30. DEVELOPMENT OF THE GREEN AND ROASTED COFFEE BUSINESS IN THE UNITED STATES
A brief history of the growth of coffee trading—Notable firms and personalities that have played important parts in green coffee in the principal coffee centers—Green coffee trade organizations—Growth of the wholesale coffee-roasting trade, and names of those who have made history in it—The National Coffee Roasters Association—Statistics of distribution of coffee-roasting establishments in the United States
Coffee trading in the American colonies probably had its beginnings about the middle of the seventeenth century. Tea seems to have preceded coffee as an article of merchandise. Several merchants in the New England and New York settlements imported small quantities of coffee with other foodstuffs toward the close of the seventeenth century.
The early supplies of the green bean were brought from the Dutch East Indies, Arabia, Haiti, and Jamaica. About 1787, the French opened Mauritius and Bourbon to American ships, which then began to bring back coffee and tea to the Atlantic-coast cities. Mocha coffee was being imported direct in American bottoms about 1804. Coffee from Brazil was first imported by the United States in 1809. Central America began shipping coffee to the United States in 1840. The total coffee imports in 1876 were 339,789,246 pounds, valued at $56,788,997, and received chiefly from Brazil, Haiti, British and Dutch East Indies, the West Indies, and Mexico.
New York early became the leading green-coffee market of the country.
There was a number of large importing merchants in New York in 1760, nearly all of whom brought in coffee. Among them were Isaac and Nicholas Gouverneur, Robert Murray, Walter and Samuel Franklin, John and Henry Cruger, the Livingstons, the Beekmans, Lott & Low, Philip Cuyler, Anthony Van Dam, Hugh and Alexander Wallace, Leonard and Anthony Lispenard, Theophylact Bache, and William Walton.
Some early green-coffee prices per pound were as follows:
1683—18s. 9d.; 1743—5s.; 1746—5s.; 1774—9s.; 1781—96s. O.T.; 1782—2s. 1d. O.T.; 1783—1s.; 1789—10 cents.
Leading New York coffee importers in 1786 were Henry Sheaff, on the dock between Burling Slip and the Fly Market; John Rooney, 26 Cherry Street; William Eccles, 10 Hunters Key; Ludlow & Goold, 47 Wall Street; Scriba, Schroppel & Starmen, 17 Queen Street; and William Taylor, Crane Wharf.
The wholesale coffee roaster appeared about 1790; and from that time the separation between the green-coffee trader and the coffee roaster became more marked. In 1794 the principal green-coffee importers in New York were: Lawrence & Van Zandt; D. Smith & Co., 323 Pearl Street; Gilchrist Dickinson, 17 Taylor's Wharf; Armstrong & Barnewall, 129 Water Street; William Bowne, 265 Pearl Street; Stephen Cole & Son, 26 Ferry Street; J.S. De Lessert & Co., 123 Front Street; Joseph Thebaud, 262 Pearl Street; Nathaniel Cooper & Co., 38 Little Dock Street; Coll. M'Gregor, 28 Wall Street; David Wagstaff, 137 Front Street; Conkling & Lloyd, 15 Taylor's Wharf; and S.B. Garrick, Westphal & Co., 43 Cherry Street.
The leading New York coffee importers in 1848 were Henry and William Delafield, 108 Front Street; and Des Arts & Henser, 78 Water Street.
There were seven leading New York coffee importers in 1854, as follows: Aymar & Co., 34 South Street; Henry Coit & Son, 43 South Street; Henry Delafield, 129 Pearl Street; Howland & Aspinwall, 54 South Street; Mason & Thompson, 33 Pearl Street; J.L. Phipps & Co., 19 Cliff Street; and Moses Taylor & Co., 44 South Street.
Following the so-called "consortium" of 1868, the ramifications of which centered in Frankfort-on-the-Main—its speculations finally ending in disaster to many—the green-coffee trade was in a precarious condition until well into the eighties. "Previously," says a contemporary writer, "it had been the safest and prettiest of all colonial produce."
About 1868, "iron steamers began to be freely availed of as carriers of coffee; and later on, the telegraph became a factor, rendering the business more exciting and expensive".
Coffee consumption in the United States had, moreover, increased from one pound per capita in 1790 to nine pounds per capita in 1882.
1892–93 the biggest figure in the world's coffee trade was George Kaltenbach, a German living in Paris, whose resources were estimated at twelve million to fifteen million dollars, and whose holdings at one time were said to be one million bags. He was reported to have made $1,500,000 on his coffee corner. In September, 1892, he bested a bull clique and forced prices down to twelve cents. Aided by three other European operators, he then started a bull syndicate, and put the price up to seventeen cents. The story of this corner, and of other notable coffee booms and panics, is told in more detail in chapter XXXI.
For a long time New York was the only important entry port for green coffee. Before the rise of New Orleans and San Francisco, many inland coffee roasters and grocers had their own buyers in the New York market. The coffee district that still clings about lower Wall Street is rich in memories of by-gone merchants who once were big factors in the trade, and whose names, in many instances, have been handed down from generation to generation in the businesses that have survived them.
Any reference to the early days of the green-coffee importing, jobbing, and brokerage business in New York would not be complete without mention of a few of the pioneers:
P.C. Meehan is eighty-four years old at the time of writing (1922) and is dean of the New York green-coffee trade. With James H. Briggs he formed the firm of Briggs & Meehan. This later became Meehan & Schramm, with Arnold Schramm. The latter withdrew, and the firm became Creighton, Morrison & Meehan. Finally, Mr. Meehan established the present firm of P.C. Meehan & Co.
When Mr. Schramm withdrew from the firm of Meehan & Schramm he founded the house of Arnold Schramm, Inc. Upon his retirement, this was succeeded by Sprague & Rhodes, the firm being composed of Benjamin Rhodes and Irvin A. Sprague.
Next oldest to P.C. Meehan in the New York green-coffee trade is Clarence Creighton, who started with Youngs & Amman, later C. Amman & Co., then Waite, Creighton & Morrison, then Creighton, Morrison & Meehan. Upon the breaking up of this firm, Mr. Creighton formed a partnership with James Ashland, under the name of Creighton & Ashland. He later operated alone, and died August 15, 1922.
James H. Taylor is another "old-timer" who is still active. He began with T.T. Barr & Co. Later, with F.T. Sherman, he formed the firm of Sherman & Taylor. When Mr. Sherman withdrew, the firm became James H. Taylor & Co. Mr. Taylor is now with Minford, Lueder & Co. He has been five years president, eleven years treasurer, and twenty-six years on the board of governors of the New York Coffee Exchange.
One of the most honored names in the green coffee trade of New York is that of Peck. Edwin H. Peck began, at the age of seventeen years, with Hart & Howell, butter and cheese merchants. He then went in the same business for himself. Four years later, he abandoned this to go into the coffee brokerage business with his brother, Walter J. Peck. In about five years, the brothers branched into the coffee importing and jobbing business under the firm name of Edwin H. Peck & Co. Later it was changed to the present style of E.H. & W. J. Peck. Since the death of Walter J. Peck in 1909, Edwin H. has conducted the business. The latter was a member of the board of governors of the New York Coffee Exchange for twelve years, and has been an important factor in the upbuilding of that institution.
William D. Mackey began with Small Bros. & Co. He then went into partnership with C.K. Small as Mackey & Small. Later, he formed the firm of Arnold, Mackey & Co. with Francis B. Arnold. The latter dropped out, and the firm became Mackey & Co. He is now operating alone. Mr. Mackey was another of the incorporators of the New York Coffee Exchange.
Alexander H. Purcell, a brother of Joseph Purcell, entered the employ of Bowie Dash & Co. as a boy. From there he went to Williams, Russell & Co., then to the Union Coffee Co., and later to Hard & Rand. He is now head of the firm of Alex. H. Purcell & Co.
Robert C. Stewart first became known with Booth & Linsley. He later went with Joseph J. O'Donohue & Sons, leaving there to establish the present firm of R.C. Stewart & Co.
Another old-timer, Joseph D. Pickslay, may be seen at his desk in Williams, Russell & Co.'s office every day, although Frank Williams, who began with Winthrop G. Ray & Co., and Frank C. Russell, both of Williams, Chapin & Russell, and then of Williams, Russell & Co., have passed on. Fred P. Gordon, now head of Fred P. Gordon & Co., was formerly with Williams, Russell & Co.
The Mitchell brothers, William L. and George, forming the firm of Mitchell Bros., have been familiar Front Street figures for many years.
A. Wakeman, "the historian of the coffee trade," as he is often called, began with Olendorf, Case & Gillespie. Later he went with Thompson & Bowers, and then became a member of the firm of Baiz & Wakeman. He is now in business alone. For thirty-eight years Mr. Wakeman has been secretary of the Lower Wall Street Business Men's Association. He is the author of History and Reminiscences of Lower Wall Street and Vicinity.
H. Simmonds, of Simmonds & Bayne; later, of Simmonds & Newton; then, of the Brazil Coffee Co.; and finally, of H. Simmonds & Co., is at the time of writing one of the oldest coffee merchants on Front Street, having been in business in Baltimore and New York for more than fifty years. He has a desk in the office of his son, W. Lee Simmonds, of W. Lee Simmonds & Co.
Bayne is another well known Front Street name. The firm of William Bayne & Co. was established by William Bayne, Sr., in Baltimore. The business was moved to New York about 1885. The founder's three sons, William, Jr., Daniel K., and L. P., entered the employ of the firm in Baltimore, and moved with it to New York.
Daniel K. Bayne became associated with Henry Sheldon & Co., and later was a member of Simmonds & Bayne. He then returned to William Bayne & Co. and was senior partner at the time of his death in 1915. William Bayne, Jr., for many years one of the governors and a past-president and vice-president of the New York Coffee Exchange, and his brother, L.P. Bayne, now conduct the business.
John T. Foley, now of the Commercial Coffee Co., began with Kirkland Bros. From there he went to Ezra Wheeler & Co., then to H.W. Banks & Co., Thompson, Shortridge & Co., and William Hosmer Bennett & Son.
Joshua Walker formed a partnership with James Stewart as Stewart & Walker. Since the retirement of Mr. Stewart some years ago, Mr. Walker has been in business alone.
Three other veterans of the trade are still in the harness: Louis Seligsberg, formerly of Wolf & Seligsberg, is now alone; Henry Schaefer has been at the head of S. Gruner & Co. since the death of Siegfried Gruner; Col. William P. Roome, who operated for some time as Wm. P. Roome & Co., is now head of the coffee department of Acker, Merrall & Condit Co.
Gregory B. Livierato, who founded the business of Livierato Bros. at Port Said, with branches at Aden and Marseilles, and later at Hodeida and Harar, entered the green coffee trade of New York in 1855, although his L F Mocha marks had been introduced here many years before. He remained here for eighteen years, returned to his home in Cephalonia, Greece, in 1904, and died there in 1905. His nephew, B.A. Livierato, then assumed charge of the New York coffee business, which in 1913 became the Livierato-Kidde Co., with B.A. Livierato and Frank Kidde.
Benjamin Green Arnold, one-time "coffee king," first became well known as a member of Arnold, Sturgess & Co., afterward B.G. Arnold & Co. Mr. Arnold was one of the incorporators, and the first president, of the New York Coffee Exchange. Francis B. Arnold, with Arnold, Sturgess & Co., later of Arnold, Mackey & Co., afterward Arnold, Dorr & Co., was a son of Benjamin Greene Arnold; and to him and to Major John R. McNulty belongs a great part of the credit for the organization of the New York Coffee Exchange. Major McNulty was with Minford, Thompson & Co., and then formed the firm of J.R. McNulty & Co.
Bowie Dash, a member of the famous Arnold-Kimball-Dash triumvirate, began with Scott & Meiser, later Scott, Meiser & Co., then Scott & Dash, afterward Scott, Dash & Co., and finally Bowie Dash & Co. Other well known men with this last company were L.F. Mason, A.C. Foster, S.L. Swazey, L.J. Purdy, and John B. Overton.
Then there were: Rufus G. Story; Thomas Minford, Francis Skiddy, and George J. Nevers, of Skiddy, Minford & Co.; W.D. Thompson, of Minford, Thompson & Co., later L.W. Minford & Co., afterward Minford, Lueder & Co., Thompson, Shortridge & Co., later Thompson Bros., then Thompson & Davis; John Randall, with L.W. Minford & Co., later, with J.C. Runkle & Co.; Eugene and James O'Sullivan of Eugene O 'Sullivan & Co.
The following names figured prominently in the trade's early history: Charles Maguire, of James H. Taylor & Co.; George F. Gilman, organizer of the Great American Tea Co. and of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.; H.W. Banks, of Reeve, Case & Banks, afterward of Stanton, Sheldon & Co., later Sheldon, Banks & Co., and then of H.W. Banks & Co.; Henry Sheldon, of Stanton, Sheldon & Co., later Sheldon, Banks & Co.; and then Henry Sheldon & Co.; William McCready, with Small Bros. & Co., later with H.W. Banks & Co., and then with B.H. Howell, Son & Co., C.R. Blakeman, with Gross, March & Co., afterward with Wm. Scott's Sons & Co.; William Scott, of William Scott & Sons, later Wm. Scott's Sons & Co., including George W. Vanderhoef, who later succeeded to the business under the name of George W. Vanderhoef & Co.; Christopher and Leander S. Risley, of C. Risley & Co.; and Charles Naphew, with C. Risley & Co., later with Edwin H. Peck & Co.
Another group of old-timers includes: William Newbold, with Ezra Wheeler & Co., later alone; Augustus Ireland, with Ezra Wheeler & Co.; J.M. Edwards, of Edwards & Maddux, later of J.M. Edwards & Co.; Frank M. Anthony, of J.M. Edwards & Co.; H. Clay Maddux, one of the incorporators of the New York Coffee Exchange, of Edwards & Maddux; Baron Thomsen, of Thomsen & Co.; Gustave Amsinck, of G. Amsinck & Co.; James N. Jarvie, with Small Bros. & Co., later of Arbuckle Bros.; John C. Lloyd, of John C. Lloyd & Co., afterward with Arbuckle Bros.; John Small, of Smalls & Bacon, later Small Bros. & Co.; Williamson Bacon, of Smalls & Bacon, afterward of Williamson Bacon & Co.; C.K. Small, of Mackey & Small, Anson Wales Hard and George Rand, of Hard & Rand; Joseph Purcell, first of W.J. Porter & Co., and then of Hard & Rand; Henry F. McCreery, with O'Shaughnessy & Sorley, later of Hard & Rand; William Sorley and John W. O'Shaughnessy, of O'Shaughnessy & Sorley, Mr. O'Shaughnessy later forming John W. O'Shaughnessy & Co., and Mr. Sorley going to Hard & Rand. Mr. Sorley was one of the incorporators of the New York Coffee Exchange.
