At Carrboro's Tin Cup Joe, a hunting camper turned coffee trailer, owner Chris Jordan is serving a Dr Pepper latte. You're going to want to visit.
Above, Tin Cup Joe owner Chris Jordan stands in his hunting camper turned coffee trailer. Photo by Austin Goins.
Tin Cup Joe
102 S. Merritt Mill Road
Chris Jordan only had $60 in his pocket when he opened the window of a camouflage-hunting-camper-turned-coffee-trailer. He painted over the camouflage, and now the camper isn’t so hard to spot. With that, Tin Cup Joe was born.
The tiny trailer right past Shaka Shave displays camper-shaped hanging lights, a framed picture of Elvis on a velvet canvas and a cup of fettuccine stirrers, all on top of a countertop made of pennies that Jordan constructed himself. Despite this unusual scene — and Jordan’s distinctive gold glasses and tattoo creeping out of his shirtsleeve — the most interesting thing about Tin Cup Joe is the menu. It’s home to the Dr Pepper Latte.
“When I was a kid, on cold nights, if we didn’t have hot chocolate, we’d have hot Dr Pepper,” Jordan said. “We’d literally heat up an open can of Dr Pepper.”
Jordan’s favorite childhood drink, paired with his temporary career as a bartender, resulted in the invention of a one-of-a-kind treat. He uses real Dr Pepper syrup to create either a hot or iced soda-flavored coffee. It’s a drink that, even if you think you won’t like it, you have to try at least once.
Tin Cup Joe has a lot of traditional coffee drinks, such as a cappuccino and a dirty chai. But they’ve got unique drinks, too. In addition to the Dr Pepper Latte, there’s a lavender flavored latte and a Smurf, a blue raspberry cream-flavored Italian soda.
“I’m not proponing eating Smurfs, but that’s how I imagine they taste,” Jordan said. “It looks like Gargamel finally won an episode.”
The coolest menu in Carrboro continues with delicious local flavors like candied ginger and an horchata latte, made with horchata from Tacos El Niño, a food truck in Carrboro. Jordan gets his coffee from Carrboro Coffee Roasters and his dairy from Homeland Creamery, furthering his cause to stay as local (to the place he’s called home for 18 years) as possible.
Tin Cup Joe began with nothing more than an espresso machine Jordan bought from his coworker’s dad and a camouflage hunting camper. One of Jordan’s friends cut a hole in the side of the camper and installed the window. Another rewired it to handle all the electrical coffee equipment. Jordan himself finished the rest of what’s now the most unique coffee shop in Carrboro, right in his driveway.
Before Tin Cup Joe, Jordan dropped out of Baylor University, took a road job and hit 37 states. In 1999, he found his way to North Carolina for an ex-girlfriend, using a Greyhound bus ticket he bought using his tax return money. He probably never thought he would eventually become a bartender, a barista at Looking Glass Cafe and the owner of a coffee shop on wheels. But here he is.
“This is mine,” Jordan said. “I built this, and I want to keep it forever.”