White Coffee

Improving the coffee experience with ecofriendly cups and private-label partnerships
Written by: 
Molly Shaw
Produced by: 
Ryan Fecteau

Having been in business for 76 years, White Coffee transforms a daily ritual into something truly special. While focused on consistency, White Coffee takes the average cup of joe to the next level through distinct flavor profiles, specifically selected beans, fun and trusted brand names and now even a biodegradable single-cup coffee customers can feel good about brewing up.

“We view success as something that requires constant improvement,” says Jonathan White, executive vice president of White Coffee. “Our team is constantly thinking about improving the customer experience.”

This mission started in 1939 with Jonathan’s grandfather, David White. “My grandfather worked in food distribution in the early 1930s,” recalls Jonathan. “He eventually gravitated toward the coffee business. The company has remained in the hands of our family with Carole White, my mother and president of White Coffee, and Gregory White, my brother and vice president.”

The third-generation family business has grown rapidly since its humble beginnings. Although he’s now been with White Coffee for the better part of 25 years, Jonathan didn’t join the family business right off the bat. “My brother and I actually went to law school,” he says. “After several years practicing law, we came to join the business.”

Today, along with their mother, Jonathan and Gregory head up White Coffee as the company reaches goals and sales targets it only dreamed of starting out. What started as working with independent chains has evolved to national-scale customers in the grocery and food service sectors.

White Coffee manufacturers a proprietary brand of ground and whole-bean coffee in more than 140 flavored, non-flavored, organic, decaffeinated and single-origin coffee offerings. Based in Long Island City, White Coffee currently has 105 employees and is capable of shipping to nationwide and international customers.

“We’re selling our products into Canada, Mexico and the Far East,” adds Jonathan. “We also work with national food service accounts through the Royal Cup system and create private label programs for major coffee and broad-line distributors, catalog companies and regional chains. We’ve increased our private-label distributor business significantly in the last several years.”

Branded partners

White Coffee continues to grow its relationships with recognized brands in the food and beverage industry, including major names such as Kahlua, Entenmann’s, First Colony, Hell’s Kitchen, Emeril and now the Marvel brand. “We’ve teamed up with Marvel to develop packaging and products that will coincide with all of the new movies coming out,” says Jonathan. “For example, there’s an Avengers hot chocolate line and four coffees that compliment that.”

Another customer favorite has been the beloved Entenmann’s brand. “We’ve released a number of seasonal flavors in single-serve K-cup portions with Entenmann’s,” says Jonathan. “Flavors such as pumpkin spice, peppermint mocha, caramel apple, chestnut praline, coconut cream and party cake have all been widely successful. Customers love the Entenmann’s brand, the packaging speaks to the core brand and the flavors are terrific. Currently these new products are in more than 1,000 different stores.”

But Jonathan says before any new flavor profile or product makes the cut, his team gathers to do a cupping test. “We have a cupping at least once a day,” he says. “This is a product ritual where we test the product to ensure it’s of high quality. We do objective and sensory evaluations and we’ll do it over and over again to know that the product holds up.”

A big opportunity in the BioCup

Business is certainly moving at a strong pace for White Coffee; sales are up and licensing opportunities continue to grow, but Jonathan says there’s a particular avenue that’s really sparking success for the company. “Two years ago, we were not involved in K-cup manufacturing at all, now it’s one of the fastest-growing parts of our business,” he says. “It’s no surprise as the National Coffee Association estimates that 1 out of 4 people are consuming single-cup coffee in one format or another every day.”

Not only has White Coffee joined this burgeoning part of the coffee business, the company has released its trademarked BioCup, an environmentally friendly way to enjoy single-cup convenience. “BioCup has been on the market for a little over six months are our sales are projected to double this year over last year,” reveals Jonathan. “We’ve invested in additional equipment to help us increase capacity and allow for additional formats.”

He adds that the BioCup has been tested and verified for biodegradable properties and its environmental footprint by third-party labs. “So far people love this product and we’re making BioCups as fast as we can to meet the demand,” says Jonathan. “This segment is so vibrant and there’s so much potential. It’s nice to grow our sales, but also to do so in a way that supports the environment and consumers’ concerns.”

Jonathan says White Coffee’s success is increasing as a result of constant innovation and progress tracking. “This translates into our company culture, where everyone feels like they’re part of a team that’s moving forward and doing something for the greater good,” he says.

With a revolutionary new product and an eye on consumer preferences, White Coffee continues to reshape and rethink the traditional coffee experience, building on 76 years in business.

Strategic Partnership(s): 
Amherst Label
GCG Risk Management