Ellis Coffee’s history of innovation dates back to the iconic giant coffee pot that John Ellis commissioned atop his roastery at 9 South 16th Street.
Over two stories tall and constructed of reinforced concrete, terra cotta and covered in chromium plates, this pot was visible from miles away. Long before the 21st-century consumer fascination with coffee aromatics and sensory evaluation, Philadelphians were drawn to our then-flagship location by the steam and smoke generated from roasting and delivered through an ingenious system of pipes up through the coffee pot’s huge spout.
Founded in 1854 as a small shop on Philadelphia’s waterfront, Ellis Coffee has grown its business by recognizing and addressing customer needs and evolving market opportunities. As a family-owned and -operated full-service roaster now led by fourth-generation President Adam Kestenbaum, Ellis’s commitment to quality—our motto “Quality Chief Consideration” dates to the 19th century—and best-in-class customer service has kept our thousands of business customers on-trend with their coffee programs.
Investing in innovation, staying true to our motto: “Quality chief consideration”
Before “fresh” became the consumer mandate it is today, Ellis was among the first roasters to nitrogen flush its packaged coffees back in the 1970s to conserve the flavor and aromatics by purging oxygen from the bag. Subsequent major investments in an array of packaging initiatives included: our single-serve coffee “E-cup” machine with robotic packing; our versatile filter pack machine; flavoring equipment; and our proprietary, scalable system for hand-packing 12 oz. bags. All these initiatives reflect our ongoing commitment to offer the high-quality innovation that today’s consumers expect. Looking further ahead, we are constantly evaluating different “E-cup” packaging materials to ensure that this product’s tremendous success is sustainable.
While hand-crafted is the hallmark of any artisan coffee these days, getting raw beans from burlap bags to where our master roasters can ply their craft has also required fresh thinking. Several years ago, we invested in machinery that automatically sorts, conveys and blends to precise recipes, reinforcing our commitment to quality and freeing our master roasters’ hands to indulge in the craft customers crave.
Ellis delivers “an extraordinary coffee experience”
Coffee is no longer just about freshness and production, it is also about an interactive guest experience. At Ellis, we support our clients with coffee-centric equipment designed to engage and inspire their consumers. Our handcrafted, custom-made trike delights customers with our rich, nitro-infused cold brew coffee served from a tap. We might also inspire coffee drinkers with digital coffee art, printing high-resolution logos or selfies right on their drink using coffee extract and the microfoam canvas a well-crafted cappuccino provides.
Philadelphia roots, community commitment
We are thrilled to see coffee roasting returning to its roots as a local business, and for 164 years we have been proud to call Philadelphia our home. Our long-term commitment to the city continues to generate fresh opportunities to partner with local organizations that have meaningful impacts on Philadelphians’ lives. Whether supporting Riverfront North’s 11-mile greenway reclamation project along the Delaware River, sponsoring Bridesburg neighborhood youth organizations, engaging middle school students for their prize-winning “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing” video project, or training future business leaders from St. Joseph’s University’s renowned food marketing program, we are inspired to match fresh ideas with fresh faces in Philadelphia.
At Ellis Coffee, as proud as we are about our rich heritage, we get even more excited about the opportunities to help shape Philadelphia’s future.