Melissa Jones opened Blue Willow Coffee in November 2021 to add a local coffee shop to Willis, which at the time, the only coffee shop available in the area was Starbucks.

How it happened

Jones said she was previously a hairdresser for 17 years and had no prior experience in the coffee industry. However, during her time as a hairdresser, she served coffee to her clients and friends.

During Winter Storm Uri in February 2021, many people lost power, and Jones took the opportunity to offer her backup generator to help the community warm up.

“​​I had a generator, and I had an espresso machine at the house. So I made a post to my neighborhood that said, ‘Hey, guys I have hot coffee and a generator. Come over and warm up,’” she said.

After that, her coffee was in demand, which led Jones to open a small coffee trailer for a few months before the city changed food truck ordinances.

Jones said she decided then to move her business to its current location, one of the only historic buildings left in Willis.

Diving in deeper

The coffee shop's name was inspired by Jones' grandmother who she said she had a close relationship with growing up drinking coffee together. Her grandmother owned dishes with blue willow patterns, which led her to the name Blue Willow Coffee.

She hopes to inspire other aspiring women business owners in the community through her coffee shop.

“I've always worked in more of a male-dominant career until I became a hairdresser and dealt with a lot of being told that ‘I'm a woman; I can't do stuff.’ So I decided to respond by opening a business funded by me, run by me, operated by me, solely as a woman,” Jones said.

What's on the menu?

As the sole business owner, Jones said she is constantly busy making coffee; however, her passion for it keeps her going.

“Blue Willow Coffee is very family oriented. You walk in, and I know almost everybody's name and orders,” Jones said.

The coffee shop offers a variety of lattes made as an espresso or as a cold brew as well as stimmys, or energy drinks made with natural caffeine that she said prevents the crash effect caused by other energy drinks.

Popular menu items include the Magnolia—which is made with a special sweet cream recipe—the cinnamon roll latte, and energy drinks made with a concentrate of green tea, coffee, sparkling water and a variety of flavors.

Blue Willow Coffee also hosts pop-up events with other local businesses at the coffee shop.