LONG ISLAND CITY, N.Y., U.S. — Founder David White’s interest in food and beverage distribution came at a tumultuous time in U.S. history. It was 1939, and Americans were still suffering through the Great Depression.
At that time, coffee’s appeal was primarily for its stimulating effect. The depression years had elevated coffee to a necessity for enduring long hours of work at low pay—if one could find work. By the late 1930s, coffee had become so entrenched as one of the few affordable, simple pleasures…that employers were increasingly providing coffee breaks for their employees. 1
Eighty years ago, the White family starting selling coffee to businesses—for patrons and employees alike. In recognition of the family’s success and longevity, the company is announcing its anniversary “Fourscore Blend.” The specialty, medium roast blend will be introduced later this quarter and will be available in retail outlets nationwide.
In 1939, David White operated through a partnership, selling White-Kobrick coffee targeted to office supply. When David branched out on his own, his company became White Coffee Corporation. As coffee consumption climbed in the 1950s, success was realized in the office coffee supply business and soon their reputation carried the firm over to foodservice.
In the 1970s, after David’s passing, his son Irwin became president and helped pioneer the gourmet coffee industry. They concentrated on fine Arabica coffees – the highest quality beans available. With his leadership, the family provided educational seminars to customers around the country and at their plant located in the Astoria section of Queens. White Coffee’s focus on “specialty coffee” was out-front of a wave that swept the industry.
The White’s have proven to be industry innovators. During the 1970s, they imported Swiss Water for chemical-free decaffeination. In the 1980s, they expanded into bulk gourmet coffee sales with exotic origins. White Coffee was one of the first companies to use vacuum packaging for extended shelf life.
In the 1990s, under new president Carole White’s direction, packaging offerings expanded with vacuum bricks for gourmet and private label accounts, including varietals and flavored coffees. Carole brought her two sons – Jonathan and Gregory – aboard to manage a larger facility with increased capacity and demand, and consistently improving quality control. They offered organic and produced it in a unique format, “BioCup” which sold over a million single cups in the first month.
“You don’t retain customers across the nation for 10, 15, 20 years or more unless you keep them very satisfied,” says Jonathan White, Executive Vice President. The White’s licensing program of national brands launched with “Kahlúa” in 2009 and quickly led to Entenmann’s® and Jim Beam®, among others. The company has notched numerous awards and accolades including being named one of the top licensees in the world in 2017, and again in 2018, by License Global magazine and a 2018 feature in the Wall Street Journal.