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From Campervan Coffee to Artisan Coffee Bar

The Thirsty Elephant is a small independent coffee shop which has comfortably nestled itself on Pontyclun high street. If you’re looking for a warm cup of Joe with a smiley knowledgeable barista, this is the place to go! Serving up Coaltown Coffee Roasters as their home brew, it’s a stunning example of the flavours Wales has on offer.

He learned the art of coffee whilst working at Starbucks to pick up the basics. After saving up for a year he bought his van and spent the next two years seeing what customers liked. Whilst travelling he realised he wanted to have a regular customer base showing up for his coffee. Realising there were hardly any coffee shops in the area, he decided to look for a shop spot for his coffee company.

Chris Lane, owner of The Thirsty Elephant didn’t start his journey from brick and mortar.…. Chris tied his love of coffee and travelling together through his campervan, Florence, in which he served coffee from every Monday to Friday outside Pontyclun train station. When the weekend came along he and Florence toured the country trying the road roasted coffee at festivals and events.

The shop opened in 2019 and has been pouring perfect cups of coffee ever since. The Thirsty Elephant pride themselves prides itself on their use of sustainable products to reduce waste and recycle as much as possible. For example their reusable coffee cups and low waste takeaway cups. After opening, Chris realised there was also another gap in the market in Pontyclun and that came in the form of bars. After enquiring about licenses and a few mock trials, the coffee cup by day, cocktail curations by night became a hit in Pontyclun. With sold out nights and endless bookings, the bar aspect of The Thirsty Elephant meant it could provide more services to customers.

Then when everything seemed to be going in their favour, lockdown hit and The Thirsty Elephant had to shut up shop and wait. In the meantime the cogs kept turning and they opened a delivery service throughout Pontyclun. I managed to get my hands on one of the grazing boards during lockdown and it was the perfect way to indulge on the weekend with a fine selection of cheese, olives and cured meats.

Since the lifting of lockdown the bar has been full every weekend yet allowing walk-ins for the coffee shop in the day. This gives everybody the opportunity to stop in and visit The Thirsty Elephant again after re-opening.

Chris is now looking to expand even more by adding a restaurant to the place with the idea of serving brunch by day and tapas by night. From fuelling the van to fuelling his ideas, The Thirsty Elephant remains a strong presence in Pontyclun. We hope to try the brunch alongside a cup of Welsh brew soon....

Check out to book a table and keep up with what's next.

The Thirsty Elephant currently open Friday - Sunday 10am - 10pm


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