My friend Jennifer Jones is a writer and poet. Along with her husband Chad, she also owns and operates Open Road Roastery, a speciality coffee business in Christiansburg, Virginia. I wanted to pick her brain about the connection between words and caffeine.

AMK: The relationship between writing and coffee is long and documented. But you’ve taken the coffee bit a step further and turned it into a business. How did you first get into the business of coffee?
Coffee is brain juice for writers, and writing circuitously led me to coffee. My husband, Chad–and I are both writers. We “met” online because of such. As we got to know each other and began the arduous task of long distance dating, we became quite familiar with cozy corners in quaint coffee shops. As our love grew, so did our love for coffee.

Many writers juggle multiple jobs. How does your coffee business impact your writing? Does it enhance or hinder it?
Chad and I lead very full lives. He is our head roaster and a full time chef. I am in charge of accounts/sales and customer relations, mom to a teenager and I love to volunteer. However, writing is something I always work into my schedule. It is one of my first loves and a part of me. You will always find me in line at the grocery store people watching for potential character ideas, jotting down a line or two of poetry before a meeting, or scribbling out a rough outline for my next big story, even in the wee hours of the night.

And how does your writing impact your business?
Chad and I are very much storytellers, and we try to make this evident in our business. From our coffee descriptions to our blend names to our monthly newsletters to our day-to-day emails, our love of writing is woven into our love for our business. We all have a unique story to share–why not do so in as many aspects of our lives as possible?

In a saturated market dominated by mega-chains like Starbucks, is there still room for a small family owned coffee roastery? What new things do you bring to the game and what’s your niche?
Small businesses such as ours, add flavor to our respective areas. We add that personal touch to all aspects of our business. We want you to feel the love that goes into each bag and bean. We often say we aren’t as much in the coffee roasting business as we are in the “moment making” business.

The “story” of your business is presented as a highly personal affair intrinsically tied to the romance between you and your then partner, Chad, now your husband. What are the challenges of mixing business and pleasure?
Our story is a love affair–with each other and with coffee. But in any situation, when two unique humans are involved, there will always be challenges. For a husband and wife team such as us, the biggest challenge is turning off business mode–locking it in a box for just a few moments. Small businesses engulf your lives. You can’t ever completely put them to bed. That being said, you have to remember that–first and foremost–you are a couple, and THEN a couple of business owners. Chad and I communicate well, agree on much, and compromise on the rest,. Thankfully, we both chase different sorts of unicorns, so we can provide that much needed balance for each other.

What writing projects are you working on now?
Poetry is the way I make sense of the world.

Do your blends have stories behind them?
Chad utilizes his culinary background to formulate the recipes for our blends. Each blend is personal to us, and their names reflect this. Our flagship blend, Friends & Family, was the very first blend we created, to mark officially becoming a coffee company. We shared it with our friends and family, querying each of them, “Should we do this?” The answer from all was a resounding YES. Charlie Hustle showcases Chad’s love for baseball, as well as what the coffee provides–that jolt of mmm and ahhh that keeps you hustling when the afternoon lag attempts to set in. Our seasonal blend, Summer Travels, (only available during the summer months) is a bit of a play on Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley. We wanted a name that was as wide open and limitless as our Open Road. We wanted the name of our current seasonal blend, Friday Night Lights, to evoke the crisp chill of an evening laced with marching bands, bright lights, and fall fun.

If you were to name a blend after me, what would it be?
The Bambino blend, of course. Bold, sassy, with just a touch of natural sweetness. Truly an international delight!


Connect with Open Road Roastery on Instagram and Facebook. To connect with Jennifer Jones head over to her website.