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Founders & Visionaries - May 2011

Six companies with visionaries at the helm.

Founders & Visionaries - May 2011

(page 6 of 6)

     Jim Wayman, President of Hawaii
     Coffee Company performing the morning ritual of tasting different
     batches of coffee to ensure that his customers receive only
     the best quality coffee.

Hawaii Coffee Company

An Overview of 42 Years in Hawaii - by Jim Wayman

Hawaii Coffee Company dates back to 1969 with its Royal Kona Coffee brand and 1979 with its Lion Coffee brand. In June of 2000, Lion Coffee and Royal Kona Coffee merged to form Hawaii’s largest coffee roasting company – the Hawaii Coffee Company.

At the time of the merger, Lion was Hawaii’s leading retail brand and Royal Kona was the largest food service channel brand in Hawaii. The merger created a company with much more versatility and energy coming from a diverse employee group.

Each of these companies brought something interesting and special to the brew. Royal Kona was originally owned by Superior Coffee out of Chicago. They established themselves in Hawaii in 1969 and began selling primarily to the food service channel. You might say that Hawaii’s Kona Coffee industry owes much of its global recognition to Royal Kona – Superior Coffee, because for several years, the company purchased and marketed the ENTIRE Kona coffee crop helping to provide Kona Coffee with an international identity.

Lion Coffee was founded in Toledo, Ohio, in 1864 by the Woolson Spice Company. The company went out of business during the Great Depression. Although out of business, Lion Coffee left behind many interesting marketing materials, including a line of collectables that were offered as gifts with a purchase of coffee.

In the mid 1960s, a young collector named Jim Delano came across some of the Lion collectables and decided to do some research on Lion Coffee. Jim discovered that the Lion Coffee trademark was available for purchase and decided to obtain it and start up a gourmet coffee company. Jim picked Hawaii as the marketplace to start the company because he loved Hawaii and felt its people would be receptive to a high quality gourmet coffee offering. So, in 1979, Jim brought Lion Coffee to Hawaii. Today, Lion holds the distinction of being the oldest brand of coffee in operation west of the Mississippi River.

     (left to right) Lion Coffee, Hawaiian Islands Tea, Royal Kona

Since the merger in June of 2000, both Lion Coffee and Royal Kona Coffee have been manufactured in a 55,000-square-foot state-of-the art coffee roasting plant in Kalihi in the old Libby McNeil Cannery buildings at 1555 Kalani Street. In 2003 the company purchased the Hawaiian Islands Tea Company, which specializes in a line of tropically flavored teas. We currently own and operate the only tea-bagging machine in Hawaii.

Quality and consistency are the cornerstones of our success. We have many scientific quality control checks but it is the final procedure that is my favorite. Every morning at 10:00 a.m., one package from each batch roasted and packaged the previous day is brewed and setup for tasting in our quality control lab. My tasting team and I then get to have a taste of each coffee. These same brews are then available in thermal air pots in our adjacent retail café allowing our visiting customers to be tasters too. We conduct tours of our Kalihi plant every hour from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., so if you have time, why not enjoy a tour while sipping your favorite brew? Groups are welcome. Hope to see you soon!

Hawaii Coffee Company
(800) 338-8353
1555 Kalani Street
Honolulu, HI 96817

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