Coffee Companions

Rural Coffee Caravan is delighted to be the new home for Coffee Companions and Chat Mats.

Coffee Companions, a social enterprise founded by Caroline Billington in 2016, offers people sat in coffee shops anywhere the opportunity to strike up a friendly conversation and maybe make a new friend.

Coffee Companions ‘Chat Mats’ are a wonderful and simple idea which remove attempts at trying to ‘mind-read’ whether someone sitting in a coffee shop would be open to chatting, or would rather be left undisturbed. Carry them with you and when sat having your cuppa, your Chat Mat can display ‘Say Hello’ if you’d be happy to be approached for a natter, or ‘Not Today’ if you’d prefer some privacy on that occasion.

Coffee Companions Groups

We’ll be updating this list of Coffee Companions Groups as new venues come on board. Keep checking back or register your interest if you’d like to start one near you!

  • Coffee Companions logo people sitting with their cuppasThe Bridge Fair Trade Shop

    Open Tuesday to Saturday 10am – 3pm

    24 Trinity Road, Weymouth DT4 8TJ

    We are open for coffee, tea or hot chocolate Tuesday – Saturday 10.00 – 3.00 (the shop closes at 4.00). We have an upstairs seating area overlooking Weymouth harbour, the perfect spot to stop for a chat while watching the world go by. If there is no one else there and you are looking for a chat you will always be welcome to sit at the table downstairs and chat to our lovely volunteers. We have Fairtrade flapjacks and cookies available to go with your freshly brewed tea or coffee. Call 01305 772842 for more information. The Bridge Facebook Page

  • Coffee Companions logo people sitting with their cuppasThe Hinton Hub, Dorset

    Monsdays 10 am – 12 noon

    Village Hall, Hinton St Mary, Sturminster Newton, DT10 1NA

    Join Coffee Companions at the Hinton Hub for some friendly company & chat over a free cuppa. Our first event is on 19th August (with a well-being theme). Proposed dates & themes for 2023 are as follows but may be subject to change – PLEASE CALL TO DOUBLE CHECK or LOOK OUT FOR POSTERS AT THE HUB:  23rd September – Macmillan coffee morning company & chat over a free cuppa.  Proposed 21st October – will be linked in with Hinton St Mary’s apple juicing day. 18th November – will be chargeable at £1.50 for unlimited tea and coffee with a raffle to raise money for the village Christmas party. 2nd December – a family Christmas movie afternoon between 2-5pm will replace the coffee morning. Call Gemma on 07752 761731 for more info and to confirm dates.

  • Coffee Companions logoThe Half Moon Inn, Shaftsbury, Dorset

     Mondays 2pm – 3pm

    Salisbury Road, Shaftesbury, Dorset SP7 8BS

    Feeling a bit lonely and would like some company? Just pop along for a chat and a cuppa. All welcome!

  • Coffee Companions logo people sitting with their cuppasCorn Exchange, Newbury

    Mondays (except Bank Hols) 10.30am – 12.30pm 

    Market Place, Newbury RG14 5BD

    This Coffee Companions session takes place in the Corn Exchange in-house cafe. Come along for some company and a chat and an opportunity to make new friends.
    By stopping by our café and bar you will also be supporting the Corn Exchange – every purchase you make helps us to deliver the range of shows, classes and events for all of the community. We work collaboratively with local caterers to provide seasonal offers, and we look forward to welcoming you. For more info call Katy Stevens on 01635 682666 extension 263. Corn Exchange website
  • Coffee Companions logo people sitting with their cuppasBwlchgwyn Village Hall, Wrexham 

    Tuesdays 10.30am – 12 noon

    Bwlchgwyn Village Hall, Stryt Maelor, Bwlchgwyn LL11 5YA

    Come and meet for coffee, tea and biscuits every Tuesday between 10.30am and midday. Guest speakers and activities will be arranged and advertised online and at the meeting. All residents over 50 in the Minera area are particularly welcome. Supported by Minera Community Agent For further details, contact Susanne (Minera Community Agent) by phone on 07988 025604 or by email.

  • Coffee Companions logo people sitting with their cuppasGuggleton Farm Arts, Dorset 

    Thursdays 11am – 12 noon

    Guggleton Farm, Station Road, Stalbridge, Dorset DT10 2RQ

    Share a chat and some company over a cuppa each Thursday! Organised by Blackmore Vale Coffee Companions. Contact Deanne at Guggleton Farm Arts on: 01963 363456 for more info. This is a dog friendly venue which runs a range of creative activities so there are other opportunities for socialising too.

