From Small Town to Big Time: Green Mountain Coffee History

Today, Green Mountain Coffee is one of the biggest names in the bean biz. But did you know it started off as a neighborhood café in a small Vermont town whose population is well below 2,000 residents? Yes, the company’s rise has been meteoric, considering its humble beginnings.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters

Green Mountain Coffee – Waterbury, Vermont

It all started in 1981, when Bob Stiller decided to buy a coffee shop in Waitsfield, Vermont, which was near his ski vacation condo in Sugarbush. Word of the new coffee spread fast, and soon area hotels and restaurants caught on, too, ordering Green Mountain Coffee for their own establishments. Eventually Stiller decided to move away from retail to manufacturing, selling the original café and moving the company headquarters to the more bustling town of Waterbury.

In 1993, Green Mountain Coffee history as we know it really began. That’s the year the company went public, and made an early investment in an emerging company that would later change the face of coffee-making: Keurig Incorporated. This deal started GMC down the path of empire-building. In 2006 it acquired Keurig altogether, and today you can find most of its coffee blends available in the trademark K-cups. It’s the company responsible for making Tully’s Coffee, and its fair-trade coffee is sold under Newman’s Own Organics brand. GMC has also made deals with companies like Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks, who wanted the chance to make their own coffees available for K-cups. Today, the company is one of the most familiar names in the industry, with additional facilities in New York, Massachusetts, Maine, and Connecticut.

While building up its global business plan, GMC also honed its reputation as a company focused on sustainability and community issues. In 2000 it became one of the first big U.S. coffee makers to produce fair-trade coffee. Now it offers a wide selection of certified organic and Fair Trade coffees, and works directly with coffee growers to ensure those standards are met. As for community commitment, according to the GMC website, the company has been donating time, coffee, and money to nonprofits since the very beginning in 1982. Today, it says it donates to more than 1,200 nonprofit organizations, and employees get more than a week of paid workdays to volunteer.

For those looking for a nostalgic look at the original café, alas, it is no longer owned by GMC. But you can still get your fix by visiting the official café in the Waterbury train station, which the company set up in 2006. It’s actually way more than a typical café, with a hands-on, multimedia tour set up, so you can learn everything you never knew you wanted to know about coffee.