With appreciation and reverence, we acknowledge the past;
with excitement and optimism, we work towards the future.
Royal Cup Coffee enjoys over a century of success & achievements
Our long standing reputation as a quality roaster.
Like most great stories, ours has a humble beginning. In 1896, Henry T. Batterton made rounds in Birmingham, Alabama, selling coffee from his horse-drawn wagon. His company, Batterton Coffee Company, served coffee so fresh and flavorful that it was deemed fit for royalty. Because of its high-quality taste, it became known around town as a “royal” cup of coffee. Batterton Coffee Company experienced decades of success and growth, and established itself as a legitimate, thriving business in a small southern city.
It wasn’t until 1950, after William E. Smith purchased Batterton Coffee Company, that the company was renamed Royal Cup Coffee. To this day, the Smith family still owns and manages the business.
Over the past 100 years, Royal Cup Coffee and Tea has grown from its small, hometown roots to become a major importer, roaster and distributor of the world’s finest specialty and premium coffees and teas. Royal Cup’s reach extends throughout the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean, serving customers in the food service, hospitality, office and specialty coffee markets.
Our strong history is a big part of who we are today, but our company’s story still is being written. With appreciation and reverence, we acknowledge the past; with excitement and optimism, we work towards the future. We invite you to join us on this journey and become a part of the Royal Cup story.
The Test of Time
A Company rooted in culture and tradition.
Time is the ultimate test for any company, and since 1896, Royal Cup has been perfecting its craft. Our coffee and tea has come a long way since the beginning, but one thing has never changed: a passion for producing and serving the best coffee and tea. We think Mr. Batterton would be proud.
Rooted in History
A Company rooted in culture and tradition.
Since 1896 Royal Cup has been proud to call Birmingham home. As the company prospered, it outgrew the original building on Second Avenue North and Twenty-Third Street. Batterton Coffee Company, as it was known in those days, moved in 1909 to its new facility on First Avenue North and Twenty-Fourth Street. In this picture taken in the late 1930’s, you can see that facility and the early version of our route distribution fleet.
A Look Back in Time
The History of Royal Cup
Over the past 100 years, Royal Cup has grown from its small, hometown roots to become a major importer, roaster and distributor of premium coffees and teas.
Serving customers in the food service, office and specialty coffee markets, Royal Cup now reaches markets throughout the United States, into Mexico and the Caribbean.
Royal Cup continues as a privately held, family company, a tradition which helps us offer dedicated service with a unique personal touch to each and every one of our customers.
Our long standing reputation as a quality roaster and distributor, coupled with the latest innovations.
The company was founded in this year by Henry T. Batterton as the Batterton Coffee Company in Birmingham, Alabama. Mr. Batterton was the first coffee roaster in the state of Alabama.
The company outgrew its original building and moved to a new facility on 1st avenue north and 24th street in downtown Birmingham.
During the years of the Great Depression, the company did well due to the fact that public viewed coffee as an essential commodity.
Mr. Batterton and his wife were killed in an automobile accident, and the bank took over control of the company.
During World War II, coffee became scarce and had to be rationed. Instead of allocating it’s supply carefully to all its customers, Batterton Coffee Company sold coffee mainly to several large customers. This hurt the company’s position with many of the neighborhood grocers who had been left without coffee.
In this year, a group of investors lead by William E. Smith of Birmingham purchased the coffee company from Mr. Batterton’s estate, and the company’s name was changed to Royal Cup, Inc. During the 1950’s a concentrated effort was made to win back the friendships and business of the neighborhood grocers lost during the war years.
The first route devoted solely to hotels and restaurants was established.
In this year, William E. Smith was diagnosed with cancer and passed away within 6 months. It was at this time that his eldest son, William E. Smith, Jr., left his employment at General Mills to take over as Vice President and General Manager of Royal Cup Coffee. He was 25 years old at the time.
Royal Cup established its first office coffee sales route.
Royal Cup, in collaboration with some close industry friends, established the business cooperative Dine Mor Foods, allowing Royal Cup to serve customer locations across the country.
Royal Cup invited Dine Mor Licensees in adjoining markets to organize Consumers Choice Coffee. Consumers Choice covered the Ohio Valley market and Louisville and Cincinnati area.
Royal Cup, along with other Licensees, started Sunshine Coffee in Orlando, which covered the Florida market.
To support its rapid growth, Royal Cup relocated to it current location just north of Birmingham in the Pinson Valley area.
Royal Cup expanded to the Dallas/Ft. Worth and Houston markets.
Hatton C. V. Smith, William E. Smith, Jr.’s younger brother, assumed responsibility as president of Royal Cup. William E. Smith, Jr. became chairman of the company at that time.
Royal Cup celebrated its 100th anniversary in the fall of 1996. A new logo was introduced that year, as well as the adoption of the unique “lion head” as another symbol of the company.
A new office facility was completed, bringing the Royal Cup corporate campus to its current state.
In this year, Royal Cup continued expanding is west coast route delivery operations by going to California, allowing Royal Cup to serve the best coffee coast to coast.
Royal Cup, in collaboration with leaders in the Office Coffee service market, establishes the Royal Connection Partners to service premier and national office coffee accounts across the country.
Royal Cup parted ways with long-time partner and Licensee, Ronnoco, and expanded its operation to the Midwest. In the same year Royal Cup acquired Consumers Choice Coffee and began independent operations in Kentucky and Ohio Valley markets.
Bill Smith III, oldest son of William E. Smith Jr., becomes CEO of Royal Cup. Hatton C.V. Smith becomes CEO Emeritus of the company at that time.
Royal Cup completes a three-year manufacturing expansion project which included the opening of a new 33,000 sq. ft. facility to improve and automate the storage and movement of beans.
Royal Cup completed the acquisition of Icebox Coffee to begin liquid manufacturing internally.
Awards & Recognitions
We are honored and humbled to receive these awards and recognitions.
- Commercial Conservation Award - Alabama Environmental Council - 2016
- Outstanding Business - Champions of Sustainability - 2016
- Vendor of the Year - Texas Roadhouse - 2013, 2016
- Vendor of the Year - Bruegger’s Bagels - 2013
- Vendor of the Year - AmericInn Hotels and Suites - 2013
- Roar Single Serve Coffee System, Innovation Award Winner, Beverage Category - National Automatic Merchandising Association - 2013
- Vendor of the Year - Another Broken Egg Cafe - 2016
- North American Tea Championship 2016 - Ibis Moon Mango Breeze - 1st Place in Flavored Tea Category
- North American Tea Championship 2016 - Ibis Moon - 1 st Place Unflavored/Unsweetened Tea Category
- Vendor of the Year - Sodexo - 2013
- H.C. Valentine Given “Award of Excellence” in 4 Product Lines - American Masters of Taste, Chefs in American Awards Foundation - 2012
- EspresShip Video, Best Sales Video (National) - American Advertising Federation - 2012
- Birmingham Business Hall of Fame – William E. Smith Jr. & Hatton C.V. Smith Kiwanis Club of Birmingham – 2016
- Manufacturing Innovation of the Year Award Pro Food World – 2019
- Royal Cup Signature Iced Tea Launch Best Brand Identity Campaign, Best Sales Kit & Best Packaging Campaign Alabama Advertising Federation – 2019
- ROAR Brand Video, Best Video Sales Presentation Alabama Advertising Federation – 2019
- Total Dedication Award - Anthony Slater - National Accounts Choice Hotels - 2019
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