A group of old-time green coffee men, including R. C. Stewart, J.D. Pickslay, Frank Williams, Charles P. Chapin, and Fred P. Gordon
Special mention should be made of: Kirkland & von Sacks; A. Kirkland, one of the incorporators of the New York Coffee Exchange, with Small Bros. & Co., then with W.J. Kirkland as Kirkland Bros., and, upon the dissolution of that firm, with F.H. Leggett & Co.; Thomas Rutter & Co.; Teacle Wallace Lewis, with Rowland, Humphreys & Co., later head of the coffee department of Carter, Macy & Co., and still later, head of T.W. Lewis & Co.; Abraham Sanger, of Sanger, Beers & Fisher, later Sanger & Wells; J.W. Wilson & Co.; Dykes & Wilson; Peter, John, and Joseph J. O'Donohue, of John O'Donohue's Sons; Joseph J. O'Donohue & Sons; Otis W. Booth, of Booth & Linsley; A.G. Hildreth; James H. Kirby, of B.G. Arnold & Co., later of Kirby, Halstead & Chapin, afterward Kirby & Halstead; Major Henry D. Tyler; Thomas H. Messenger & Co.; Harvey H. Palmer, of H.H. Palmer & Co.; B. O. Bowers, of Wilson & Bowers, later Thompson & Bowers; and August Haeussler, first with C. Risley & Co., then with J. H. Labaree & Co., and finally with the green coffee department of Geo. H. McFadden & Brother.
John Hanley, with Carey & Co., later of Hanley & Kinsella, St. Louis; Robert C. Hewitt, Jr., who wrote one of the early books on coffee (Coffee, its History, Cultivation, and Uses, 1872), of Hewitt & Phyfe, later Jas. W. Phyfe & Co.; James W. Phyfe of Hewitt & Phyfe, later Jas. W. Phyfe & Co.; Daniel A. Shaw, of Jas. W. Phyfe & Co.; B. Lahey, of Jas. W. Phyfe & Co.; and Winthrop G. Ray & Co.
These names, too, will live long in green coffee history: Reid, Murdock & Fischer, New York and Chicago; Charles A. and Watts Miller, and David Palmer, of D.J. Ely & Co., formerly D.J. & Z.S. Ely Co., New York and Baltimore; Harry Miller, with D.J. Ely & Co., later of Miller & Walbridge; Augustus Walbridge, of Smith & Walbridge, afterward Augustus M. Walbridge, Inc.; Clarence Smith, of M.V.R. Smith's Sons, later of Smith & Walbridge; Stevens, Armstrong & Hartshorn, later Stevens & Armstrong, then Stevens Bros. & Co., and finally Reamer, Turner & Co., including Abraham Reamer, Sr., and William F. Turner.
Among the green coffee men in this picture are Clarence Creighton, John Enright, Chris Arndt, W. Lee Simmonds, John Ashlin, F. Loderose, Julius Steinwender, and Clinton Whiting
Looking up Wall Street from the East River. The first cross street is Front; beyond are to be seen the Munson, Stock Exchange, and Bankers' Trust Company's buildings, with Trinity Church marking the Broadway gateway
Other familiar old-time names were: George W. Pritchard, of George W. Pritchard & Sons; Dayton & Co.; Dimond & Lally, later Dimond & Gardes; Arthur W. Brown; Robert Russell, of Russell & Co.; J. F. Pupke and Thomas Reid, of Pupke & Reid, later Eppens, Smith & Wiemann, afterward Eppens, Smith & Co., with William H. and Frederick P. Eppens; Joseph A. O'Brien, with Pupke & Reid, and later in business for himself; R.P. McBride, of the Union Pacific Tea Co.; Ripley Ropes; Saportas Bros.; Mayer Bros. & Co. of Hamburg, with Moses G. Hanauer, manager, and D.K. Young and Herman Hanauer, salesmen; H.M. Humphreys, with J.W. Doane & Co., later with Arbuckle Bros.; Henry Nordlinger, of Henry Nordlinger & Co.; Charles Campbell, of W.R. Grace & Co.; D.A. DeLima, of D.A. & J. DeLima, later D.A. DeLima & Co.; Henry Kunhardt and George F. Kuhlke, of Kunhardt & Co.; Boulton, Bliss & Dallett, later Bliss, Dallett & Co., general managers of the Red D line of steamships; Prendergast Bros.; W.H. and George W. Crossman, of W.H. Crossman & Bros., later Crossman & Sielcken, with Hermann Sielcken, afterward Sorenson & Nielson; F. Probst & Co.; H. H. Swift & Co.; J.L. Phipps & Co.; James Bennett and Joseph Becker, of Bennett & Becker; and Arnold, Hines & Co. (Diamond A Mocha), later Arnold, Cheney & Company.
Honorable mention should be accorded: Samuel Wilde (Old Dutch Mills); John Phoenix, with Husted, Ferguson & Titus, later of J.W. Phoenix & Co.; H.K. Thurber, of H.K. & F.B. Thurber & Co.; Michael Barnicle, with Walter Storm, later Storm, Smith & Co., then Abbey, Freeman & Co., then with Husted, Wetmore & Titus, and finally alone; August Stumpp, of August Stumpp & Co.; J.K. and E.B. Place; Beards & Cummings, later Beards & Cottrell, then S.S. Beard & Co.; Philip and Henry Dater, of Philip Dater & Co.; Hugh Edwards, of Edwards & Raworth; William Bennett, of Wm. Hosmer Bennett & Son; Kalman Haas, of Haas Bros.; J.C. Runkle & Co.; Thomas T. Barr and Fred T. Sherman, of Barr, Lally & Co., later T.T. Barr & Co.; Henry Hentz & Co.; Elmenhorst & Co.; A.S. Lascelles & Co.; D. Henderson (Harry) and John Wells, of Wells Bros.; G. Weyl & Co., later Norton, Weyl & Beven, and then Weyl & Norton; Warren & Co.; J.H. Labaree & Co.; Schultz & Ruckgaber; Henry Eyre; Rowland, Terry & Humphreys, later Rowland & Humphreys; Bentley, Benton & Co.; Winter & Smilie; Weston & Gray; John S. Wright, one of the incorporators of the New York Coffee Exchange, of Wright, Hard & Co.; Watjen, Toel & Co.; A. Behrens & Co.; "Steve" Matheson, of S. Matheson, Jr. & Co.; C. Wessels & Bros., later Wessels, Kulenkampff & Co., and finally Fromm & Co.; Julius Steinwender, of Steinwender, Stoffregen & Co.; Leon Israel, of Leon Israel & Bros.; Herklotz, Corn & Co.; Ponfold, Schuyler & Co.; Maitland, Phelps & Co., later Maitland, Coppell & Co.; F.H. Leggett, of F.H. Leggett & Co.; Carhart & Brother; George W. Flanders, of George W. Flanders & Co.; Jonas P. O'Brien; George S. Wallen, of George S. Wallen & Co.; Charles F. Blake, of Blake & Bullard; and Martin J. Glynn, of McDonald & Glynn, later Martin J. Glynn & Co., who had their office at Front Street and Old Slip for twenty-five years.
Three other names closely associated with the early days of the New York green-coffee trade were: Glover, Force & Co., later Waterbury & Force, then W.H. Force & Co., and finally W.S. Force & Co., weighers and forwarders; Daniel Reeve, of Reeve & Van Riper, mixers and hullers; and John H. Draper & Co., auctioneers.
Twenty-two years ago, when the century opened, New York passed over her docks a total of 676,000,000 pounds of coffee, which represented eighty-six percent of the total for the country. In 1920, juggling the figures a little, she imported 767,000,000 pounds, which was fifty-nine percent of the total. While she was thus practically marking time, she watched New Orleans run wild with an increase from 44,000,000 pounds to 380,000,000 pounds, or 763 percent gain; this meaning also the supplying of twenty-nine percent of the country's demands instead of five percent, while San Francisco in the same time jumped from 24,000,000 pounds to 137,000,000 pounds, or 470 percent gain, her share of the total trade now being ten percent instead of three percent in 1900. These gains, however, have not all been made at the expense of the city on the Hudson. In 1900, Baltimore was a close rival of New Orleans and was far ahead of all other ports except New York; but a decline in her imports began about 1903, and was so swift, that five years later her imports were almost negligible.
[K] Calendar years. All others fiscal years.
New Orleans began her advance at about the same time that Baltimore began to fall off, so that her rise to a place of importance as a coffee port has been practically coincident with the twentieth century. Her first big step upward was in 1901, from 44,000,000 to 72,000,000 pounds, and was followed by another the next year to 115,000,000. Thereafter there was a steady gain to 213,000,000 pounds in 1906 and to 301,000,000 pounds in 1910, and after that wide fluctuations, especially during the war. In 1918, doubtless because of the draining of shipping to the North Atlantic service, there was a heavy slump; but immediately after the war, in the calendar year 1919, there was a big jump to a record mark, up to that time, of 356,000,000 pounds. This was followed by the record of 380,000,000 pounds in the calendar year 1920, although the 1921 figure of 331,036,770 shows a falling off of nearly 50,000,000 pounds.
San Francisco's growth, on the other hand, is of recent occurrence. The story is told farther along in this chapter, how the city was definitely placed on the coffee map by the provision of adequate shipping facilities to Central America. The outbreak of the war in Europe, however, which loosened the grip of European nations on the coffee crops of Central America, was the prime cause of San Francisco's rise in the coffee world, affording her an opportunity of which she had the enterprise to take full advantage. In 1913, her imports were only about 36,000,000 pounds, at which mark they had stood for many years. There was only a slight gain until 1916, when 71,000,000 pounds were recorded; but this increased to 97,000,000 pounds in 1917, to 134,000,000 pounds in 1918 (fiscal year), and to 160,000,000 pounds in the calendar year 1919. In 1920, there was a falling off to 137,000,000 pounds, and it may be that the high figure reached the year before represents about the maximum that her natural market, the Pacific-coast region, can well absorb.
For the benefit of those who like to do their own interpreting of figures, we present in the table at the top of this page the official record for recent years.
The leading importers of Brazil coffee direct to New York and Baltimore in 1894, as compiled by William H. Force & Co., were as follows. Included in this list are a number of names well known in the green and roasted coffee trades of other cities:
The history of New Orleans as a coffee port may be considered as beginning with the transfer of Louisiana by Napoleon Bonaparte to the United States in 1803. In this year, according to Martin's History of Louisiana, New Orleans imported 1438 bags of coffee of 132 pounds each. In the latter part of the eighteenth century, settlers in large numbers had crossed the Allegheny Mountains from the Atlantic states into the valley of the Ohio River; and their crops of grain and provisions were exported by means of cheaply constructed rafts and boats, which were floated down the river to New Orleans, where they were generally broken up and sold for use as lumber and firewood—there being, at that time, no power available for propelling them back against the current of the river.
From 1803 until 1820, on account of the difficulty of navigating upstream, New Orleans imports did not increase as rapidly as exports. In 1814, however, the first crude steamboat had begun to carry freight on the river; and by 1820, the supremacy of New Orleans as the gateway of the Mississippi Valley had been for the time established by this new means of transportation. The coffee-importing business flourished; and, from its modest beginning in 1803, grew to 531,236 bags in 1857.
By this time, however, New Orleans had begun to feel the competition of the Erie Canal, and of the systems of east and west railroad lines which had been in the course of active construction during the preceding fifteen years. The railroad systems which had as their ports Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, entered upon a desperate war of freight rates, each in the endeavor to establish the supremacy of its own port. As the building of railroads had been entirely east and west, and no large amount of capital had been invested in north and south lines, much of the business of the valley was diverted to the Atlantic ports, apparently never to return to New Orleans.
In 1862, on account of the blockade of the port, not a bag of coffee was imported through New Orleans, and practically none came in until the year 1866, when the small amount of 55,000 bags was the total for the year. At about this time, Boston and Philadelphia became negligible importing quantities; the business of Baltimore continued to be quite prosperous; and New York rapidly increased her imports and took the commanding position.
New Orleans had increased her coffee imports to 250,000 bags in 1871, and the yearly imports continued at about this figure until the last decade of the century, when the business began to expand. The imports had reached a total of 337,000 bags in 1893–1894; and of 373,000 in 1896–97. This was the beginning of a new era, and the coffee business of New Orleans entered upon the period of its greatest growth. Imports were 514,000 bags in 1900–01, and were slightly more than twice that by 1903–04. In 1909–10 the imports had again doubled, and had reached a total for the twelve months ending July 1, 1909, of slightly more than 2,000,000 bags; while the figures for the calendar year 1909 totaled 2,500,000 bags.
Borino & Bro., 77 Gravier Street, were the largest importers of coffee in New Orleans in 1869. The principal importers in 1880 were P. Poursine & Co., Westfeldt Bros., Dymond & Gardes, Schmidt & Ziegler, J.L. Phipps & Co., Geo. O. Gordon & Co., and Smith Bros.
Shipments were by sailing vessels, a full cargo being about 5000 bags. Fancy grades, like Golden Rios, washed and peaberries, were shipped in double bags. Musty coffees were common, and every bag in a cargo was sampled for must. S. Jackson was first to issue regular manifests. With the entry of steamers into the coffee transport business, New Orleans was placed at a disadvantage as steamer rates were about twenty cents a bag higher to New Orleans than to New York, and imports were limited. The subsequent revival of the business was due largely to Hard & Rand. Being unable to obtain steamer rates equal to those quoted in New York, Hard & Rand chartered steamers for New Orleans; and soon the trade began to offer cost and freight to New Orleans, and the business grew from about 350,000 bags of green coffee per annum to 2,500,000 bags.
