John and Charles Arbuckle came to Brooklyn from Pittsburgh and built the largest coffee company in the United States. By the early years of the 20th century, their operation in Dumbo received, stored, roasted and packaged more coffee than any other company in America.
Their signature brand, Ariosa, was packaged in small, one-pound, branded packages of freshly ground coffee. It was sold everywhere in the country.
Ariosa was nicknamed the “cowboy’s coffee,” as it was the brand of choice for cowhands on the range. The iconic cowboy campfires with the coffeepot on the fire, later copied into movie and television legend? They were drinking Arbuckle Ariosa.
Arbuckle’s success lay in the roasting process. John Arbuckle invented most of the company’s innovative methods and machines, then wisely patented them, further adding to the company’s revenues.
His first invention was a process using eggs and sugar in a glaze that coated the raw beans, sealing in the flavor. His patented roasting machines took care of the rest.
Brooklyn, one building at a time.
This grand mansion was built for Coffee King John Arbuckle. It was one of architect Montrose W. Morris’s first large mansion commissions.
Name: John Arbuckle House, now condominiums
Address: 315 Clinton Avenue
Cross Streets: DeKalb and Lafayette avenues
Neighborhood: Clinton Hill
Year Built: 1888
Architectural Style: Romanesque revival
Architect: Montrose W. Morris
Other Works by Architect: Nearby houses/apartment buildings at 184-188 Clinton Avenue, 282-290 and 185-189 DeKalb Avenue, 515 Clinton Avenue, Roanoke Apartments and 24-26 South Oxford Street in Fort Greene. Many other buildings in Bedford Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, Park Slope and Brooklyn Heights.
Landmarked: Yes, part of Clinton Hill Historic District (1981)
John Arbuckle’s immense fortune came from the coffee business. He was a perfect client for the young Montrose W. Morris, who was just beginning to get those lucrative commissions from his desired demographic: rich people.
Brownstoner’s recent Walkabout columns have been about Mr. Arbuckle and his coffee business. As noted in this last chapter, Arbuckle moved to New York in 1871, opening an outpost of his Pittsburgh-based coffee and wholesale grocery business, Arbuckle & Co.
Coffee came to America as early as the late 1600s. By the mid-19th century, Manhattan was the green coffee capital of America, home to dozens of wholesale coffee brokers and coffee roasters.
Soon after the Civil War, the beans spilled across the river into Brooklyn, due to this city’s huge capacity for storage and processing. Brooklyn’s vast waterfront piers became the landing place for the coffees of the world.
Brooklyn’s largest coffee company belonged to brothers John and Charles Arbuckle, originally from Pittsburgh. They also left us several great additions to Brooklyn’s architectural legacy.