One man’s story – from homeless Uber driver to ‘viral’ barista

April 3, 2024

  One man’s story – from homeless Uber driver to ‘viral’ barista

Jon “Patchy” Low in the spot where his first viral Tiktok was filmed. Photo: Luke McHale

Homeless barista Jon “Patchy” Low fueled interest in his Queen Street based cafe done out of a shopping trolley, Patchy’s Coffee, thanks to two TikTok videos that went viral.

His business received an espresso shot after a security guard working in Auckland’s Commercial Bay saw him selling instant coffee from a shopping trolley and published two TikTok videos highlighting the enterprise.

Jon was surprised and delighted by the instant response.

“They started to get tens of thousands of views and because of that, people were starting to come up to me on the streets.

“They would make their own TikToks and that was sort of like a snowball thing that really got the momentum going.”

Inspired by the videos, Auckland resident and coffee lover Katelyn Ware helped Jon to start a Give a Little Page.

“Hearing his story, and it’s quite a sad story to hear obviously, he’s got quite an open mind on what he actually wants to do,” she said.

The former homeless Uber driver started Patchy's Coffee to make a better life for himself and to follow a long-held ambition.

“I’ve always just been passionate about business ideas. It's not about fame or about money. I get very inspired by cool startup concepts.”

However, his journey was not easy. After his marriage broke up, he was forced to live out of a car that doubled as his Uber business.

Then while dropping off a delivery, his car was stolen leaving him without a place to sleep or work from.

This eventually led him to resort to begging on Queen Street.

But he saved his tips and used them to invest in his shopping trolley coffee business, spending an initial $90 for a thermos flask, kettle and ingredients.

Jon now sells coffee for $1.50. For $2.00 dollars customers also get two cookies.

With his pricing, he is looking to undercut the infamously expensive coffee in Auckland's CBD.

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