One of the best remembered names in the green coffee trade of New Orleans is that of Charles Dittman (1848–1920), who for nearly fifty years was one of the leading coffee commission merchants of the country. Mr. Dittman entered the coffee business with Napier & Co., representing E. Johnston & Co., of Rio de Janeiro. In 1875, upon the death of Mr. Napier, the firm changed to Johnston, Gordon & Co., later to G.O. Gordon, and in 1886 to the Charles Dittmann Co. Since his death in 1920, the business has been continued by F.V. Allain and Charles Dittmann, Jr.
In the early days of the green coffee business in San Francisco these names stood out as most important among the coffee importers: Hellmann Bros. & Co., Montealegre & Co., E.L.G.S. Steele & Co., and Urruella & Urioste.
From their many friends in Central America, they, and others in their line, obtained small consignments that were bought by the roasters according to their immediate needs. Often as many as five or six buyers would share in a parcel of fifty bags, as they were not in the custom of filling up the larder for days of want. There always seemed to be sufficient for every one, and bull movements and corners had not then become the vogue.
Just as today, the mainstays of the early San Francisco trade were coffees produced in Costa Rica, Salvador, and Guatemala, although some were brought from the Colima district of Mexico. The broker had a comparatively easy job in selling his wares. Samples of the lots would be given to him in carefully sealed glass bottles, and usually the buyer would trust his discerning eye to judge correctly the quality of the goods, not even taking the trouble to uncork the bottle. Size, color, and imperfections would be his criterion.
The leading coffee importers at San Francisco in 1875 were B.E. Auger & Co., 409 Battery; S.A. Carit & Co., 405 Front Street; Hellmann Bros. & Co., 525 Front Street; Adolphe Low & Co., 208 California Street; S.C. Merrill & Co., 204 California Street; Parrott & Co., 306 California Street; and Urruella & Urioste, 405 Front Street.
The annual consumption of green coffee in San Francisco in the early eighties was estimated at 100,000 bags.
A marked change in the coffee business of San Francisco was brought about by the discovery that the differences in the taste of coffees could not be accurately detected from their color or from the size of bean. To Clarence E. Bickford belongs the credit of having discovered the cup qualities of high-grown Central American coffees. He was employed at the time by a broker named Hockhofler, and probably did not realize what far-reaching effect his discovery would have on the future of San Francisco's coffee trade; but no other factor has contributed so much to its growth. When the roasters began to examine coffees for their taste, values were of course revolutionized. Antiguas, and other high-grown coffees, that had theretofore been penalized for the small size of bean, soon brought a premium, and have ever since been in great demand. It goes without saying that the new classification was of material assistance to the roasters in bettering their output, as blending was then put on a scientific basis.
About the middle of the nineties San Francisco began to function as a distributing center, and shipments were made from there to St. Louis and Cincinnati. The selection of coffees on their cup merit was undoubtedly a factor of considerable importance in creating new outlets; although it is generally conceded that the winning personality of C.E. Bickford helped considerably. Mr. Bickford, by this time, had succeeded his former employer. He served the trade by living up to the best standards of business practise until his death in 1908; when the institution he founded was continued by E.H. O'Brien under the name of C.E. Bickford & Co.
San Francisco imported 175,293 bags of coffee in 1900. Imports had grown to 256,183 bags by 1906; and the following were the leading importers, as taken from a compilation by C.E. Bickford & Co.:
The imports of green coffee at San Francisco in 1914–15 amounted to about 400,000 bags. The beginning of the World War was almost coincidental with an energetic campaign waged by San Francisco coffee interests to popularize Central American coffees, and particularly Guatemalas, in this country. The time was well chosen, as the world's exposition at San Francisco offered a good opportunity to acquaint the public with the fine qualities of Guatemala growths. Furthermore, it was necessary to create new markets for these coffees, which in former years had been very extensively used in Europe. Figures show that San Francisco's efforts were crowned with success. In 1916, the importation increased by fifty percent; and in 1917, importations were double those of 1915. In 1918, a total of nearly 1,000,000 bags was reached; and this mark was passed by almost 200,000 in 1919. In 1920, 971,567 bags were imported.
The origin of San Francisco's fight for control of Central American coffee dates back to the years 1908 to 1910, when the German Kosmos Line was fighting the Pacific Mail for the Central and South American shipping business. W.R. Grace & Co., at that time, were already the heaviest shippers of American merchandise to the Latin-American countries; and while their own steamers were not touching at Central American ports, they were handling merchandise from the United States and nitrates from the South American countries in their own bottoms, and were also engaged as general carriers for that trade. The fight directed by the Kosmos Line against the Pacific Mail, which at that time was under the control of the Southern Pacific Company, was accordingly directed against the Grace interests also, so far as South American countries were concerned. The fight was long and bitter, and costly to both sides. At times, the contenders offered to take freight, not only without charge, but to pay the shipper a premium for the privilege of carrying his freight.
Differences were finally settled in conference; but the experience taught the American interests that they could survive in any territory only if at all times they were able to provide their own cargoes for their own boats, as had been accomplished with nitrate in South America. J.H. Rosseter, the Grace manager, who later became well known as director of operations of the United States Shipping Board during the war, undertook an extended trip to Central America in 1912 to study the situation at close range. There was only one product of Central America that was available in cargo quantities, namely coffee; and naturally his attention was drawn to the possibility of carrying coffee to San Francisco to provide return cargoes for ships of the Pacific Mail, or associated lines, carrying merchandise for the Central American countries.
While in Guatemala, Mr. Rosseter outlined a future policy in regard to Central American coffees; the basis being his firm determination that coffees grown in Central America, and logically and geographically tributary to San Francisco distribution, should come to San Francisco in largely increasing quantities.
Up to that time San Francisco had received, on an average, only 200,000 bags of Central American coffee annually for the ten preceding years; while Europe had received about 1,500,000 bags a year. The quantity necessary to make San Francisco a factor would call for an importation, on an average, of 750,000 bags—a quantity almost four times as large as then established.
This was an extremely ambitious undertaking, considering the conditions then prevailing in Central America. European countries were firmly entrenched in the coffee business in Central America, with Germany leading in Guatemala, France in Salvador and Nicaragua, England and France contending for superiority in Costa Rica, and the United States getting only the leavings.
The European countries held their position in the Central American Coffee trade by liberal financing, and a thorough knowledge of the varying qualities of coffee produced on the different plantations. San Francisco, the only important port in the United States dealing in Central American coffees, had neither strong financial entrenchment in Central America nor expert knowledge of coffee quality. Year after year, San Francisco merchants had depended on consignments chosen by the consignors. This rendered quality selection of coffees by the importers impossible.
Rosseter, being primarily a steamship man, tackled the proposition from the standpoint of transportation, figuring that if he could establish and maintain preferential steamer service to San Francisco, and steady freight rates, a great step would be accomplished toward the desired end. This led to his interest in the Pacific Mail Company, of which the final outcome was his present position as vice-president of the reorganized Pacific Mail Company. In that capacity he maintained, practically throughout the entire period of the World War, freight rates on coffee from Central America to San Francisco that gave that Pacific port an immediate and definite advantage.
This gave merchants in San Francisco the chance to build up a steady trade, and prevented other ports in the United States from entering into serious competition with San Francisco as a distributing point for Central American coffees. The view taken by Rosseter was as far-sighted as it was broad. He argued that with the end of the war there would be no strength in a scattering distribution of Central American coffees by New York, New Orleans, and San Francisco; and the only promise of maintenance of the business for the United States would be in maintaining unity of distribution in one port of the United States, namely San Francisco.
The first year open to European competition after the war showed that San Francisco was well able to maintain its lead in Central American coffees. Today, the mortgages formerly held by European merchants on the native coffee plantations, and the control thereby of the produce of these plantations, are in the hands of American merchants; and what is more, out of general merchandising and importing by merchants of San Francisco there have developed expert coffee departments in all of the larger houses. The years of the war brought the product of virtually all plantations in Central America to the intimate knowledge of these expert coffee departments; and today the advantage that Europe formerly had—of knowing exactly what a specific plantation produced—is possessed by San Francisco merchants.
This is no small advantage when we consider that in Guatemala and Costa Rica, qualities vary from plantation to plantation, and that often on adjoining plantations there is from three to five cents a pound difference in quality, from the standpoint of cup merit.
One can not buy coffee in Central America as in Brazil, as these countries are not highly organized commercially, and the importers here are forced to assume the rôle of the Brazilian commisario and banker. The crop has to be financed from six to nine months before it is brought to the port; and the securities covering such advances are at best of questionable value, on account of political insecurity, and the ever-threatening earthquakes, and the uncertainty of the elements. Distribution of the coffee after it has been brought to San Francisco also involves many difficulties, notwithstanding that the demand is good. This will be better realized when we consider that the Pacific coast, from Alaska to Mexico, and eastward as far as the Rocky Mountains, embraces a population of about 8,000,000, whose annual consumption is estimated at 400,000 bags; and that, as already stated, treble that quantity was imported to San Francisco in 1919.
In 1900, ninety-nine firms were engaged in the green coffee importing business (some were roasters also) in New York; six in Philadelphia; twenty-eight in San Francisco; twelve in New Orleans. In 1920, there were two hundred and sixteen in New York; thirty-one in San Francisco; fifteen in New Orleans.
Previous to the organization of the roasters, the only kind of coffee organization in this country of more than local importance was the New York Coffee Exchange, which came into existence in 1881, the organization meeting being held in the offices of B.G. Arnold & Co., at 166 Pearl Street, New York. The Exchange was incorporated December 7, 1881, the incorporators being Benjamin Green Arnold, Francis B. Arnold, William D. Mackey, John S. Wright, William Sorley, Joseph A. O'Brien, H. Clay Maddux, C. McCulloch Beecher, Geo. W. Flanders, and John R. McNulty. B.G. Arnold was the first president. Soon afterward, rooms were rented and fitted up for trading purposes at 135 Pearl Street, at the junction of Beaver and Pearl Streets, and only two blocks away from the more pretentious structure now housing the Coffee Exchange. Actual trading operations did not begin until March 7, 1882.
The New York Coffee Exchange was the world's first coffee-trade organization of national proportions. Havre's exchange was inaugurated in 1882, under the name of the Coffee Terminal Market. Five years later, coffee exchanges were opened in Amsterdam and Hamburg; while the exchanges of London, Antwerp, and Rotterdam did not come into existence until the year 1890. The exchange in Trieste, Italy, was organized in 1905; while the Coffee Trade Association of London was started in 1916. The first exchange in Santos was started in 1914.
The success of the New York Coffee Exchange led to its imitation in other coffee ports of the United States. Baltimore started a similar organization, early in 1883, under the name of the Baltimore Coffee Exchange; but after a short existence, it petered out. New Orleans organized a green coffee trading association in 1889, as a coffee committee of the Board of Trade. It is still active. The Green Coffee Association of New Orleans, Inc., which is distinct from the Coffee Committee, was established January 7, 1920. San Francisco did not have a trading exchange until 1918, in which year the Green Coffee Association of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce began operations.
The wholesale coffee roasting business in the United States seems to have started in the closing years of the eighteenth century. In February, 1790, a "new coffee manufactory" began business at 4 Great Dock Street, New York, and the proprietor announced that he had provided himself at considerable expense with the proper utensils "to burn, grind and classify coffee on the European plan." He sold the freshly roasted product "in pots of various sizes from one to twenty weight, well packed down, either for sea or family use so as to keep good for twelve months."
A second roasting plant started up at 232 Queen Street, New York, nearly opposite the governor's house, toward the close of 1790. This second coffee roasting plant was known in 1794 as the City Coffee Works. James Thompson operated a "coffee manufactory" at 25 Thames Street in 1795. In this year there was also the "Old Ground Coffee Works" in Pearl Street, formerly Hanover Square, "three doors below the bank at number 110," operating "two mills, one pair French burr stones" but no orders were accepted here for less than six pounds, at "two pence advanced from the roasting loss."
Other coffee manufactories followed in the large towns of the new states; and, always, the coffee was treated "on the European plan." This meant that it was "burnt over a slow coal fire, making every grain a copper color and ridding it all of dust and chaff." There was usually a difference in price of three to four pence a pound between the green and roasted product. Packages of roasted coffee under the half-dozen weight were sold in New York in 1791 for two shillings and three pence per pound, allowance being made for grocers at a distance. In those days, the favorite container was a narrow-mouthed pot or jar of any size. This was the first crude coffee package. In retailing the product, cornucopias made of newspapers, or any other convenient wrapping, were first employed; but, with the introduction of paper bags in the early sixties, the housekeeper soon became educated to this more sanitary form of carry package, and its permanence was quickly assured.
The following were listed in Longworth's Almanack as coffee roasters in New York in 1805: John Applegate; Cornelius Cooper; Benjamin Cutler, 104 Division Street; George Defendorf, 83 Chapel Street; William Green; Cornelius Hassey, 14 Augustus Street; Joseph M'Ginley, 28 Moore Street; John W. Shaw, 43 Oliver Street; John Sweeney, Mulberry Street; Patience Thompson, 23 Thames Street.
Elijah Withington came from Boston to New York in 1814. He set up a coffee roaster in an alley behind the City Hall and engaged a big, raw-boned Irishman to run it. This was the beginning of a coffee roasting business that has continued until the present day. Withington dealt in Padang interiors, Jamaica, and West Indian coffees, and numbered many society folk among his customers. Withington's business removed to 7 Dutch Street in 1829: and the firm became Withington & Pine in 1830.
The roasted coffee business in New York had grown to such proportions in 1833 and gave such promise, that James Wild considered it a good investment to bring over from England for his new coffee manufactory in New York a complete power machinery equipment for roasting and grinding coffee. There was also an engine to run it. It was set up in Wooster Street opposite the present Washington Square.
Samuel Wilde, son of Joseph Wilde, of Dorchester, Mass., came to New York about 1840 to make his fortune. He was a young man with vision; and first applied himself with diligence to the hardware and looking-glass business. When he found that most of his customers were theaters and saloons, his religious scruples bade him abandon it, which he did.
Meanwhile, in 1844, Withington's pioneer roasting enterprise had admitted Norman Francis and Amos S. Welch as general partners, and Samuel and Charles C. Colgate as special partners, under the style of Withington, Francis & Welch. It so continued until 1848, when Samuel Wilde—who had selected the coffee business as more honorable than the one in which he started—was admitted, and the firm became Withington & Wilde.
