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Saturday, October 18, 2014


Pat and Denney Willis brought back Arbuckles Ariosa Coffee
Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series written in a coffee centric stream of consciousness about coffee, coffee bars and restaurants we’ve visited and enjoyed. 

In the past five years, we’ve purchased three pounds of Arbuckle’s Ariosa brand coffee at the Hubbell Trading Post in Ganado, AZ.  That’s one pound per visit.  Yes, we could purchase online or other retailers in the West, but for us Hubbell’s and Arbuckle’s will be forever linked.

Hubbell Trading Post in 2014 located just outside of Ganado, AZ
As U.S. Historic Site Ranger Roderic Roggier gave us a tour of the home of John Lorenzo Hubbell (1853-1930), founder of the trading post, we learned the Hubbell Trading Post (now a National Historic Site) is said to be the oldest continuously operating trading post in the Arizona Navajo nation. 

Except for changes in stoves, products and ice cream cooler, the Hubbell Trading Post bullpen (trading area) remains much the same as when it opened in the 1870s
Located 55 miles northwest of Gallup NM, has not changed much since its opening in 1876.  The main trading area (the bullpen) is where the population surrounding the trading post would arrive and traded their blankets, wool, sheep, pelts, jewelry (turquoise and silver) for groceries, tobacco, tools, cloth and other items like Arbuckle’s Coffee.  At one time, Hubbell and/or his two sons operated 30 trading posts in Arizona, New Mexico and California.

This summer we bought our pound of Arbuckles Ariosa right off the bullpen counter.

Later, we learned Pennsylvania born brothers John and Charles Arbuckle founded Arbuckles Coffee soon after the Civil War.  By 1880s, the company was thriving in Brooklyn, New York.  

The brothers initiated many new concepts in the coffee industry, including inventing a machine that roasted, ground and packaged coffee into one pound bags for mass distribution. Until that time, coffee was sold in bulk (green beans) and had to be roasted in a skillet over a fire or in a wood stove. 

Arbuckles Coffee became a commercial success. It was soon shipped around the U.S., especially throughout the West.  Store lore has it Arbuckles Ariosa Blend became so popular in the Old West that most cowboys didn't even know that there was any other.  Arbuckles Coffee was prominent in such infamous cow towns as Dodge City and Tombstone.  To many of the older cowboys, Arbuckles Ariosa Blend is still known as the Original Cowboy Coffee.  Anytime a cowpuncher brewed a cup of java, the "Arbuckle Cafe" was open for business. Rain or shine, both friend and stranger were welcome to a hot steaming cup of coffee and a good story or two. Arbuckle's was the preferred drink of the range, and many a cowboy warmed himself with buckaroo brew before a long night to guard the doggies.

The Arbuckle Brothers company was broken up by the family in the late 1930’s and the only brand they produced that survived was Yuban.

In 1974, Pat and Denney Willis were concerned with the inconsistent quality of coffee they were forced to serve in their restaurants.  Instead of dealing with numerous coffee services that could only offer high prices and poor quality, they created their own coffee company.  They began their company with a super-salesman named Ken Arbuckle.  Ken claimed to be a descendant of the famous Arbuckle Brothers.   Pat and Denney knew that they could promise a consistently good cup of coffee, better than the competition; just what the Arbuckle Brothers had promised and fulfilled over 100 years earlier.   Arbuckles’ Ariosa blend Coffee was reborn.

Today, Arbuckles’ operates out of a 7,000 sq ft. facility in Tucson, Arizona. 

John Arbuckle’s hand written notes, before his death in 1914, show he was trying to create a roasting method that suspended the coffee bean in air to avoid scorching from the hot metal roasting drum.  It was not until the mid 1970’s that Michael Sivetz patented a workable hot air roaster. 

Arbuckles’ coffees are roasted in this small, hand-tended, state of the art, fluid bed air roaster.  This hands-on attention to roasting and continuous tasting of the finished product creates the ultimate cup of coffee.   Arbuckles’ has added its own touch to this by eliminating the water cooling system and replacing it with Air Cooling to avoid the coffee from absorbing the water and starting the staling process. 

Arbuckles’ Coffee has become the first USDA Certified Organic coffee roaster in the state of Arizona as well as becoming the first TransFair, Fair Trade coffee roaster which gives the coffee farmer a fair and stable price to count on each crop year.

So brew up a pot of Arbuckles’ partner and enjoy the Sunrise!

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