On the north side of the UC Berkeley campus, among the excitable first-years and stressed out grad students, is a new cafe designed to promote mental well-being. Partners Viviana Wang and Aaron Trimble opened Mind Coffee on Feb. 7.
“Our mission is to build mental health awareness and change the narrative around mental health,” Trimble said.
Though the idea to open a coffee shop had been percolating for years, it was ultimately born out of a difficult moment in Wang’s life. A few years ago, her father passed away while she was working as a paralegal, leaving her at an emotional impasse. She and Trimble left on a road trip around the country, and upon returning, she decided to take the leap—inspired in part by her mother, who worked at a coffee bar in Colombia.
Trimble said he and Wang experimented with a neighborhood coffee stand at first, and when a storefront on the edge of campus opened up, they jumped on it.
The coffee shop’s design embodies its mission, Trimble told The Standard. The ceiling, an installation of wavering sheets, is meant to represent that one’s mind is never linear.
"We want to create mindful spaces with drinks that inspire," Wang said.
The cafe’s collection of mugs display mindfulness prompts. And patrons can use table signs to indicate that they’d like to meet someone new.
“It took a couple of days, but now people are using them,” Trimble said. “Several people have told us they made new friends that way.”
There are several drinks on the coffee shop’s menu that contain ingredients with potential mental health benefits. Wang is working with an herbalist to add more teas to the menu, incorporating elements like lemon balm and valerian root.
Trimble said they hope to partner with local nonprofits that are focused on mental health in the coming months. In the near future, they plan to host a death cafe—a gathering with the goal to normalize death and discuss how to make the most out of life.
Sarah Holtz can be reached at [email protected]