We catch up with Jim Cregan, the dude behind Jimmy’s Iced Coffee, to find out where the idea came from and what food makes his heart sing.
Hey Jimmy, tell us a bit about your background and upbringing?
Yo! I’m Jim Cregan from Dorset. My sister Suze and I were born in Dubai where our parents worked at the time. Dubai, when I was growing up, was nothing like it is today, no sprawling skyscrapers just lots of unspoilt desert. I left when I was 18 and came to the UK to study and although I love it there, I’ve only been back a couple of times since. My dad was in the army in Oman and met my mum in Spain, they’re not massively entrepreneurial but I always knew I wanted to do my own thing. I realised this when I was in Bournemouth, and set up a small beer delivery service with a friend. Among other small creative ‘business’ ideas, I always had my eye out for any little thing I could do or sell.
Jimmy’s Iced Coffee was born seven years ago. My love affair with iced coffee started in Australia. I’d never had it before, but I stopped at a petrol station one day and came across Farmer’s Union Iced Coffee. We were on a long journey and I wanted something to keep me going but I didn’t want an energy drink. I cracked it open and it was a revelation for me – I drank two or three a day for the rest of my time in Oz. It kept me awake on long drives, sorted stupid hangovers, and was a perfect post-surf pick-me-up. When I found out Farmer’s Union wasn’t available in the UK, I wanted to either bring the brand home with me or make and sell my own. When I couldn’t get the licensing, Suze and I started experimenting with recipes in her café in Bournemouth. A few months later we were launching in Selfridges! We’ve come a long way since then but you know one of the great things? Some of the dudes (customers) who met us and tried our iced coffee on that first day (April 2011) are still with us today and that is rad. We’re now stocked in over 3,000 stores across the UK!
Tell us about the ingredients you use?
We carefully consider every ingredient and meticulously blend them to create the most super refreshing Iced Coffee out there. For The Original we use British semi-skimmed milk, Arabica coffee and demerara sugar. Simple.
Our milk comes from the West Country and only travels a few miles to get to our production place. I visited one of our farms the other day and it was ace to see a queue of cows waiting to have their back scratched. We’re also pleased to say that coffee across our range is about to be Rainforest Alliance certified. We also use ethically sourced demerara sugar and are proud to use less sugar in our products than many of our competitors.
What’s the most popular flavour you offer?
Our Original, but the Mocha isn’t far behind!
How often do you work on new flavours?
We’ve always got ideas simmering, but it’s when we spot an opportunity that we know our customers would love that matches what our stockists are asking for, then the real magic happens.
Can you tell us about your Team?
They are freakin’ awesome! They are passionate about what we do and treat Jimmy’s as if it’s their own.
How would you describe the brand?
Totally rad. We’ve developed a lifestyle around the brand so we’ve got more to chat to people about that just our Iced Coffee. We’re all about getting out there, getting moving, doing the stuff you love (we’ve created our RideClub for all the dudes who want to do just that) and Keeping Your Chin Up – always.
What does Jimmy’s Ice Coffee mean to you?
It means I’m in charge of my own destiny when it comes to work and that’s the most exciting part. It means I can meet new people, learn new things, get nervous, be challenged and generally feel alive. Business is rad.
What advice would you give to young foodies aspiring to achieve what you have?
Don’t do it unless you are a complete mental optimist that doesn’t mind ‘no sleep or mates’ for about 4 years.
Hmmm, ok, maybe not!
Eating an arctic roll. Vanilla ice cream with a raspberry coating and a cake outer. Insane.
Is there any food that makes you particularly happy or angry?
Rustlers burgers make me angry, but so do high end drinks claiming to make your fingernails turn into slabs of polished concrete. I love food and drink that makes your heart sing from simply great ingredients, branding and packaging.
Where do you think food is most exciting right now? London? Melbourne? USA? Europe?
If I had time to travel the globe looking at food and drink I would comment, but I don’t. However, pop into your local off licence in Shoreditch and you’ll be confronted with 80 IPA’s to choose from. Your local Tesco will also have some insanely cool products on the shelf, you just need to look further than your 500ml plastic bottle of Fanta.
What’s your favourite restaurant/street food in the UK/Europe/World?
Sharjah Eppco Petrol Station (in the UAE) for 3 chicken shawarma sandwiches and hopefully a Jimmy’s Iced Coffee sometime soon. Done.
If you want to feel at home, where do you go for a bite to eat in London when you’re not working?
Stoked you’ve asked this question. Maroush, my favourite restaurant is round the corner from Harrods. You can sit at the bar and watch the food being made and the smell is just incredible. Secondly, head to Zeit and Zaatar on Uxbridge Road for a cheese manish with zaatar. Wow. Cheap and so SO tasty.
What’s the one thing you miss about home?
The lack of stress and rush. It was pretty chilled in the UAE back in the day and I bloody love chilling.
Anything exciting in the pipeline?
Always! People are going to be seeing a lot more of the Jimmy’s Crew out and about next year – so if you haven’t tried a Jimmy’s Iced Coffee yet, you can rest assured that we’ll be coming to a place near you soon!
Sounds fun! If you see the Jimmy team make sure you say hi from us!