Mr. Withington retired in 1851, and Samuel Wilde associated with him in the business his sons Joseph and Samuel, Jr., the title becoming Samuel Wilde & Sons. Samuel Wilde, Sr., died in 1862. The title then became Samuel Wilde's Sons. Joseph Wilde died in 1878, and Samuel Wilde, Jr. in 1890, the business being left to and continuing with a younger brother, John, from 1878 to 1894, when John's son, Herbert W. Wilde, became a member of the firm, which continues the old title at 466 Greenwich Street, as Samuel Wilde's Sons Company, having been incorporated in 1902. John Wilde died in 1914.
Another grandson of Samuel Wilde is William B. Harris, who engaged in the coffee roasting business in Front Street from 1904 to 1917. From 1908 to 1918 he acted as coffee expert for the United States Department of Agriculture. William B. Harris is a son of Samuel L. Harris, who married a daughter of Samuel Wilde, and who for a number of years was connected with Samuel Wilde's Sons.
Although a number of roasters and grinders for family use were patented in the United States in the first half of the nineteenth century, the coffee merchants depended almost entirely on English manufacturers for their wholesale equipment until 1846, when James W. Carter of Boston brought out his "pull-out" roaster. This machine, and others like it, encouraged the development of the coffee-roasting business, so that when the Civil War came, coffee manufactories were well scattered over the country. The demand for something better in coffee-machinery equipment was answered by Jabez Burns with his machine for filling and discharging without moving the roasting cylinder from the fire.
Among the early grocery concerns in New York that were also coffee roasters were: R.C. Williams & Co., starting as Mott & Williams in 1811, changing to R.S. Williams & Co. in 1821, to Williams & Potter in 1851, and to its present title in 1882; Acker, Merrall & Condit Co., founded in 1820; Park & Tilford, founded in 1840; Austin, Nichols & Co., founded in 1855; and Francis H. Leggett & Co., founded in 1870.
There were twenty-one "coffee roasters and spice factors" in New York in 1848. Among them were: Beard & Cummings. 281 Front Street; Henry B. Blair, 129 Washington Street; Colgate Gilbert, 93 Fulton Street; Wright Gillies, 236 Washington Street; and Withington, Wilde & Welch, 7 Dutch Street. In this year, two coffee importers, fourteen tea importers, and forty-one tea dealers were listed in the City Directory.
The Directory for 1854 listed twenty-seven coffee roasters and spice factors, among them, in addition to the above, being Peter Haulenbeek, 328 Washington Street; Levi Rowley, 102 West Street; William J. Stitt, 159 Washington Street; and George W. Wright, 79 Front Street. In those days not all the wholesale coffee factors were roasters; there was much trade roasting by a few large plants.
While the coffee-roasting business of Samuel Wilde's Sons appears to be the oldest in New York, having descended in a practically unbroken line from 1814, several others continued considerably past the half-century mark, and among them special mention should be accorded to: Levi Rowley's Star Mills, dating back to 1823; Beard & Cummings, 1834; Wright Gillies & Bro., 1840; Loudon & Son, the Metropolitan Mills, 1853; and the Eppens Smith Co., present day successors of Thomas Reid's Globe Mills of 1855.
The Star Mills in Duane Street became a real factor in the wholesale coffee-roasting business on Manhattan Island about 1823. At a later date, Levi Rowley secured control, and under his able direction the business flourished. Benedict & Gaffney bought the Star Mills from Rowley in 1885. A few years later the firm became Benedict & Thomas, then Thomas & Turner, and finally the R.G. Thomas Co. R.G. Thomas sold the equipment in 1920, ending the manufacturing end of the business just about a century from the time it started. Mr. Thomas is now with Russell & Co. Before being identified with the Star Mills, he was for twenty years with Packard & James, 123 Maiden Lane.
While still a lad of nineteen, Wright Gillies came from a Newburgh farm in 1838, and obtained a clerkship in a tea store in Chatham Street, now Chambers and Duane Street. He branched out for himself in the tea and coffee business at 232 Washington Street in 1840, removing in 1843 to 236, which had a courtyard where he installed a horse-power coffee roaster. In the same building, over the store, lived Thomas McNell and his wife. Mr. McNell afterward became a member of the firm of Smith & McNell, proprietors of the Washington Street hotel and restaurant, for many years one of New York City's landmarks.
The coffee business, thus started by Wright Gillies, is still conducted, as the Gillies Coffee Co., by the same family and at practically the same location; and it is interesting to note that the roasting room still has the original arrangement, partly below the street level but with the machinery in view from the sidewalk. This arrangement was characteristic of the old roasting establishments.
James W. Gillies, a younger brother, came from Newburgh in 1848 to assist in the enterprise. Young Gillies superintended the horse-power roaster and drove the light spring delivery cart. Soon the firm became Wright Gillies & Bro. Fires visited the business in 1849 and in 1858; but each time it arose the stronger for the experience. Wright Gillies retired in 1884, and James W. Gillies assumed entire charge under the name of the Gillies Coffee Co. He continued active until his death in 1899. The business was incorporated by his children under the same name in 1906.
Edwin J. Gillies, son of James W. Gillies, started a separate coffee business at 245 Washington Street, in 1882. In 1883 he admitted as a partner James H. Schmelzel, a fellow Columbia alumnus. The enterprise was successful for many years, being incorporated under the title of Edwin J. Gillies & Co., Inc. It was consolidated in 1915 with the business of Ross W. Weir & Co., 60 Front Street, Edwin J. Gillies becoming a vice-president (with L. S. Cooper also vice-president) of the corporation of Ross W. Weir, Inc.
Burns & Brown started in the coffee roasting business in 1853 in an old building at the corner of Washington and Chambers Streets for which they paid an annual rental of one thousand dollars. This was the beginning of the Metropolitan Mills, opposite to the present location of Loudon & Son, 181 Chambers Street, the latest successors to the business. Burns & Brown continued for two years, when they failed, and Wright Gillies & Bro. succeeded, and put in Ebenezer Welsh as manager. Later, Wright Gillies & Co. sold out the plant to Capt. Edward C. Russell, who associated with him his son-in-law, Edward A. Phelps, Jr. At the dissolution of this partnership in 1870, the firm became Trusdell & Phelps. Mr. Phelps succeeded Trusdell, and sold out to Loudon & Stellwag in 1877. They were succeeded by Loudon & Johnson in 1879, and this firm continued until 1910, when James D. Johnson retired, and the firm of Loudon & Son took charge. These were J. Carlyle Loudon and his son, Howard C. Loudon, who died in 1911. The firm name of Loudon & Son continues.
One of the most vigorous personalities of the sixties, and one whose influence extended well into this generation, was Thomas Reid. Born in Bridgeport, England, he came to the United States as a boy, and started his business career as a grocer's clerk in Brooklyn. Within three months after landing, he bought out his employer. He entered the wholesale coffee-roasting business at 105 Murray Street, New York, in 1855, in partnership with a Mr. Townsend under the style of the Globe Mills, which were the predecessors of the Eppens Smith Co. now in Warren Street. Jabez Burns, inventor of the Burns coffee roaster, before this a teamster for Henry Blair, was at one time bookkeeper for the Globe Mills. In 1864, Mr. Burns sold to the Globe Mills the first roasters of his manufacture—two one-bag, four-foot machines that were given a place alongside of four of the old-style Carter pull-outs.
Mr. Townsend died the first year of the Globe Mills' existence; and Thomas Reid continued without a partner until 1863, when he became associated with John F. Pupke, as Pupke & Reid. The business was then at 269 Washington Street. Thomas Reid was resourceful and enterprising; also he had vision. He saw the day of package coffee coming, and nearly "beat" John Arbuckle to it. As early as 1861 we find him advertising in the City Directory, "spices put up in every variety of package."
Lewis A. Osborn, 69 Warren Street, New York, and 81–83 South Water Street, Chicago, was advertising "Osborn's Celebrated Prepared Java Coffee—put up only by Lewis A. Osborn" in 1863–64. Thomas Reid appears to have acquired this brand and to have begun its exploitation as "Osborn's Old Government Java," a ground package coffee, and certainly one of the earliest package coffees. However, this brand never attained the national vogue achieved by John Arbuckle's package coffee, which first appeared in 1865, although the name Ariosa was not given it until 1873.
Between 1855 and 1865 there were only half-a-dozen wholesale coffee roasters on Manhattan Island, and Thomas Reid was their leader. Much of his work was roasting for the trade, and this undoubtedly interfered with the logical development of his package-coffee ideas.
The firm became Pupke, Reid & Phelps in 1882. In 1885, it became the original Eppens-Smith Co.; later, the Eppens, Smith & Wiemann Co., and lastly, the Eppens Smith Co. Thomas Reid was vice-president of the Eppens, Smith & Wiemann Co., and continued in that position until his death in 1902. Julius Eppens is the present head of the business.
Other package coffees of the sixties were Government coffee put out by Taber & Place's Rubia Mills, 353–355 Washington Street, in "tin foil pound papers," and L. Bruckmann & Co.'s London Club, packed at 107 Warren Street.
Another old-time New York coffee-roasting business is that of Samuel S. Beard & Co. This business was founded in 1834 on Front Street by Eli Beard (father of Samuel S. Beard,) and W.A. Cummings as Beard & Cummings. In 1872, the firm moved to Duane Street, where it was joined by Messrs. S.S. Beard and Cottrell, and the new firm became Beards & Cottrell. Mr. Cottrell retired in 1883, and the firm became Samuel S. Beard & Co. Upon the death of S.S. Beard in 1905, James H. Murray, who had been with the concern for many years, became head of the house. Mr. Murray died six months later. The business moved in 1913 to 92 Front Street, where it continues as a stock company, with J.R. Westfal as manager.
Austin C. Fitzpatrick, well known among New York coffee roasters, is a graduate of the Thomas Reid school, having entered the business of this pioneer roaster in 1865. He was western salesman for Pupke & Reid until 1871, when he became associated with Rufus G. Story under the firm name of R. G. Story & Co. Later, he formed a partnership with Howard E. Case, buying out the old house of Beard & Howell. When Mr. Case retired in 1887, the firm became A.C. Fitzpatrick & Co. This title continued for twelve years, when the Knickerbocker Mills were taken over, and the business was incorporated as the Knickerbocker Mills Co., with Mr. Fitzpatrick as president. The Knickerbocker Mills, acquired by the corporation, had been founded in 1842 and were for more than forty years at 154–156 Chambers Street. The business is now at 196–198 Chambers Street.
Many of the pioneers in the coffee roasting business of this country were men who came from the British Isles and Germany. A notable figure from the latter country was Benedickt Fischer, who knew coffee in Germany before coming to New York in his nineteenth year. He started at 323–329 Greenwich Street, near Duane Street, in 1859. His first roaster was a primitive affair built under the E.J. Hyde patent by the Coffee Roaster & Mill Manufacturing Co. of Philadelphia. It was turned by hand by Fischer and his helper. This was about 1862. In 1864, the business required larger quarters, and was removed to the corner of Duane and Greenwich Streets. A new plant was erected at the corner of Beach and Greenwich Streets in 1894, and the present plant was erected at the corner of Franklin and Greenwich Streets in 1906. Upon the death of Benedickt Fischer in 1903, the business passed under the control of William H. Fischer, son of Benedickt, and Benedickt's son-in-law, Charles E. Diefenthaler, for many years associated with the house. At present, the company is a corporation, with C.E. Diefenthaler, president; T.F. Diefenthaler, vice-president and treasurer; and T.O. Budenbach, secretary.
Bowie Dash, a commanding figure in the New York green coffee trade, founded the Holland Coffee Co., roasters, in 1885. He placed H. Bartow in charge. Mr. Dash himself was never active in the affairs of the company. J. Bowie Dash, son of Bowie Dash, entered the Holland Coffee Co. as a boy. Bowie Dash died in 1894. Mr. Bartow left The Holland Coffee Co. in 1897 and J. Bowie Dash became president. He sold the company in 1917 to S.B. Morrison, who consolidated it with his Esperanza Coffee Co. The business is still conducted as the Holland Coffee Co., with Mr. Morrison as president, at 162 Front Street.
George Fisher was a well known coffee roaster of the sixties. He began in the old Hope Mills, 71 Fulton Street, and, at the age of thirty, entered into partnership with D.C. Ripley, establishing the Hudson Mills. The firm became Sanger, Beers & Fisher in 1868; Mr. Fisher retired in 1882; and died in 1896.
Peter Haulenbeek began work as delivery boy in a grocery store. He entered the coffee business in the sixties in the employ of Wright Gillies, and went into the wholesale coffee-roasting trade under his own name at 170 Duane Street in 1876. His son, John W. Haulenbeek, Sr., came into his father's business in 1887. Peter Haulenbeek died January 15, 1894, and the firm name was changed to John W. Haulenbeek & Co. The business remained in the same building up to 1916, when it was moved to its present location at 393 Greenwich Street. John W. Haulenbeek, Jr., of the third generation, is now active in the business.
A leading figure in the sixties was James Brown, who started as an engineer, rose to a partnership, and retired after the Civil War, a wealthy man. He was a partner with Thomas Reid in the old Globe Mills. He was also associated with B. Fischer in the firm of Fischer, Kirby & Brown, and established the firm of Brown & Scott in Duane Street, where Peter Haulenbeek succeeded to the business. Afterward, he continued in the firms of Brown & Jones and Bisland & Brown, and died in 1898.
Van Loan, Maguire & Gaffney was a formidable combination in the coffee-roasting business in its day. Thomas Van Loan was for thirty years a partner in the firm of W.J. Stitt & Co. (William J. Stitt was in business at 173 Washington Street in the fifties). Joseph Maguire was a practical spice grinder. Hugh Gaffney was with Brown & Scott until the firm retired in 1879, and for ten years thereafter he traveled for B. Fischer & Co. Then he became a member of the firm of Benedict & Gaffney. Ill health caused his temporary retirement; but he returned to the business in 1897 when he organized the firm of Van Loan, Maguire & Gaffney. Joseph Maguire died in 1904.
Mr. Gaffney died on March 20, 1912, and the name of the business was changed to Van Loan & Co., with Thomas Van Loan as the head of the business, under which name and management it still continues at 64 North Moore Street.
