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100 Years of Coffee with Dallis Bros.

Tuesday Jan 15, 2013

You might think that the modern coffee craze began in 1971 with the opening of the first Starbucks in Seattle, Wash. Scroll back the clock a bit further and you will discover the real forerunner of our caffeine-crazed coffee culture: Dallis Bros. Coffee.

It was 1913 when brothers Abe and Morris Dallis began packing their premium beans and selling door-to-door via horse-drawn wagon. A New York story through and through, the company has grown into one of the quiet leaders of the coffee industry, setting the trend for coffee drinking throughout the century and continuing their commitment to sustainable culture.

An American Tradition

Tour Dallis’ roasting plant in Ozone Park, Queens and you’ll find that the smell of coffee emanates not only from the many high-tech gadgets and machines lining the showroom space, but also from the very walls and bricks that have seen so many millions of pounds of coffee processed in the factory.

Though the company was acquired in 2007 by Octavio Specialty Coffees, a Brazilian farm and coffee company, the vibrant Dallis Bros. history has been kept alive, preserving the heart and tenacity of this homegrown story.

What first began as deliveries on horse-drawn carriage eventually evolved to distribution by the famous Ford Model T. The company kept pace with the evolving industrial revolution and volatile world stage during two world wars. Many of the first roasters and grinders are still intact and used in operation.

Later, Dallis Bros. pioneered flavored coffees, keeping in sync with America’s slowly expanding palette. From being one of the very first to foray into the market of specialty and directly traded coffees in the late 80s to becoming the original roaster for such notable coffeehouses as Ninth Street Espresso, Dallis Bros. Coffee has continually established themselves as a leader in coffee trends, not only in New York, but also across the globe.

Roasting the Best Beans

The quest for the finest coffee starts with green beans shipped from farms around the world: Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ethiopia, Honduras, Kenya, Papua New Guinea, Sumatra and Tanzania, as well as their own farm in Brazil. Careful profiling of green beans determine any inconsistencies that may occur during farming or transit, ensuring that any beans that could go into testing be the best beans from those already prestigious farms.

The best beans are analyzed for flavor notes that help determine the roasting method, which vary from long and slow to quick and high-heat, just like cooking a steak. The result accentuates the most desirable flavor profiles possible from any selection of beans-something that requires extremely careful control and advanced knowledge-and brings out twice as many aromatics as found in a quality glass of wine.

Dallis Bros. has even embarked upon cutting-edge packing to enhance and preserve their coffee’s flavors. Many companies age their beans to reduce their natural CO2 emission or pack them in simple paper bags, which doesn’t protect the coffee from getting stale fast. Dallis Bros. developed packaging with a heavy-gauge packaging film, nitrogen influxing and special one-way valves that allow flavor and aroma to stay trapped and preserved inside while CO2 slowly leaks out without causing the bags to balloon or explode.

Beyond the bean, Dallis Bros. has instituted a training center, an educational facility within their Ozone Park headquarters. There, aficionados can gather with the Dallis Bros. experts for cuppings (coffee taste tests), seminars, tours and hands-on classes.

As Dallis Bros. enters into a next 100 years, they continue to pave the road for coffee culture through their unique New York viewpoint, embarking on a new era - one worth a second cup.


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