Glimpses of Greenville: Greenville’s first espresso connoisseur?

James A. Bull started his grocery profession as a teenage clerk and shortly began his first small enterprise on Espresso Avenue within the early Eighteen Nineties. In 1897, he moved to a bigger constructing on the nook of North Important and West North to start out up JA Bull & Co. He shortly established a stellar status on the town for his trustworthy enterprise relationships and for promoting high-quality merchandise at one of the best costs. Among the many myriad merchandise offered in his retailer, espresso was maybe Bull’s best ardour and specialty.

In 1901, Bull revealed certainly one of his earliest commercials in The Greenville Information with the headline, “Espresso, Our Specialty.”

1901 Greenville Information commercial by JA Bull & Co. declare to locals that for folks wanting espresso, they’re town’s specialists. Photograph courtesy of the writer, John Nolan.

He informs locals that, “we’ve got studied it [coffee] for years, we all know the best way to purchase, the best way to maintain it after it involves the shop, and that has extra to do with espresso than you’d assume. We promote pretty much as good espresso as is grown, we all know what good espresso is and would promote no different type; we expect an excessive amount of of our commerce.”

The three varieties of espresso they offered had been the “Seal” Brank Mocha and Java superior mix at 40 cents per pound, the “JAB No.1” espresso at 25 cents per pound, and the “Well-liked” Mix at 14 cents per pound. At this early stage, Bull didn’t roast the beans he offered however served as the only real agent in charge of Chase & Sanborn’s coffees for town of Greenville. Right now, Chase & Sanborn was firmly certainly one of America’s largest espresso powerhouses.

By the following decade, Bull & Co. was shopping for inexperienced espresso beans from “the biggest importer in the US” and roasting them contemporary every single day in one of many “finest espresso roasters which were invented.” The corporate additionally revealed common commercials in The Greenville Information with academic insights into finest practices within the trade, buying espresso, and making it at residence. One advert warns, “When roasted espresso travels from 5 to 6 hundred miles in a unclean freight automotive it not solely loses its aroma however is apt to be filthy … you shouldn’t be caught with a bit of sugar. The previous sport that the so-called chain shops and low scavengers have performed on the general public was to provide them sugars at value and sting you on espresso. They’d offer you a bag of sugar at value then overcharge you about 10 cents a pound on espresso … this sport was performed a very long time within the North and is now being performed within the South.”

1903 Greenville Information commercial by JA Bull & Co. telling about their imported espresso beans by Chase & Sanborn. Photograph courtesy of the writer, John Nolan.

By 1918, Bull’s grocery enterprise had gross sales of $500,000 (the equal of $9.5 million in 2022). As time went on, Bull & Co.’s prominence within the metropolis’s coffee-roasting scene could be eclipsed by Lipscomb & Russell within the subsequent decade. Espresso Avenue was the beginning of Bull’s grocery retailer and subsequent coffee-roasting profession. Within the early Nineties, it could additionally turn out to be the origin of Greenville’s trendy coffee-culture scene with town’s pioneering espresso homes.

John M. Nolan is proprietor of Greenville Historical past Excursions ( and writer of “A Information to Historic Greenville, SC” and “Misplaced Eating places of Greenville, SC.”

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