A TASTE of HISTORY
THE GILLIES STORY

Gillies has been championing specialty coffee ideals since clipper ship days.


Martin Van Buren

Martin Van Buren, known as "the Little Magician" for his diminutive stature and astute political ability was the eighth president of the United States when the panic of 1837 punctured the prosperity of the young American republic. Hundreds of banks and businesses failed. Thousands lost their lands. For about five years the United States was wracked by economic depression.

The Gillies family were colonial Scottish immigrants to America, who settled as farmers at Newburgh New York, not far from President Van Buren's own Dutch homestead in Kinderhook, on the other side of the majestic Hudson River. As the financial dislocation settled in as an economic misery on the land the economically stressed Gillies' turned to their son Wright, to travel down river, in the parlance of that day, "to seek his fortune in the city." The event is recorded in All About Coffee (Tea & Coffee Trade Journal Company,1922) Wm. H. Ukers' great coffee reference work, known now as then as "The Coffeeman's Bible."

"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…"

Young Mr. Gillies and his little business prospered, supplying retailers, throughout the land, as far away as New Orleans in 1863. Gillies set the gold standard in American coffee roasting, innovating roasting with natural gas, and holding patents for double-roasting, In the early years of the century just ended, the little house from Washington Street fell on hard times, in part because there were no son’s to carry on the business, and in that age young women were forbidden from, "going into trade."

The Schoenholt family was active in the New York coffee trade, and the Gillies business presented a unique opportunity. Schoenholt expertise, and an abiding interest in continuing the Gillies business presented an opportunity for the Gillies family and their hopes for continuing their coffee heritage into the future. It proved a match well made.

Mac Schoenholt entered the coffee trade around 1912. David L. Schoenholt, who would steer Gillies through mid-century, entered the trade in 1928. Mark Pendergrast wrote in his seminal history Uncommon Grounds (Basic Books, 1999) "Donald Schoenholt grew up with the smells of Mocha & Java." That sentence says it all. Donald learned the trade at his father's knee cupping at 11, and roasting at 14. At 68, his credentials include a lifetime of background in all facets of coffee culture. In 1998 he was honored as international Tea & Coffee Man of the Year. In 1975 Don was joined by his Camp Columbia buddy, Hy Chabbott and together they have directed the fortunes of "America’s oldest coffee merchant" for almost 40 years.

Hy’s son David Chabbott is the newest member of the firm having joined the old house in 2006. David H's responsibilities include both serving existing customers, and new customer development.


Hy Chabbott Literally "Beside Himself"
Honored in the Brooklyn Works Exhibit
at The Brooklyn Historical Society, 2003

An early retailer of specialty coffee, Gillies coffees, teas and kindred products are marketed directly to fine shops coffee specialty businesses and chef restaurateurs throughout the land. An expert at niche marketed specialty coffee products and ideas, Gillies markets Green coffee and expertise to roasting retailers, and Your Own Private Label™ coffees to gift shops, and specialty retailers. Fulfillment services are available to mail-order coffee businesses, and toll services are available to other roasters. Gillies supports retailers with an extraordinary level of expertise, and personal attention along with offering a noteworthy collection of allied products and equipment for the consummate professional coffee business.

Consumers find a home for their coffee and tea cravings on the Gilliescoffee4home.com website where Fresh from the Roaster™ coffees are presented just for them.

Nine generations, 175 years, after our humble beginnings Gillies Coffee Company continues our founder’s aspirations to bring coffees of outstanding cup quality to America’s table. We are grateful that through all these years you have appreciated our efforts.

We are at your service.


GILLIES COFFEE COMPANY
(A New York Corporation)
AMERICA'S OLDEST COFFEE MERCHANT