Can you take us back to where this all began? What were you doing before you had the desire to pack up your life and swap it for adventure?
Jess: I was a hospitality trainer and part-time festival bar manager.
Andy: I was a high ropes window cleaner abseiling off buildings and also a freelance graphic designer in my spare time. Pretty much every weekend we’d be out exploring different spots around Vic in our campervan, Saffy. We hated having to go back to our jobs in Melbourne each Sunday evening.
What was the main drive to leave it all behind?
We realised how happy we were when we left the city behind for these weekend adventures. Our relationship grew stronger, we’d talk more, were carefree, had less stress, we were more spontaneous, there was less routine — and we loved it.
Tell us how the dream of Round & Round Traveling Coffee became a reality?
The idea came to us whilst on a road trip in March 2017. We were finding it hard to get a decent coffee between Melbourne – Adelaide, and then the light bulb moment. We chatted to family in Adelaide about our new idea, and they were super excited and agreed good coffee is hard to find in regional places.
We first needed a name and a brand, and that was Andy’s specialty. We had a favourite road trip song, Streets of your Town by Brissy band The Go-Betweens. The lyric, “Round and round, up and down, through the streets of your town” fit what we wanted to do.
From there, we got a big map of Australia and started plotting out the route and getting in touch with places that may like us to come and serve in their town – especially towns that didn’t even have cafés! The emails started flooding in, and we realised this could actually work!
We then worked out the best times of year to be in each place according to weather, holidays and events and started putting them in the diary. All of a sudden, we had lined up nine months of bookings
Explain what a typical day in the life of Jess and Andy and the travelling coffee van looks like.
We would usually stay between five – 10 days at one place. This allowed us to get to know our customers. We loved that in most places it was a slower pace and we could, with each coffee served, exchange travel tips and suggestions with our customers and build a following. Some people even changed their travel plans or went out of their way to find us on the road!
The best part of our day was getting to close the window at lunchtime and have the afternoon off to explore, swim, go for a bushwalk or just relax in beautiful locations in Australia.
You travelled as far as the Grampians to Cooktown, and Darwin to Eden. What is your number one experience from the trip?
Our number one experience on this trip was finding small towns where no coffee or cafés existed. Seeing the appreciation of the locals and getting to know their way of life. We served at outback stations and remote pubs, where people would not expect a good cup of coffee. We loved seeing their reactions when they tasted it. For some, it had been months since they’d tasted something so good!
On days off we’d stay at Youcamps (camping on private land) and met some amazing hosts that would have us in for dinner, and we made some really great friends.
You now call Port Macquarie home. What was it about our beautiful region that made you want to stay?
We stopped in Port Macquarie in March 2018. Serving at the breakwall holiday park, we got to meet so many locals, and were blown away by the welcoming, supportive and generous nature of people here. They were all so happy too! We came to the realisation that it may just be the most liveable place in Aus.
Being the outdoor types we are, we loved the coast, the nature and its wildlife – not to mention the weather; sure beats Melbourne!
How has Round & Round changed since you decided to make Port Macquarie your permanent address?
We now have a focus on local events, and it’s great to have a base; it sure makes ordering our coffee and other supplies easier! We are enjoying having a house and space to stretch out. We still love the van-life and will continue to explore the region, but at the moment we’re giving our well-loved Saffy (34-year-old Toyota Hiace) a well-deserved rest after her epic adventure.
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to take the leap into an adventurous on-road working life?
Have a plan and have a backup. Life on the road is expensive. Coffee alone did not fund our whole trip. We couldn’t have done it without our side business, “Design by Round & Round”, where Andy created logos and branding for other fellow travellers. If you choose something you’re already passionate about, it won’t feel like work. We were not in it for the money, but for the lifestyle, and wouldn’t change a thing.
What’s next for Round & Round Coffee, and how can people get in contact with you?
Reach out on social media. We have Facebook and Instagram — @roundandroundcoffee.
We can cater to anyone needing a unique coffee van, and we can even be set up as a bar for functions or weddings.
We are currently in negotiations for a Mon – Fri full-time spot here in Port, so keep an eye out once we can reveal this beautiful location, and drop in to hear more about our adventures. Most weekends, we are out and about at local events.
Thanks, Jess and Andy.