Arlene and Julian Juan Tong began Blue Jay Coffee and Co. in 2004 at SM City Iloilo, because of Julian’s passion for good coffee and their advocacy to bring coffee culture to Iloilo City. They were the first to invest in high quality Italian espresso machines, but they were firm that the only coffee beans they would use would be Philippine beans from Sagada, Kalinga Apayao and Benguet.

Through the years, Blue Jay has prided itself for sourcing its beans from a Sagada tribal chief, Ko-Ad, whose business grew and prospered through the years.

“I can say that the trade between us and these coffee growers helped the Sagada community, and it still thrives under Ko-Ad’s wife, where we still get our beans,” Arlene says. 

Arlene and Julian also run a co-working space that houses the CCF community in Southpoint, SM Iloilo. She said that it is a business, they never thought would flourish. 

“I asked myself several times whether I should shut the business down when it was a steak restaurant and prayed hard for guidance. Our converting it to a working space and function hall is providential. It is quite successful today as it is currently known for being one of the fastest internet providers in Iloilo and because of its large airy space, it is perfect for social distancing work and small meetings,” shares Arlene.  

Arlene says they are very thankful that SM was the first mall operator to offer rental concessions during the pandemic. “If not for this help from SM, which they offered even before we asked for it, we would be out of business today. It is really a big help to us MSMEs.”

For more information about Blue Jay Coffee & Company, visit its Facebook page  @bluejaycoffeeiloilo.