O'Donohue is a well known name in the development of both the green and roasted coffee trade of New York City. John O'Donohue was a leader in the green coffee business in 1830. It was John O'Donohue's Sons in 1873. John B. O'Donohue, son of Peter O'Donohue and grandson of the original John, after leaving John O'Donohue's Sons, formed a partnership with Robert C. Stewart (the present head of R.C. Stewart & Co.) to engage in the green coffee jobbing business as O'Donohue & Stewart. This partnership was dissolved in 1893. For a few years, John O'Donohue was associated with the coffee-roasting firm of Wing Bros. & Hart. About 1898, he formed the O'Donohue Coffee Co. at 284 Front Street. In 1910, this was consolidated with the Potter Coffee Co. and Bennett, Sloan & Co. to form the Potter, Sloan, O'Donohue Co. The firm dissolved in 1915. Ellis M. Potter came to New York from the Potter-Parlin Spice Mills in Cincinnati. Mr. O'Donohue died in 1918.
In the seventies Frederick Akers was proprietor of the oldest and best known trade roasting establishment in New York. The plant was known as the Atlas Mills, and was at 17 Jay Street. Mr. Akers died in 1901. The same year, William J. Morrison and Walter B. Boinest, former employees of Akers, formed a partnership to carry on the same kind of business at 413 Greenwich Street. It is still at that address under the name of Morrison & Boinest Co.
Col. William P. Roome, a Chesterfieldian figure among New York coffee roasters, came into the trade in 1876, when he established the firm of William P. Roome & Co., with T.L. Vickers as partner. In the Civil War that had preceded, young Roome (he was then nineteen) had distinguished himself as a conspicuous hero of the Sixth Army Corps, having entered the service as a second lieutenant in the Sixty-fifth New York Volunteers.
William P. Roome & Co. first engaged in the importation of tea, but they added coffee to the business in 1889. Col. Roome disposed of it in 1903 to assume charge of the tea and coffee department of the Acker, Merrall & Condit Company, a position which he still holds.
Frederick A. Cauchois, another picturesque figure among New York coffee roasters, entered the trade as a clerk in the New York office of Chase & Sanborn in 1875. After further tutelage under Frank Williams in the coffee brokerage business, he bought the old Fulton Mills (Colgate Gilbert & Co., 1848), in Fulton Street, where he did some of the most original advertising for coffee that the trade has seen. His Private Estate coffee in little burlap bags, his donkey train that carried the bags of green coffee through the streets of the metropolis, his system of delivering fresh coffee daily to the grocery trade, and his Japanese paper filter device to insure the proper making of the coffee, made him famous. He brought something of the spirit of the old English coffee house to America, and incorporated it in Keen's Chop House in New York. He died in 1918.
The business of Russell & Co. was founded by Robert S. Russell & Frank Smith at 107 Water Street in 1875. In 1895, S.L. Davis, one of the present owners, formerly with Merrit & Ronaldson, became a partner. In 1900, Frank C. Russell, son of the senior member, was admitted to a partnership; and upon the death of his father in 1904, he and Mr. Davis became owners of the business.
Ross W. Weir, who, in addition to being a successful New York coffee roaster, has also attained prominence as president of the National Coffee Roasters Association and chairman of the Joint Coffee Trade Publicity Committee, handling the million dollar coffee advertising campaign, was born in New York in 1859, the son of J.B. Weir, one of the pioneer forty-niners, who at one time was engaged in the export commission business in San Francisco.
Mr. Weir began his business career as a general utility boy in the jobbing grocery house of S.H. Williamson, 36 Broadway, New York, in 1875. Then he was a clerk for Park & Tilford, office man with Arbuckle Bros, and with Geo. C. Chase & Co., tea importers, for two years, afterward being admitted to a junior partnership. In 1886, the firm of Ross W. Weir & Co. was formed to engage in the roasting of coffee and importing and jobbing of teas at 105 Front Street. In 1887, the business was removed to 58–60 Front Street. When the corporation of Ross W. Weir, Inc. was formed in 1915 to take over the business of E.J. Gillies & Co. Inc., Mr. Weir became president and treasurer of the combined organization.
A reference to other pioneers in the wholesale coffee-roasting trade may not be amiss here, even though it involves a repetition of some names that have been given special mention in the case of New York. In the list that follows are included the most prominent firms and the best known names that helped make roasted coffee history in the United States in the nineteenth century, particularly from 1845 to 1900:
New York. The most prominent firms in the business in New York in the sixties were: Thomas Reid & Co., Globe Mills; Geo. A. Merwin & Co.; Levi Rowley, Star Mills; A.B. Thorn; Fischer & Lehmann, later Fischer & Thurber, and Fischer, Kirby & Brown; Knickerbocker & Cooke; A.D. Thurber; Wm. J. Stitt & Co.; Samuel Wilde's Sons.
In the seventies, in addition to most of the above list, there were: Pupke & Reid; Arbuckle Bros.; Edward A. Phelps, Jr.; Bonnett, Schenck & Earle; Fischer & Lansing; J.G. Worth; Jackson & Co.; Charles Conway; Neidlinger & Schmidt; James L. Arcularius; S.M. Beard, Sons & Co.; H.K. Thurber & Co.; Wright Gillies & Bro.; Bennett & Becker; Great American Tea Co.; Brown & Scott.
Between 1876 and 1900 the following well known names appeared in the trade: Frederick Akers; Eppens-Smith Co., afterward Eppens, Smith & Wiemann Co., and later Eppens Smith Co.; B. Fischer & Co.; R.P. McBride; Fitzpatrick & Case, afterward A.C. Fitzpatrick & Co.; Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.; Loudon & Johnson; Edwin Scott; Peter Haulenbeek, afterward Haulenbeek & Mitchell, and Haulenbeek Roasting & Milling Co.; Joseph Stiner & Co.; Austin, Nichols & Co.; Bennett, Sloan & Co.; Gillies Coffee Co.; Benedict & Gaffney, afterward Van Loan, Maguire & Gaffney; Ross W. Weir & Co.; Union Pacific Tea Co.; Hillis Plantation Co.; Edwin J. Gillies & Co.; Jones Bros.; Holland Coffee Co.; Samuel Crooks & Co.; Benedict & Thomas.
1—W.F. McLaughlin, Chicago; 2—J.G. Flint, Milwaukee; 3—Frank J. Geiger, Indianapolis; 4—Samuel Mahood, Pittsburgh; 5—Henry A. Stephens, Cleveland; 6—W.H. Harrison, Cincinnati; 7—Albert A. Sprague, Chicago; 8—D.Y. Harrison, Cincinnati; 9—William Grossman, Milwaukee; 10—Edward Canby, Dayton; 11—Thomas J. Boardman, Hartford; 12—Francis Widlar, Cleveland; 13—O.W. Pierce, Sr., Lafayette. Ind.; 14—A.M. Thomson Chicago; 15—Samuel Young, Pittsburgh; 16—Alvin M. Woolson, Toledo; 17—Martin Hayward, Boston; 18—George C. Wright, Boston; 19—William Boardman, Hartford; 20—James S. Sanborn, Boston; 21—James Heekin, Cincinnati; 22—James F. Dwinell, Boston; 23—Caleb Chase, Boston
Boston. Among the pioneers in the coffee-roasting business in Boston were: N. Berry & Sons; Blanchard & Bro.; Carter, Mann & Co.; Noah Davis & Co.; Dyer & Co.; E. Emerson; Flint Bros. & Co.; J.T. & N. Glines; Hayward & Co.; Geo. W. Higgins & Co.; Hill, Dwinell & Co.; H.B. Newhall; Richardson & Lane; N. Robinson & Co.; Russell & Fessenden; Stickney & Poor; E.H. Swett; the Tremont Coffee & Spice Mills; Swain, Earle & Co.; and the Martin L. Hall Co.
Between 1876 and 1900 these names were among those added: Shapleigh Coffee Co.; Gilman L. Parker; W.S. Quinby & Co.; Thomas Wood & Co.
Dwinell & Co. and Hayward & Co. both engaged in the coffee roasting business about 1845. In 1876, they, James F. Dwinell, Martin Hayward, and his brother-in-law George C. Wright, joined hands under the name of Dwinell, Hayward & Co. In 1894, Mr. Hayward having previously retired, the name of the firm was changed to Dwinell, Wright & Co. Mr. Dwinell died in 1898; and in 1899, Mr. Wright formed a Massachusetts corporation under the present name, Dwinell-Wright Co. George C. Wright died, 1910, and his son, George S. Wright, who had been treasurer, became president. A grandson, Warren M. Wright, and a nephew, G. E. Crampton, together with R.O. Miller and Charles H. Holland, are active in the present conduct of the business.
Caleb Chase with Messrs. Carr and Raymond founded the firm of Carr, Chase & Raymond at 32 Broad Street in 1864. The name was changed to Chase, Raymond & Ayer in 1871. James S. Sanborn, who had formerly been in the coffee and spice trade at Lewiston, Me., with a branch office in Boston, combined with Caleb Chase to form Chase & Sanborn in 1878. Charles D. Sias was admitted to the firm in 1882. A Montreal office was opened in 1884. Charles E. Sanborn, son of James S., was admitted in 1888. James S. Sanborn died in 1903, and Charles E. Sanborn died two years later. Charles D. Sias died in 1913.
Swain, Earle & Co. were established about 1868. In the same year, Byron T. Thayer entered the employ of the firm as a bookkeeper. He was taken into partnership in 1884, and upon the death of Mr. Earle, became managing partner. In 1915, he was the sole surviving partner of the company. He died in the latter part of 1921; and the business was absorbed by Alexander H. Bill & Co. in January, 1922.
Philadelphia. The following were the most prominent Philadelphia coffee roasters in 1861: Grever & Bro.; Henry Hinkle; William Johnston; George Kelly; Thornley & Ryan; Thornley & Bro.; Vankorn, Guggenheimer & Co.; D.J. Chapman; Bohler & Weikel; Charles Kroberger; and James R. Webb & Son.
Later came: Robert J. Rule & Bro.; G. Boyd & Co.; Nutrio Mfg. Co.; C.J. Fell & Bro.; R.R. & A. Deverall; C. Thomas; William H. Cheetham, Jr.; Hill & Thornley; George Ogden & Co.; Weikel & Smith; and Alexander Sheppard.
Between 1876 and 1900 these names appear; Henry A. Fry & Co.; Robert Smith & Sons; B.S. Janney, Jr. & Co.; and Weikel & Smith Spice Co.
Robert Smith came as a country lad to Philadelphia, and drove a wagon for Jesse Thornley, a coffee roaster. In a few years, he had secured an interest in the firm; and in 1860, the name was changed to Thornley & Smith. Mr. Thornley died in 1872, and Mr. Smith bought out the Thornley interests and traded as Robert Smith until 1889. In that year, he admitted his eldest son, Robert A. Smith, into the firm, which became Robert Smith & Son. William T., another son, was admitted in 1889, the firm name being changed again to Robert Smith & Sons. Robert Smith, Sr., retired in 1902. In the same year his youngest son, George H. Smith, was admitted to the firm, and it became Robert Smith's Sons, the active members being William T. and George H. Smith.
James R. Webb established the coffee roasting business of James R. Webb & Son in 1833. It was taken over by Alexander Sheppard in 1870. Later it became Alex. Sheppard & Sons, Inc. Mr. Sheppard died in 1916, and the business has been conducted by a corporation in which his four children are the principal stockholders.
Chicago. Some pioneers in the Chicago trade were: Alfred H. Blackall; Excelsior Mills (Downer & Co.); Huntoon & Towner; W.F. McLaughlin; Knowles, Cloyes & Co.; Thomson & Taylor; H.F. Griswold; G.M. Hall; John L. Davies & Co.; Bell, Conrad & Webster; Sprague, Warner & Co.; Lee & Murbach; A. Stephens & Co.; and Whiting, Goeble & Co.
In the period between 1876 and 1900 the following became well known: Sprague, Warner & Griswold; Reid, Murdoch & Fischer; E.B. Millar Spice Co.; Wm. M. Hoyt Co.; Franklin MacVeagh & Co.; Sherman Bros. & Co.; H.C. & C. Durand; A.H. Pratt; McNeil & Higgins Co.; J.H. Bell & Co.; J.H. Conrad & Co.; Steele-Wedeles Co.; Krag-Reynolds Co.; Arbuckle Bros., and Puhl-Webb Co.
H.C. Durand organized the wholesale grocery house of Durand & Co. in 1851. Calvin Durand entered the firm in 1879, and the name was changed to H.C. & C. Durand. Adam J. Kaspar began to work in a retail grocery. In 1875, he went with the wholesale grocery firm of James Forsythe & Co. and two years later with H.C. & C. Durand. In 1894, the name was changed to Durand & Kasper. H.C. Durand died in 1901, and Calvin Durand died in 1911. Durand & Kasper merged, 1921, with Henry Horner & Co. and McNeil & Higgins into the Wholesale Grocers Corporation.
Samuel A. Downer founded the Excelsior Mills (Downer & Co.) in 1853. Sidney O. Blair entered the employ of the company in 1871. E.B. Millar & Co. took over the business in 1878, incorporating under that name in 1882. Mr. Blair retired in 1913, and W.S. Rice was elected president. He died in 1918, and Mr. Blair was re-elected president; with W.C. Shope, vice-president; and C.S. Mauran, secretary and treasurer.
In the spring of 1862, Albert A. Sprague came to Chicago from Vermont. With Z. B. Stetson he formed the firm of Sprague & Stetson, wholesale grocers. Mr. Stetson retired the following year, and a new partnership was formed with Ezra J. Warner, under the name of Sprague & Warner. In 1864, O.S.A. Sprague, a young brother of the senior partner, was admitted to the firm, which was reorganized under the style of Sprague, Warner & Co. Under this name it has since continued. About the year 1876, machinery was installed, and the roasting of coffee began. Oscar Remmer entered the employ of the company in 1878 at the age of 16, and became manager of the mill department in 1895. In 1912, he was made a member of the board of directors, and was elected vice-president in 1919. O.S.A. Sprague died in 1909, Ezra J. Warner Sr. in 1910, and Albert A. Sprague in 1915.
