100 years as New York’s premier coffee roaster
As a premier roaster and purveyor of fine coffees, Dallis Bros. is the New York original. We have been providing coffees to establishments that set world-renown standards for culinary excellence for 100 years.
In 1913, the year that Grand Central Station opened as the world’s largest train station, Morris and Abe Dallis opened Dallis Bros. Coffee. Based on a storefront on 116th Street, in Ozone Park, the Russian-born Dallis brothers packed their coffee in five-pound paper bags, loaded them into horse-drawn wagons and delivered to customers door-to-door throughout Brooklyn and Queens.
AFTER WORLD WAR I
While their coffees became more and more popular, Morris and Abe invested in a Model T. This technological innovation of the time allowed them to deliver farther out to Long Island, along Jericho and Hempstead Turnpikes and returning via Northern Blvd., the only paved roads. Morris and Abe thrived by loading up their trucks with artisanal coffee and going into long trips throughout New York, selling their product door to door. It was quite an adventure, and it could last quite a few days before one would come back to the factory and start again. Soon, they hired salespeople and the routes expanded.
As the company grew, to ensure their quality standards, in 1926 they invested in their own roastery, moving to our present building on Atlantic Avenue, in Ozone Park, Queens. Here they could roast Colombian and Brazilian beans to their exacting specifications. With the depression, the coffee business became a credit business. Salespeople became distributors and Dallis started grinding and packaging the coffee for them. Soon enough, with tougher times and smaller families, the company started producing 1, 2 and 3 lb bags.
AFTER WORLD WAR II
While much of the Dallis brothers’ business had been delivering house-to-house, the advent of supermarkets and suburban growth after World War II motivated a new, visionary approach: they began supplying more and more restaurants. Dallis’ commitment to quality beans and fine roasting attracted a large and dedicated clientele. Herb Dallis, second generation, came back from war and took the reins of the company.
1980′s TO 2000′s
David Dallis, third generation, joins the Dallis team and thanks to his technological inclination, in a time when most people did not know what a computer was, the 1980′s saw the solidification of Dallis’ customer service backbone with a huge IBM server, which allowed them to automate order processing with hundreds of customers. With the help of his wife Martha, David focused efforts on the growing coffee shop market, which proved to be a very fortunate decision as they were taking the place of restaurants and diners as the top places to drink coffee. David and Herb sourced Faema and Rancilio espresso machines from Italy and built our wholesale training center, after long efforts in the early 1990′s to renovate the facade and front café of our beautiful Victorian-style building.
The late 1980′s and 1990′s were a very exciting period. Dallis set itself as one the nation’s leading specialty coffee roasters, being one of the first companies to source coffees directly from farms in South and Central America and sell them both roasted to cafés and green to other roasters and home enthusiasts. David Dallis served as president of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) from 1994 to 1995, helping the organization promote higher standards in coffee sourcing and brewing and disseminate the now widespread coffee culture. Dallis’s wholesale sales expanded into Washington DC, New Jersey and upstate New York. To keep up with the growth and at the same time maintain the artisanal quality of their coffee, Dallis installed automated packaging systems in the late 1990′s, a brilliant move which allowed them to spend more time tasting coffees, developing roast profiles, quality control and roasting coffees as opposed to weighing, filling and sealing bags.
The 2000′s brought new practices to the coffee industry. Not only did coffee need to taste great but also do good, and now they also had to prove they did good with certifications. Dallis Bros. Coffee was the first company in New York to offer triple-certified coffees and pushed Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trade coffees since their beginning, in line with the company history of sustainability. Certified coffees were a risky bet that put the company in a pricier category than its competitors for a long time, and while it took a few years, it proved to be a winning strategy as people strongly embraced social and environmental responsibility and competitors followed suit. The specialty coffee market exploded in the mid-2000′s, and what used to be a little artisanal coffee roaster in Queens became a regional powerhouse and the leading quality coffee purveyor in New York.
In 2007, Dallis vision of a sustainable coffee supply chain from farm to cup came to life. Octavio Café from Brazil acquired Dallis Bros. Coffee and the company became fully vertically integrated, having a sister coffee farm – Fazenda Nossa Senhora Aparecida. In the years that followed, Dallis Bros. Coffee expanded their wholesale activities to other states, solidified a strong coffee portfolio and completely overhauled their coffee roasting and production systems in order to perfect even further the quality of their coffees.
In 2013, the Dallis Bros. Coffee operation was acquired by Lacas Coffee Company in a strategical move for Dallis to continue expanding. The merger got us a much upgraded roastery and more resources to continue developing meaningful relationships with farms, push further the artisan/technological boundaries in roasting and allow us to better train and support the growing number of coffee shop partners that brew our coffees.
Today, we look back and see a century’s worth of very rich history and a very strong vision of craftsmanship and uncompromising quality in coffee production. We have an unwavering devotion to the standards that Morris and Abe set from the very beginning. Our longstanding market presence allowed us to develop solid relationships with leading coffee farms around the world, and we leverage these relationships to get the best coffees possible for you. As has always been, every coffee we offer is a result of a very lengthy purveying process and is cupped several times before getting the approval stamp to be able to make it to your home. Our majestic roasters transform green coffees from farms from all over the world into specialty roasts second to none. Every day we challenge ourselves to not only live up to the legendary level of excellence that the Dallis brothers set, but to raise the bar with ever finer coffees, more advanced equipment and more attentive customer service.
Every once in a while, we’ll dig deeper into specific parts of our history in our blog. Stay tuned and enjoy your coffee!