LION COFFEE HISTORY
What a year to date! Lion Coffee packaging gets a fresh new look for the first time in 40 years. Reaching out to increase availability to Lion Coffee fans on the Mainland, Lion Coffee is proudly offered in Raley’s Stores in Northern California.
We are humbled and grateful to announce that Lion Coffee has roared to number one again. Lion Coffee was voted first place as “Hawaii’s Best 2018” in the coffee category by over 500,000 consumers in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s People’s Choice Awards. This is our fourth 1st place win, and we thank you so much!
Lion Coffee is now available at Pavilions Stores in Southern California. In June, 2017, we were humbled to have won first place as Hawaii’s Best Coffee 2017 in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s People’s Choice Award. This grassroots award is not ours alone. It is because of you and thousands people like you that we can proudly and rightfully claim this award. On behalf of the Lion Coffee team, we thank you for your support. We could not have achieved this recognition without you. Here’s to years more of drinking and enjoying Lion Coffee.
Lion Coffee is now available in Safeway Stores in Northern California.
We are proud to announce that Lion Coffee was chosen “Hawaii’s Best 2015” in the coffee category in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s People’s Choice Awards. We are humbled and grateful for your appreciation and your vote of confidence.
Lion Coffee was chosen “Hawaii’s Best 2014” in the coffee category in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s People’s Choice Awards. We are humbled and grateful for your appreciation and your vote of confidence.
2000’s: More Roar in Every Pour
Based in Honolulu, our 55,000 square-foot facility offers Roastery Tours and is home to The Lion Café and General Store, where seasonal Lion Coffees and retail products are available. Thanks to Lion Fans everywhere, LION Coffee’s cheery bags are shipped to coffee lovers all across America and around the world.
We are now the largest roaster of Kona Coffee in the world, the largest coffee company in Hawaii, and Hawaii’s leading supplier of coffee to the Island’s hotels, restaurants and retail stores.
When you drink Lion Coffee, you’re enjoying over 150 years of experience in every cup. Aloha!
1864: Lion Roars to Life
Lion Coffee is one of the oldest trademarks in the USA, registered in 1864 by the original owner, C.C. Warren of Toledo, Ohio. Warren began roasting coffee in a friend’s barn, but the barn burned down because Mr. Warren lacked roasting experience. Undaunted, he found less flammable housing to “fancy roast” his premium coffee beans and Lion Coffee became one of the first roasted, pre-weighed coffees in America.
1872 – 1890’s
Alvin Mansfield Woolson was a veteran of the Civil War, a Pony Express Station-Master, and owner of The Woolson Spice Company. Woolson purchased Lion Coffee and embarked on turning Lion into a household name and premium coffee brand. He pioneered packing coffee in sealed 1 lb. tin containers, bringing new standards of freshness and quality to the customer. All Lion Coffee came with a guarantee of satisfaction, unprecedented in that era.
Lion Coffee flourished. Woolson began running promotions where consumers could redeem lion heads for whimsical gifts, such as paper dolls, trading cards, educational games, and popular sheet music. So much mail was received in response to the Lion Head promotion that rather than count the pieces, the post office decided to weigh them, creating the first bulk mail in US history.
News of LION Coffee’s quality “cup that cheers” spread quickly. By the mid-1890’s the company roasted a million pounds a week and had become the second largest coffee roaster in the world.
1890 – 1949
Aging and infirm, Alvin Woolson sold Lion Coffee to The American Sugar Co., and a new era began for Lion Coffee. Lion began roasting not only it’s own coffee, but also for other brands such as Chase & Sanborn. Lion Coffee became the second largest coffee roaster in the world. Lion Coffee was a leading brand in homes across America, and to this day, consumers recount seeing Lion Coffee tins in their grandparents’ kitchens.
This was a turbulent era for Lion Coffee. In a highly unusual move, Lion Coffee’s bankers suddenly called their loans to the company. It is believed this action was orchestrated by a competitor. To pay off the loans, Lion Coffee had to be sold for cash. Unlike most bankruptcy sell-offs, all Lion Coffee creditors and shareholders received the full value of their interests in the company. All Lion Coffee roasting equipment was purchased by a major competitor at liquidation prices.
Lion Coffee laid dormant. The only existing items left alive and viable after the liquidation were the trademark and brand name. While technically non-existent, Lion Coffee lived on in the hearts and minds of consumers…
1979: Hawaii Becomes Lion Coffee Country!
Jim Delano, an entrepreneur in Hawaii, was looking for a local supplier of quality coffee when he discovered an old Lion Coffee postcard. A long-time fan of “Americana,” Jim discovered that the rights to the brand and trademark were available. Traveling to Toledo, Ohio, he purchased the rights to Lion Coffee, and picked up all that was left from the Woolson Spice Company, including some stationery, postcards and the trademark, and returned to Hawaii.
In 1979, The LION awoke to discover a new home in the Islands of Aloha and Hawaii officially became LION Coffee Country!
1980: Only the best…
The basement of 222 Merchant Street in Honolulu Hawaii saw a rebirth of not only the Lion Coffee brand, but also the spirit of Lion Coffee. Delano purchased a revolutionary roaster, designed for maximum bean roasting without scorching or breaking the bean. This was a major innovation over the traditional baking roasters coffee companies were using. Delano also bought only the best beans, as he believed that Lion Coffee customers deserves only the best.
1980-1985: A taste of Hawaii
Flavored coffees were in development at Lion, including Kona Macadamia and Chocolate Macadamia. Lion Coffee still holds all rights and patents to these special flavor formulas. Competitors who once scorned the idea of flavored coffee soon followed Lion Coffee’s move. In Dec. 1984, Lion Coffee moved from 222 Merchants Street to 831 Queen Street where there was an abundance of room to grow.
Lion Coffee purchased the most innovative coffee roasting and packaging equipment available. The vacuum packaging machine, the first in Hawaii, packaged “soft packs” with one-of-a-kind air valves. Lion Coffee’s distinctive full-color vacuum bags were introduced to wild acclaim by both customers and coffee industry competitors alike.
1980’s: Lion makes the INC 500… twice!
In 1986, Lion Coffee introduced the now-famous Lion Coffee racks in all major Oahu grocery chain-stores and a new hallmark was established: Outstanding displays, outstanding service, and outstanding product. Lion Coffee quickly took the lead in the specialty coffee industry in Hawaii.
In November 1987, Lion Coffee made the INC. 500 list of fastest growing small companies in America, ranking 229 with a growth rate of 1069%. In December 1988, Lion Coffee moved to 894 Queen Street, providing ample room to grow to meet the ever-increasing demand for the cup that cheers. Lion Coffee’s mail order business re-launched in the 80’s and in 1989, Lion Coffee returned to the INC. 500 list again, ranking as the 447th fastest growing small company in America.
1990’s: Hello, world!
In 1990, Lion Coffee began selling in Guam and Saipan and expanded to Korea and Guam in 1994. In 1995, 222 Merchant Street location opened as our 2nd retail store and café and in 1996, Lion Coffee began working with Paradise Beverages to distribute Lion Coffee throughout the Hawaiian Islands. In 1999, LionCoffee.com went online.
In 2000, Lion Coffee and Royal Kona Coffee formed a partnership to work together and help each other grow. The new family of coffee brands was named Hawaii Coffee Company.