In 1865, A.M. Thomson, at that time a salesman for A.H. Blackall, owner of the American Mills, arranged with a Mr. Berg and a Mr. Davis to go in the coffee-roasting business with him as Berg, Thomson & Davis. After a year, however, the name became A.M. Thomson. James Thomson, a brother, came into the firm in 1868, and it was then called A.M. & James Thomson. A year later, it became A.M. Thomson again. In 1872, immediately after the fire, Mr. Taylor, a member of the firm of Whiting & Taylor, joined Mr. Thomson under the firm name of Thomson & Taylor. They continued the business under this name about ten years, until it was incorporated in 1883 under the name of Thomson & Taylor Spice Co. Among the wholesale grocers who became stockholders at that time was W.S. Warfield, of Quincy, Ill., who, in 1901, with his son, John D. Warfield, bought most of Mr. Thomson's holdings and obtained a controlling interest. The name was changed in 1920 to the Thomson & Taylor Co.
William F. McLaughlin founded the firm of W.F. McLaughlin & Co. in 1865. He died in 1905; and the business was incorporated with his son, George D., as president, and another son, Frederick, as secretary and treasurer.
The Puhl-Webb Company, founded, 1882, as a partnership by Thomas J. Webb and John Puhl, was incorporated in 1896.
St. Louis. The following were among the pioneer coffee firms of St. Louis, dating back to the 1860–70 decade: James H. Forbes; Flint, Evans & Co.; Wm. Schotten & Co.; Fred W. Meyer; H. & J. Menown; Cavanaugh, Rearick & Co.; and Frederick A. Churchill & Co.
From 1876 to 1900 there were added: Nash, Smith & Co.; Fink & Nasse Co.; Hanley & Kinsella Coffee & Spice Co.; Flugel & Popp; C.F. Blanke Tea & Coffee Co.; Steinwender, Stoffregen & Co.; David G. Evans & Co.; and the Aroma Coffee & Spice Co.
David Nicholson established a tea and coffee business under the name of the Franklin Tea Warehouse in 1853. A year later, James H. Forbes, born in Kinross, Scotland, bought out Nicholson. In 1857, A.E. Forbes, his son, came into the store after school hours, and was admitted to partnership in 1870. The retail end of the business was dropped in 1880. Robert M., the younger son of James H., was taken into the firm a few years after A.E. Forbes. James H. Forbes died in 1890, and the business has since been carried on by his sons as the James H. Forbes Tea & Coffee Co. James H. Forbes installed the first Burns roaster in St. Louis, and always claimed to have been the first man to roast coffee in the middle west.
William Schotten began his roasting business in 1862, although he had been in the grocery business since 1847. A short time later, a brother, Christian Schotten, came to the United States from Germany and was admitted to partnership, the firm becoming William Schotten & Bro. Christian died in 1866, and a brother-in-law, Henry Verborg, was admitted, the name being changed to William Schotten & Co. William died in 1874, and the business devolved upon his eldest son, Hubertus. In 1878, another son, Julius J., was taken in at the age of 17. Hubertus died in 1897, and Julius became manager and sole proprietor. He died in 1919. Since that time, his son, Jerome J., has carried on the business, which continues under the name of the Wm. Schotten Coffee Co.
The firm of David G. Evans & Co. was founded in 1856 by David G. Evans under the style of Flint, Evans & Co., changed in 1870 to David G. Evans & Co. David G. Evans died in 1916, and the name of the company was changed in 1917, to the David G. Evans Coffee Co., with Gwynne Evans, a son of David G., as president of the corporation.
The George Nash Grocery Co. bought the Eagle Coffee and Spice Mills from the estate of Mathew Hunt in 1870. About this time Michael E. Smith, who had been with the concern for a number of years, was made a partner. The firm was incorporated in 1887 as the Nash-Smith Tea & Coffee Co. George Nash, Sr., died in 1910.
Cincinnati. Among the pioneer coffee roasters in Cincinnati were: John C. Appenzeller; Blook & Varwig; J. Brock; Cincinnati Spice Mills; Eagle Spice Mills; Harrison & Wilson; Parker & Dixon; Kilgour & Taylor; J.M. Krout; Succop & Lips; and H.R. Droste.
After the centennial year and previous to 1900, the following names were added: Potter & Parlin; James Heekin & Co.; Flugel & Popp; Utter, Adams & Ellen; J. Henry Koenig & Co.; F.W. Hinz; and the Woolson Spice Co.
D.Y. Harrison, then thirty-five years old, came from Newark, N.J., and settled in Cincinnati in 1843, opening a coffee roasting business as Harrison & Wilson. He used an old pull-out roaster with first a negro, and then a horse-power tread-mill, for power. A few years later, W.H. Harrison, a son of the founder, was admitted to the firm, the name at that time being Parker & Harrison. D.Y. Harrison died in 1872. Fire totally destroyed the plant in 1875. W.H. Harrison then formed a partnership with J.W. Utter, and started in again. He sold out to his partner in 1883 and went in business for himself as W.H. Harrison & Co. D.Y. Harrison is said to have been the first man to roast coffee west of Pittsburg.
The Heekin Company was established in 1870 by James Heekin and Barney Corbett as a partnership under the name of Corbett & Heekin. In a short time, Corbett died; and the name of the firm was then changed to James Heekin & Co. Alexander Stuart was admitted to the partnership about 1883, and retired four years later. James J. Heekin, older son of James Heekin, was admitted to partnership in 1892. Charles Lewis, after twenty years' experience in the coffee trade in Louisville, Cincinnati, and New York, was admitted to the firm in 1895. James Heekin died in 1904. Upon his death, a corporation was formed under the name of the James Heekin Company, with Charles Lewis as president, continuing until he retired in 1919. In this year a new corporation, called the Heekin Company, was formed, taking over the business of the James Heekin Co. and the Heekin Spice Co., the latter having been organized in 1899. James J. Heekin was chosen president of the new company, with Albert E. Heekin, vice-president; and Robert E. Heekin, secretary and general manager.
1—J.B. Sinnot, New Orleans; 2—Julius J. Schotten, St. Louis; 3—Charles Stoffregen, St. Louis; 4—W.T. Jones, New Orleans; 5—J.A. Folger. jr., San Francisco; 6—M.E. Smith, St. Louis; 7—A.E. Forbes, St. Louis; 8—David G. Evans, St. Louis; 9—W.J. Kinsella, St. Louis; 10—James H. Forbes, St. Louis; 11—J.A. Folger, Sr., San Francisco; 12—Joseph Closset, Portland, Ore.; 13—J. Zinsmeister, Louisville; 14—Wm. Schotten, St. Louis; 15—A. Schilling, San Francisco; 16—M.J. Brandenstein, San Francisco; 17—J.O. Cheek, Nashville; 18—A.H. Devers, Portland, Ore.
Louisville. Pioneers in this early center of coffee roasting in the south were: Thornton & Hawkins; Charles J. Bouche; H.N. Gage; A. Engelhard; and Jacob Zinsmeister.
R.J. Thornton & Co. were founded in 1837 by Richard J. Thornton and Thomas Hawkins, as Thornton & Hawkins. Thornton died in 1860. His interests remained, but the firm changed to Hawkins & Thornton. Hawkins died in 1877, and Mrs. Thornton, having purchased the Hawkins interest, ran the business as R.J. Thornton & Co. until her death in 1885. John Hayes, her son-in-law, then bought the company; and when he died in 1904, his widow ran the business with Thomas A. Crawford as manager. Mrs. Hayes, the last of the Thornton family, died in 1919, and her interests were sold to Crawford and R.H. Dorn, an old employee. The firm first roasted coffee about 1846. It is interesting to note that the plant has occupied the present site since its founding, eighty-four years ago.
Albert Engelhard, Sr., founded in 1855 a wholesale grocery house which later became A. Engelhard & Sons, Inc. In 1879, George; in 1882, Victor H.; and in 1883, Albert, Jr.; all sons of the founder, entered the business. Upon moving into larger quarters in 1890, all of the sons were taken in as partners. Albert Engelhard, Sr., retired in 1892, and the management was assumed by Victor H. The business increased rapidly, and in 1897 the firm moved to its present location. Incorporated in 1901, the wholesale grocery end was abandoned in 1903, and the concern became a strictly coffee, tea, and spice house. Victor H. Engelhard died in 1918; and his sons, Victor, Jr., and R.W. Engelhard, who had been in the business for several years, assumed active management. Victor Engelhard, Sr., was prominent in coffee affairs and in the early work of the National Coffee Roasters Association.
Jacob Zinsmeister, of J. Zinsmeister & Sons, was another old-time Louisville coffee man. Before he started roasting, he was a big factor in the green coffee trade. The business was established in 1866 at New Albany, Ind., by Frank Zinsmeister, Sr., but was later moved to Louisville. Jacob Zinsmeister was taken into the business in 1872, and the name was changed to Frank Zinsmeister & Son. He is still active in business, although he has turned the management over to his three sons.
New Orleans. Men and firms active in early coffee roasting in New Orleans were: Shaw's Louisiana Coffee and Spice Mills; Ruliff, Clark & Co.; R. Poursini & Co.; and Smith & McKenna.
Between 1876 and 1900 were added: New Orleans Coffee Co.; Smith Bros. & Co.; Southern Coffee Polishing Mills; and Cage & Drew.
Smith Bros. & Co. were organized in 1863 as Smith & McKenna. Mr. McKenna died in 1872, and the firm name was changed to Smith Bros. & Co. The two Smith brothers died in 1891, and 1892. About 1900, the name became Smith Bros. & Co., Ltd., and J.B. Sinnot, who had been employed for a number of years by the firm, gained control. The company failed in 1913. Mr. Sinnot then entered the coffee brokerage business, in which he remained until his death in 1917.
Born in New Orleans in 1865, Daniel H. Hoffman started work as a sample clerk in the office of E.P. Cottraux, who was at that time the only coffee broker in New Orleans. In 1887, Mr. Hoffman started in business for himself. In 1894, he opened the Southern Coffee Polishing Mills, which have since become the Southern Coffee Mills, Inc.
W.T. Jones, for many years in business as a coffee broker in Keokuk, Iowa, founded the New Orleans Coffee Co. in 1890. He died in 1919.
R.H. Cage and J.C. Drew organized in 1898 the firm of Cage & Drew. In 1900, they established the Louisiana Coffee Mills, under the name and style of Cage, Drew & Co., Ltd.
Ben C. Casanas joined the New Orleans Coffee Co. as a city salesman, and later became a road salesman. He withdrew in 1901 to organize the Merchants Coffee Co. of New Orleans, Ltd.
San Francisco. Pioneer coffee roasters in San Francisco were: J.A. Folger & Co.; Charles Berhard; H. Gates; D. Ghirardelli & Co.; E. Loeven & Co.; Marden & Myrick; Maine & Eckerenkotter; G. Venard; and Charles Zwick.
Between 1876 and 1900 the following were added: A. Schilling & Co.; W.H. Miner; Siegfried & Brandenstein; George W. Caswell.
J.A. Folger & Co. were established in 1850 as Wm. H. Bovee & Co. A few years later, the name became Marden & Folger, Mr. Folger having been connected with the old firm. In the early sixties the name was changed to J.A. Folger & Co. Two employees were taken into the firm in 1878. These were A. Schilling and a Mr. Lamb. The company was now called Folger, Schilling & Co. This partnership was dissolved in 1881, and the business continued as J. A. Folger & Co. Mr. Folger died in 1890, and the firm was then incorporated under the same name.
Shortly after Folger, Schilling & Co. was dissolved, A. Schilling and George Volkman formed the firm of A. Schilling & Co. Mr. Schilling began his career as an office boy with J.A. Folger in 1871.
M.J. Brandenstein and John C. Siegfried formed a co-partnership under the name of Siegfried & Brandenstein in 1880. Mr. Brandenstein bought out his partner in 1894, and took in his brothers, Manfred and Edward, the firm name becoming M. J. Brandenstein & Co.
George W. Caswell started in the retail tea and coffee business in San Francisco under his own name in 1885. In 1898, the business became wholesale only. It was incorporated in 1901 as the George W. Caswell Co. The company took over the brands and travelling organization of Lievre, Frick & Co., which went into a dissolution of partnership in 1902.
Milwaukee. Prominent among early coffee roasters of Milwaukee were: W. & J. G. Flint; James Ryan & Co.; J.B. Reynolds; Jewett & Sherman; and C.E. Andrews & Co. Later we find added the Wm. Grossman Co.
J.G. Flint and Wyman Flint founded the business known as W. & J.G. Flint in 1858. J.G. Flint bought out his brother in 1880 and continued as the J.G. Flint Co., owner of the Star Coffee and Spice Mills. He died in 1896. The business was incorporated in 1901 as the J.G. Flint Co., with W.K. Flint, a son of J.G., as president. The Jewett & Sherman Co. took control in 1911.
Professor Milo P. Jewett, Professor S.S. Sherman, and his brother, William Sherman, founded the firm of Jewett, Sherman & Co. in 1867, and continued under that name until 1875, when it was incorporated as Jewett & Sherman Co., with Milo P. Jewett as president, and Henry B. Sherman, secretary and treasurer. Professor S.S. Sherman and his sons, Fred and Henry B., sold out their interests in 1878 and formed a new business in Chicago under the name of Sherman Bros. & Co. William M. Sherman then became president of Jewett & Sherman Co., and Charles A. Murdock, a nephew of S.S. and William Sherman, was made secretary and treasurer. Mr. Murdock withdrew in 1881 and established the C.A. Murdock Mfg. Co. in Kansas City. In that same year, William H. Sherman, another nephew, became a stockholder and one of the directors of Jewett & Sherman Co. Dr. Lewis Sherman succeeded his father as president of the company in 1891, and served in that capacity until his death in 1915, when he was succeeded by his son, Lewis Sherman, who is president of the company at the present time (1922). John Horter, who is now secretary, joined the business in 1877.
William Grossman started in the wholesale grocery business in 1886. John and Henry Dahlman were admitted to partnership in 1889. About three years later, the latter closed out his interests to J.F.W. Imbusch. The present corporation was established in 1892 as Wm. Grossman & Co. The firm was incorporated August 1, 1916, as the Wm. Grossman Co., with Wm. Grossman as president, George A. Grossman as vice-president, and Paul E. Apel as secretary and treasurer.