  • Coffee Companions logo people sitting with their cuppasWaitrose Café, Gillingham

    Now on Thursdays 11am – 12pm

    Le Neuborg Way, Gillingham, Dorset SP8 4UA 

    Feeling a bit lonely and would like some company? Just turn up, buy your chosen refreshments as you would normally do from the cafe and join others sitting together and have a chat if you’d like to. Contact Beth on 07837 051655 or email her for more information. Gillingham Coffee Companions Facebook Page

  • Coffee Companions logo people sitting with their cuppasGillingham Library, Dorset 

    Tuesdays 11am – 12pm

    Chantry Fields, Gillingham, Dorset SP8 4UA

    Feeling a bit lonely and would like some company? Just turn up, join others sitting together and have a chat if you’d like to. Refreshments are provided but a donation of £1 per person is suggested. Please bring along your own mug for these sessions as there are no wash-up facilities at the library. Contact Beth on 07837 051655 or email her for more information. Gillingham Coffee Companions Facebook Page

  • Coffee Companions logo people sitting with their cuppasThe Country Market at The Exchange, Dorset 

    Tuesdays 10am – 11am

    The Exchange, Old Market Hill, Sturminster Newton, Dorset DT10 1FH

    Pop along for a chat and a cuppa each Tuesday! Organised by Blackmore Vale Coffee Companions. Tel: 07738 104905 for more info. The Exchange – website.

  • *More Coffee Companions Hours are in the planning. Keep checking back for updates!*

Get Involved

image of both sides of chat mats displayed on a table

Chat Mats

Chat Mats can help anytime, anywhere.

Share the link to our FREE downloadable/printable tester Chat Mats

(an A4 sheet with red/green tester Chat Mats to cut out, and thoughts on how to use them)

or get in touch if you’d like a Coffee Companions Chat Mat Pack for your community group.

Find a local venue hosting a Coffee Companions Hour

Put your postcode into our map.

image of coffee companions website map


Take your chat mat with you wherever you go. People aren’t mind readers – use it so others know when to join you or when to respect your privacy. Why not carry a spare Chat Mat and pass it on to someone else over your coffee? Chatting about Chat Mats would be a great ice breaker conversation!


Why not host a Coffee Companions Hour? If your group is located in Suffolk then why not also consider joining our c-a-f-e (coffee and friends events) network: an initiative helping to connect Suffolk community groups with organisations which can offer free support, advice, training & information, to help them flourish and become sustainable. Set up your Coffee Companions Hour as a c-a-f-e event.

Register your location with us so local folk and others can identify where they, or someone they know, can expect a warm welcome. Those that have newly moved to the area, visitors to your town or village, someone who has recently retired, people being discharged from hospital, community groups and more will all appreciate knowing where to find new friends.

We’ll plot you on our map (coming soon) and help promote your Coffee Companions Hour. Your listing on our website may attract new customers or visitors and act as a reference point for community listings. You could partner with a local voluntary organisation to provide a ‘host’ to help those attending who may prefer a more gentle ‘introduction.’ Let your local GP know about your Coffee Companions hour so that they can share the information with folk they know could benefit from the company.

A regular Coffee Companions Hour at your facility could bring your community together and foster connections. Keep some chat mats to hand for your tables so that those attending can make use of them deciding whether to happily take part in the chat, or to just be content to be out of their own four walls and in company. If you’re located in Suffolk, you could also join our c-a-f-e (coffee and friends event) network which puts you in touch with Suffolk organisations, agencies and services to help build and grow your club or group. Members receive a welcome pack and regular newsletters.

Email us to register here

Do you have a café area which users could visit after a class, club or activity, helping them to make new friends and so be more likely to attend more often?

Email us to register here

Do you have a coffee shop facility where visitors could discuss their experience and might then stay longer to see something they hear they have missed, or visit another of your locations that sounds interesting?

Email us to register here.

Hospitals and other workplaces are amongst locations not listed with us which could order Chat Mats for use by their staff and others. Chat Mats can help new employees identify which groups welcome new faces during lunch and encourage staff from across departments to mix more freely.

Linking to local Coffee Companions Hour venues might help those that have moved house, or who are seconded from another geography, to join other social groups in their community to create connections outside of work too. This can enhance your reputation as a local employer and contribute to the well-being of your staff.

Waiting for appointments in any environment can be stressful and we all deal with the stress in different ways. Chat Mats provide a way to let others know whether talking is a helpful or not.