Another old-time coffee man of Milwaukee was Charles A. Clark, who had been in the coffee business for nearly twenty years before he organized the present business of Clark & Host Co.
Toledo. The pioneer roasting firms here seem to have been: Warren & Bedwell; and J.B. Baldy & Co. Later, after 1876, we find added the Bour Company, and the Woolson Spice Co.
The latter company was founded in 1882 by A.M. Woolson, who up to that time had conducted a successful retail grocery business for several years. The Woolson Spice Co. was sold to H.O. Havemeyer of New York in 1896, the reputed sale price being $2,000,000. A.M. Woolson retired from business at that time. Upon the death of Mr. Havemeyer, the company passed into the hands of Hermann Sielcken; and when he died, an American company secured control.
The Bour Company was incorporated in 1892, following a partnership which had succeeded to a small business concern under the name of the Eagle Spice Company. The principal stockholders were: J.M. Bour, F.G. Kendrick, and Albro Blodgett. Mr. Blodgett bought the Bour interests in 1909 and with S.W. Beckley, who had been sales manager for a number of years, acquired practically all the other outside interests. The name was changed in 1921 to the Blodgett-Beckley Co., the officers being Albro Blodgett, president, S.W. Beckley, vice-president and manager, and Henry P. Blodgett, secretary and treasurer.
Cleveland. Pioneers in Cleveland were: Smith & Curtis; A. Stephens & Sons; John H. Ganse; and W.D. Drake & Co. In 1870, we find Edwards, Townsend & Co.; Knight, Eberman & Co.; Talbot, Winslow & Co.; Williams & Tait; and Lemmon & Son, added.
Beards & Cummings, coffee roasters of New York City, established a branch in Cleveland under the management of Alvan Stephens in 1855. Later, Stephens took over the business for himself and changed the name to Frisbie & Stephens. In 1861 Alvan's sons, Henry A. and Samuel R., were admitted and the firm became A. Stephens & Sons. Alvan Stephens died in 1873, and Samuel moved to Chicago to open a branch. He died in 1878. Henry A. continued the business until 1881, when Francis Widlar was admitted to partnership, and the name was changed to Stephens & Widlar. Henry A. Stephens died in 1897, and A.L. Somers, H.H. Hewitt, and D.D. Hudson, all old employees, were admitted, and the firm name was changed to F. Widlar & Co. Carl W. Brand, a nephew of Francis Widlar, joined the company in 1898. Upon the death of his uncle, the business was incorporated as the Widlar Co., and Mr. Brand became president in 1910.
Pittsburgh. Next to New York, Pittsburg was one of the first cities to forge to the front as a coffee-roasting center. These are the firms that were among the leaders in the period between 1860 and 1870: Arbuckles & Co.; W.T. Bown & Bro.; Dilworth Bros.; Rinehart & Stevens; T.C. Jenkins & Bro.; Carter Bros. & Co.; J.S. Dilworth & Co.; Jesse H. Lippincott; Shields & Boucher; and Haworth & Dewhurst.
Samuel Young, Samuel Mahood, and E. B. Mahood formed a partnership as Young, Mahood & Co. in 1879. E.B. Mahood withdrew in 1890. Samuel Mahood retired in 1906, and the company was incorporated as the Young-Mahood Company, with Samuel Young as president, and W. James Mahood as vice-president and general manager.
Portland, Oregon. Early roasters in the trade of this city were: J.F. Jones; H. C. Hudson & Co.; Marden & Folger; Verdier & Closset; and Closset & Devers.
Joseph and Emile Closset formed a partnership as Closset Bros, in 1880. A.H. Devers, who had been a salesman with Folger, Schilling & Co., San Francisco, and later with A. Schilling & Co., bought out Emile Closset in 1883, and the firm became Closset & Devers. Joseph Closset died in 1915.
Baltimore. Pioneer roasters in Baltimore were: Joseph Braas; Daniel Many; George Pearson; Sylvester Ruth; and John G. Siegman. These were quickly followed by Barclay & Hasson; Zoller & Little; Benjamin Berry; Jesse Lazear; and others.
Later, after 1876, came: E. Levering & Co.; the Enterprise Coffee Co.; C.D. Kenny; J.W. Laughlin & Co., now Le Morgan Coffee Co.; and the Saxon Coffee Company.
Detroit. In Detroit in 1860–70 were: Evans & Walker; Farrington, Campbell & Co.; A.R. & W.F. Linn; J.H. Riggs; and Palmer, Warner & Co. After 1876 were added Sinclair, Evans & Elliot; Huber & Stendel; and J.A. Parent & Co.
Other Cities. Names of pioneer roasters of other towns in 1860 and 1870 were: George Boardman, Albany, N.Y.; Chubuck & Saunders, Binghamton, N.Y.; George W. Hayward, and P.J. Ferris, Buffalo, N.Y.; Lorimore Bros., and George R. Forrester, Elmira, N.Y.; Hatch & Jenks, Jamestown, N.Y.; N.B. Beede, Newburgh, N.Y.; A.F. Booth, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; Ethridge, Tuller & Co., Rome, N.Y.; M.N. Van Zandt & Co., L.B. Eddy & Co., and C.T. Moore, Rochester, N.Y.; Ostrander, Loomis & Co., and Jacob Crouse & Co., Syracuse, N.Y.; C.H. Garrison, Troy, N.Y.; Hinchman & Howard, and J. Griffiths & Co., Utica, N.Y.; B.F. Hoopes, Bloomington, Ill.; C.P. Farrell, and Charles Richards, Peoria, Ill.; Slemmons & Conkling, Springfield, Ill.; Henry Wales, Bridgeport, Conn.; A.B. Gillett, Wm. Boardman & Sons, Hartford Steam Coffee & Spice Mills, and Park, Fellowes & Co., Hartford, Conn.; Benj. Peck & Kellum, and Steele & Emery, New Haven, Conn.; W.S. Scull & Co., Camden, N.J.; Theo. F. Johnson & Co., and the Pioneer Mills, Newark, N.J.; Charles A. Dunham, New Brunswick, N.J.; James Ronan and Wm. Dolton & Co., Trenton, N.J.; Butler, Earhart & Co., Columbus, Ohio; C.A. Trentman & Bro., and J.D. Beach & Co., Dayton, Ohio; W. & S. Stevens, and F.C. Dietz, Zanesville, Ohio; J.E. Tone, Des Moines, Iowa; H.P. Hess, Cornell & Smith, and E. Warne, Easton, Pa.; E.S. Forster, Erie, Pa.; Haehnlen Bros., Harrisburg, Pa.; D.G. Yuengling, Pottsville, Pa.; A. G. Zilmore & Co., Scranton, Pa.; Granger & Co., Titusville, Pa.; Huestis & Hamilton, and B. Trentman & Son, Ft. Wayne, Ind.; S. Hamill & Co., Keokuk, Ia.; H.H. Lee, and Maguire & Gillespie, Indianapolis, Ind.; Joseph Strong, Terre Haute, Ind.; Curtis & Burnham, Leavenworth, Kan.; Yates & Dudley, Lexington, Ky.; A. Turner, Wheeling, W. Va.; Granger & Hodge, and Nathaniel Crocker, St. Paul, Minn.; W.W. Totten & Bro., Nashville, Tenn.; Henry Burns, Savannah, Ga.; A. McFarland, Springfield, Mass.; Alexander Wills & Co., Montreal, Canada; and Peter Hendershot, St. Catherine, Canada.
Between 1876 and 1900, many other names came into prominence, and among them mention should be made of: H. Hulman, Terre Haute, Ind.; A.B. Gates & Co., and Schnull & Krag, Indianapolis, Ind.; O.W. Pierce Co., and Geiger-Tinney Co., Lafayette, Ind.; Twitchell, Champlin & Co., Portland, Me.; Nave-McCord Mfg. Co., Mokaska Mfg. Co., and the Midland Spice Co., St. Joseph, Mo.; Beaham-Moffatt Mfg. Co., and C.A. Murdock & Co., Kansas City, Mo.; Clarke Bros. & Co., T. S. Grigor & Co., Consolidated Coffee Co., and McCord, Brady Co., Omaha, Neb.; Dayton Spice Mills Co., and Canby, Ach & Canby, Dayton, Ohio; Ohio Coffee & Spice Co., and Butler, Crawford & Co., Columbus, Ohio; Bacon, Stickney & Co., Albany, N.Y.; Charles R. Groff Co., St. Paul, Minn.; John G. Schuler, Covington, Ky.; J.W. Thomas & Son, Nashville, Tenn.; Geo. F. Hanley & Co., Los Angeles, Cal.; C.S. Morey Mercantile Co., Denver, Col.; and W.G. Lown Coffee Co., Washington, D.C.
William Boardman, founder of Wm. Boardman & Sons Co., Hartford, Conn., began roasting coffee at Wethersfield in 1841 with a hand-power roaster, using wood for fuel. He moved his plant to Hartford in 1850. In the same year, his son Thomas J., after serving a fifteen-year apprenticeship in a country store, entered his father's employ. Three years later, he and his brother, William F.J. Boardman, were admitted to the firm, the name being changed to Wm. Boardman & Sons. Howard F. Boardman, a son of Thomas J., began working in the business in 1880, and was admitted to partnership in 1888. The same year, the founder died and William F.J. retired. The business has since been conducted by Thomas J. and Howard F. Boardman.
The company was incorporated in 1898, and John Pepion was admitted. The president of the company, Thomas J. Boardman, is at the time of writing ninety years old. He still takes a very active interest in the business, and his "cup sense" is as acute as ever.
The O.W. Pierce Company, Lafayette, Ind. was founded in 1847 by Oliver Webster Pierce, Sr. Except for three years in the fifties, when the firm was known as Reynolds, Hatcher & Pierce, it has been known as the O.W. Pierce Company since it was established. The company was incorporated in 1905 with O.W. Pierce, Jr. as its head. The senior Mr. Pierce died in 1921. The firm first roasted coffee in 1891. Prior to that time it had been in the wholesale grocery business.
The William S. Scull Co., Camden, N.J., was established in 1858 by William S. Scull, whose father had been in the retail tea and coffee business. William Scull died in 1916. H. Newmark founded H. Newmark & Co. in Los Angeles in 1865. He retired in 1886, and Maurice H. Newmark was made a full partner. The present name is M.A. Newmark & Co.
In 1868, Major David B. Hamill entered, as junior partner, the firm of S. Hamill & Co., Keokuk, Iowa, of which his father, Smith Hamill, was the head. Smith Hamill died in 1890, and David B. became head of the firm. He died in 1916.
William Tackaberry was a junior partner in the firm of S. Hamill & Co., Keokuk, Iowa. He began a business of his own in the same city in 1868. Ten years later, he moved the company to Sioux City, and continued there as the Wm. Tackaberry Co.
Joel O. Cheek began traveling for the wholesale grocery house of Webb, Hughes & Co., Nashville, Tenn., in 1873. Later, he was admitted to partnership, the firm becoming Webb, Cheek & Co., and then Cheek, Norton & Neal. He formed the Nashville Coffee & Mfg. Co., in 1899. It was merged in 1901 into the Cheek-Neal Coffee Co.
Jekiel and Isaac E. Tone began the business of Tone Bros. at Des Moines, Iowa, in March, 1873, with one roaster and one spice mill. The business was incorporated in 1897. Jekiel Tone died in 1900, and Isaac E. Tone in 1916. The business is now (1922) carried on by W.E. and Jay E. Tone.
Edward Canby began business in Dayton, Ohio, in 1875, succeeding the firm of J.D. Beach & Co. He retired in 1886, and the business was left in charge of Frank L. Canby and P.J. Ach. The latter had entered the employ of Canby in 1877. He secured an interest in the business in 1882, and became a partner in 1890. When the company was incorporated as Canby, Ach & Canby in 1904, he was elected president. Mr. Ach has been very prominent in the affairs of the National Coffee Roasters Association since its organization.
Frank J. Geiger began in the tea, coffee, and spice business in Lafayette, Ind., under the name of Culver & Geiger. Mr. Culver, who had never been active, died in 1889, and in 1892 the Geiger-Tinney Company was formed with F.J. Geiger as president. The plant was moved to Indianapolis in 1901 with William L. Horn as vice-president, and Henry C. Tinney as secretary and treasurer. The name was changed to the Geiger-Fishback Co. in 1912, and Mr. Geiger retired. Frank S. Fishback acquired all the stock of the company in 1918, and the name was changed to the Fishback Co. with F.S. Fishback, president; John S. Fishback, treasurer; and F. C. Fishback, secretary.
S. Holstad joined the Thomson & Taylor Spice Co of Chicago in 1892. He left in 1901 and went to Minneapolis, where he became a member of the firm of Atwood & Hoisted. He withdrew in 1908 to form the firm of S. Holstad & Co., with Charles Ekelund and Alexander W. Kreiser as partners. After the withdrawal of Mr. Holstad from Atwood & Holstad, Mr. Atwood continued as Atwood & Co.
F.P. Atha began work as a coffee salesman with Holman & Co., Terre Haute, Ind. He went to San Francisco in 1899 and entered the employ of J.A. Folger & Co., and introduced Folger products east of the Rockies. He opened the Kansas City branch in 1907; and a year later, he was admitted to the firm and made vice-president and general manager.
The first effort to organize the coffee roasters of the United States dates back to 1885, when several St. Louis coffee roasters came together in a kind of gentlemen's agreement not to cut the price of roasting green coffee, which had declined, owing to ruthless competition, from $1.00 to 10 cents a bag. The various parties to the agreement posted $500 checks each as forfeits, not to violate the price as fixed. After one year, a check was cashed; but the principal claimed his lapse was clerical and not in violation of the agreement. However, as a result of the argument that followed, the organization was disbanded.
Reading from left to right: W.B. Johnson, St. Louis; W.T. Jones, New Orleans; George Schulte, St. Louis; C.F. Blanke, St. Louis; Ben Casanas, New Orleans; Carl Stoffregen, St. Louis; Edward D. Hanly, Kansas City; H.C. Grote, St. Louis; James Menown, St. Louis; Frank P. Atha, Kansas City; Henry Petring, St. Louis; J.M. McFadden, Dubuque, Iowa; Joseph Maury, Memphis; T.F. Halligan, Davenport; F.J. Ach, Dayton; Carl Brand, Cleveland; Wm. Fisher, St. Louis; M.H. Gasser, Toledo; Julius J. Schotten, St. Louis; E.W. Bockman, Paducah, Ky.; Louis Christopherson, St. Louis; Felix Coste, St. Louis; W.E. Tone, Des Moines; Robert Meyer, St. Louis; Fred Roth, St. Louis; M.E. Smith. St. Louis; J.B. Dubrouilett, St. Louis; Floyd Norwine, St. Louis
As early as 1900, leaders of the trade's best thought began to urge the need of a national organization among coffee roasters.
As a result of informal meetings between men like Robert M. Forbes, Julius J. Schotten, Robert Meyer, and Messrs. Roth and Homeyer, around the luncheon table in St. Louis, to discuss trade abuses and bring about better trade co-operation, the subject of a St. Louis organization of coffee roasters began to be agitated about 1906. It was not until four years later, however, that the idea took definite form.
On September 14, 1910, the Traffic Association of St. Louis Coffee Importers was organized, starting out with a membership of ten firms, its chief object being to obtain an adjustment of freight rates to and from St. Louis as advantageous as those prevailing for Chicago and New York.
This association—of which Robert Meyer was the first president, and H.L. Homeyer, vice-president, J.S. Hartman, secretary, and G.H. Petring, treasurer—was the forerunner of the National Coffee Roasters Traffic and Pure Food Association organized in 1911 and now known as the National Coffee Roasters Association.
At the organization meeting of the national association twenty-six coffee-roasting establishments in the Mississippi Valley were represented at the conference held May 26–27 in the Planters Hotel, St. Louis. The objects of the new body were announced in the constitution, as:
First: To foster and promote a feeling of fellowship and good will among its members, and on broad and equitable lines to advance the welfare of the coffee trade and the consumer.
Second: To eliminate or minimize abuses, methods and practises inimical to the proper conduct of business.
Third: To assist in the enactment and enforcement of uniform pure food laws which in their operations shall deal justly and equitably with the rights of the consumer and the trade.
The association started with these officers: Julius J. Schotten, St. Louis, President; M.H. Gasser, Toledo, vice-president; W.E. Tone, Des Moines, treasurer, and W.J.H. Bown, St. Louis, secretary.
Meanwhile, as a result of an agitation started by The Tea and Coffee Trade Journal, a meeting of New York and eastern coffee roasters was called at the Fulton Club, New York, October 27, 1911, to discuss plans for a national organization. M. H. Gasser attended this meeting, and told of the plan of the western roasters to organize such an organization at a meeting called for Chicago the following month. The promoters of the eastern organization subsequently abandoned their efforts in favor of the western group.
At the first convention of the National Coffee Roasters Traffic and Pure Food Association, held in Chicago, November 16–17, 1911, all the foregoing officers were retained, the office of second vice-president was created, and Frank R. Seelye was selected to fill it.
That the organization idea was popular among the roasters was evident from the fact that at the close of the convention it was announced that the membership was then seventy-one firms in cities as far east as Virginia and as far west as Kansas City. The convention demonstrated that the association was really a national organization, which quieted suspicions prevalent in some quarters of the trade in the east that it was chiefly a Mississippi Valley unit.
The first convention is remembered principally because of Hermann Sielcken's defense of the Brazil coffee valorization plan, which was then the big question of the coffee trade. The titles of some of the other addresses will serve to indicate how the scope of the association had enlarged since its organization a few months before: "An Attack on Valorization" by Thomas J. Webb, of Chicago; "Uniform Food Laws", by W.T. Jones, of New Orleans; "Penny-Change Systems," by R.W. McCreery, of Marshalltown, Ia; "Traffic and Freight Abuses," by W.E. Tone, of Des Moines; "Transportation Problems," by Carl H. Stoffregen, St. Louis; "Coffee Publicity," by F.H. Henrici, of Chicago; "Coffee Roasters' Costs and Accounting," by F.J. Ach, Chicago. The first convention proved a success, and attracted attention.
The second annual convention, held in New York, November 13–15, 1912, showed that the association had grown to a membership of 135 firms located in all parts of the country, and that its influence had extended throughout the whole trade. Valorization continued to be a much discussed subject. Hermann Sielcken and others again defending it in speeches; but the majority of the association seemed opposed to the scheme. Probably the most important feature of the convention was the report of the committee of nine men who had visited Brazil to investigate conditions there and to interest the Brazilian coffee growers in an advertising campaign. An address on this subject was made by the editor of The Tea and Coffee Trade Journal, in which he suggested a plan for propaganda and advocated scientific research to find out the truth about coffee.
The election of officers resulted in the selection of F.J. Ach, Dayton, as president; Frank R. Seelye, Chicago, first vice-president; Ross W. Weir, New York, second vice-president; and Robert Meyer, St. Louis, treasurer.
The 1912 convention changed the name of the association to the National Coffee Roasters Association, dropping the words "Traffic and Pure Food" from the original title.
The third convention, which was held November 12–14, 1913, in Cincinnati, demonstrated that the scope of usefulness of the association was still growing, as shown by the resolutions which approved better coffee-making publicity; favored a national coffee day; urged the appointment of inspectors at ports of entry to prevent the importation of green coffee under government standard No. 8; condemned the excessive watering of coffee and all coffee coatings; and provided for the appointment of an agent to visit Brazil to furnish members with "reliable" reports on crop flowering.
F.J. Ach was re-elected president; Ross W. Weir succeeded F.R. Seelye as first vice-president; W.T. Jones succeeded Mr. Weir as second vice-president, and Robert Meyer was retained as treasurer.
Secretary G.W. Toms, who had been appointed in April, 1913, reported that the association had made a net gain of thirteen members, bringing the total up to 144.
The membership of the association had been increased by twenty names when the fourth annual convention was opened in New Orleans, November 16–19, 1914, making the total 164.
Better coffee making, roasting economies, a national coffee week, and improved methods of handling green coffee in ports and warehouses, were the principal topics considered at the 1914 meeting. As a result of the discussions, the association went on record in its resolutions as being against the misbranding of both green and roasted coffee; favored the creation of a United States board of coffee experts; and the establishment of an association trade-mark bureau.
For the ensuing year Ross W. Weir, New York, was chosen president; J.O. Cheek, Nashville, first vice-president; T.F. Halligan, Davenport, second vice-president; and W.T. Morley, Worcester, treasurer.
The decision to get together on a comprehensive national publicity campaign in the interest of coffee was the outstanding feature of the fifth annual convention, which was held in St. Louis, November 8–11, 1915, in the same room in the Planters Hotel in which the association was organized in 1911. From a body of twenty-six roasters, the association had grown in five years to a membership of 201 firms and individuals.
Among the more important things done at this convention was the decision to undertake a practical publicity plan to advertise coffee; the adoption of a uniform cost-and-freight contract; the proposal to prepare educational matter on coffee for the schools; and the recommendation to employ a chemist to carry on research work. There were spirited discussions also on gas, coal, and coke as roasting fuels; on the best way to get retailer co-operation, and whether it was advisable to continue the national coffee week idea. President Weir, Vice-Presidents Cheek and Halligan, and Treasurer Morley were re-elected.
The sixth annual convention, held in Atlantic City, November 14–17, 1916, placed emphasis on research into grinding and brewing; on plans for doing something practical to help grocers regain their lost coffee trade; and on an investigation into the scientific costs of roasting. The admittance of green coffee and allied interests into the association was also discussed, and it was resolved to make the subject an order of business for special consideration at the next convention.
At this meeting Frank R. Seelye, Chicago, was elected president; Ben C. Casanas, New Orleans, first vice-president; J.M. McFadden, Dubuque, second vice-president; and M.H. Gasser, Toledo, treasurer. The membership was reported as being 204, showing a net increase of three during the year.
The seventh convention, held in Chicago, November 14–15, 1917, came when the first movement of American soldiers to European battlefields was begun, and patriotism was the keynote of the meeting. Because of the stress of the times, the program was cut to two days, instead of the three days of former meetings.
The outstanding features of the convention were: the decision not to admit green coffee men to the association; the decision to establish a permanent headquarters; the announcement that Brazil was then collecting funds for its part in the national advertising campaign; and the proposal by John E. King, Detroit, that the term "lead number" be used instead of "caffetannic acid", which he asserted was a misnomer. The executive committee was authorized to employ a secretary-manager. The shorter terms and credits idea was endorsed by the association.
These officers were elected for the next year; Ben C. Casanas, New Orleans, president; S.H. Holstad, Minneapolis, first vice-president; Edward Aborn, New York, second vice-president; M.H. Gasser, Toledo, treasurer.
The influenza epidemic, which swept the country the latter part of 1918, caused the postponement of many business and public gatherings, and the eighth annual roasters convention did not assemble until December 5–6, in Cleveland—at only ten days' notice. Unlike previous occasions, this was in reality a combined convention of all roasted and green coffee men in the trade, both association members and non-members. No regular program was followed, the meeting being somewhat in the character of a trade conference.
The salient features of the convention were the decisions: to double the annual dues, in order to provide for a paid secretary-manager and to establish permanent headquarters; to organize a spice grinders' section; and to ask the government to remove all restrictions on coffee trading. The Food Administration's coffee regulations came in for severe criticism.
The election of officers resulted in Carl W. Brand, Cleveland, becoming president; Robert M. Forbes, St. Louis, first vice-president; J.A. Folger, San Francisco, second vice-president; and Lewis Sherman, Milwaukee, treasurer.
The ninth convention of the National Coffee Roasters Association was of greater import to all branches of the coffee trade than any that had preceded it. The results of the meeting showed the association had gone far since the organization meeting in St. Louis in 1911. As in 1916, the convention was held in Atlantic City, November 12–14, 1919, and drew delegates from as far west as San Francisco and Seattle.
The most important subjects before the meeting were the reports of the Joint Coffee Trade Publicity Committee, read by Ross W. Weir, chairman, and Felix Coste, secretary-manager. The committee had been organized during the year to carry on the national coffee-advertising campaign, and announced at the convention its publicity plans for the next year, which included a national coffee week, a national showing of the committee's coffee film, and the issuance of several educational booklets. Other outstanding features included the description of how the association planned to conduct a research into the cost of doing a wholesale coffee-roasting business, the investigation to be made by Columbia University; addresses attacking the meat packers' invasion of the coffee roasting and distributing field; a paper, and discussions, on shorter terms and uniform discounts; the recommendation to employ a traveling field secretary who would hold periodical meetings with local branches; and the condemnation of guaranteeing prices against decline and giving advance notices of changes of prices.
The convention unanimously agreed to the re-election of President Brand, Vice-Presidents Forbes and Folger, and Treasurer Sherman.
The tenth annual meeting was held in St. Louis, November 10–12, 1920. Scientific cost finding, short terms and discounts, the national advertising campaign, the activities of the N.C.R.A. freight-forwarding bureau, and laboratory-research were the main topics of this years' gathering. The membership was reported to be 310. A feature of the meeting was the first industrial exhibit by twenty-five supply houses. Among the things accomplished were:
The recommendation that members co-operate in determining the invisible supply of coffee in the United States at stated periods; increasing annual dues from $50 to $60 for members having $50,000 or less capitalization, and from $100 to $120 for firms having more than $50,000 capital; restricting membership to purely wholesale coffee roasters and distributers; and offering co-operation to hotel-men and restaurant-keepers in standardizing and improving their coffee beverages.
The St. Louis meeting was notable in violating association precedent by unanimously electing Carl W. Brand president for the third consecutive term. Other officers were: J.A. Folger, San Francisco, first vice-president, R.O. Miller, Chicago, second vice-president; Charles A. Clark, Milwaukee, treasurer.
The eleventh annual meeting, held in New York, November 1–3, 1921, set the high-water mark of the organization's record of achievement. This convention took the first definite steps toward the amalgamation of the green and roasted coffee interests in one association. Brazil sent a delegation of coffee men to invite a similar delegation to pay a return visit to Brazil. It was announced also that São Paulo was about to double its tax contribution to the national advertising campaign. Among other things done, were: the appropriation of $1500 to work out a uniform cost-accounting system for roasters; the recommendation that coffee importers insist upon the use of American ships by Brazilian exporters; the formulation of a cost-and-freight arbitration contract for use with São Paulo exporters; the formation of a new membership class roasting up to 6000 bags a year; and the decision to make a national campaign to put the selling of coffee on a uniform thirty-days credit, two percent cash in ten days basis. Professor S.C. Prescott, reporting on the research work being done at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said a better brew of coffee could be obtained at a temperature of 185 degrees than at the boiling point; that glass, china, or enameled-ware pots were to be preferred, and that the filtration method is superior to that employed in the pumping percolator.
The Industrial Exposition included displays by twenty-eight manufacturers of machinery and supplies, and was voted a success. Many of the exhibits were of a distinctly educational character.
The following officers were elected for 1921–22: President, Joel O. Cheek, Nashville, Tenn.; first vice-president, Webster Jones, San Francisco; second vice-president, Joseph E. Maury, Memphis, Tenn.; treasurer, Frank Ennis, Kansas City.
As might be expected, considering the leading place that New York holds as a port of entry for coffee, the roasting and grinding of coffee is more important in the eastern section of the country than in any other. But there are many establishments for preparing coffee scattered throughout the south and the middle west, and the business has grown to considerable proportions on the Pacific coast. New York state leads in number of establishments and is followed by Pennsylvania, California, Missouri, Ohio, and Illinois. The chief southern state is Texas, followed by Louisiana and Kentucky, although Maryland and Louisiana lead in value of product. Missouri has more plants than any other state in the middle west, and is followed by Illinois, though the capital invested and the value of the output are much greater in the latter than in the former.
The distribution of the business of preparing coffee is shown by the figures of the Census Bureau, which reports for 1914 a total of 696 establishments under the designation "Coffee and spice, roasting and grinding." It was found to be necessary to adopt this classification inasmuch as most establishments handle both coffee and spices. Of the 696, however, 658 had coffee as their principal product, and the figures may thus be taken as indicating fairly well the general distribution of the coffee-manufacturing industry. These figures, for the various states, are shown on page 515.
Preliminary figures for the 1919 census show that the value of the product almost doubled in the five years 1914–19, amounting to $304,740,000 in 1919, while the number of establishments increased from 696 to 794, of which 769 specialize in coffee.