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Make yourself comfortable; we're about to tell you a story that spans centuries, brimming with emotion and passion: the saga of the Gillies family.

Let us travel back to 1837, a challenging era marked by economic depression during Martin Van Buren's presidency. In the quiet town of Newburgh, New York, the Gillies family, originally from Scotland, persevered through these tough times. To combat these challenges, they turned to their son, young Wright, entrusting him with a bold mission: "Go down the river," an old-time expression meaning to seek fortune in the city. Picture nineteen-year-old Wright embarking on this daunting journey. In 1838, he secured a job as a clerk in a tea store on Chatham Street. Imagine the scent of tea leaves as Wright Gillies first walked through the doors of the store, now known as Chambers and Duane Street. Savor the warm ambiance where he took his initial steps into the world of commerce, marking the beginning of an enthralling saga that would shape the Gillies' destiny.

After accruing invaluable experience, Wright ventured into the tea and coffee business. In 1840, he laid the foundation of his own empire at 232 Washington Street. Three years later, he expanded by acquiring 236 Washington Street, providing his business with more space. A horse-powered roaster symbolized the fervor and passion necessary to transform coffee beans into something extraordinary. Mr. Gillies' business thrived, supplying retailers nationwide and reaching New Orleans by 1863. Gillies became synonymous with coffee roasting in 19th-century America.

In 1872, official recognition of his innovative leadership arrived with two patents for revolutionary coffee roasting methods. The success story continued, notably with the introduction of natural gas roasting in 1909.

The 20th century welcomed the Schoenholt family into the Gillies narrative. Deeply involved in New York's coffee trade, the Schoenholts rejuvenated the Gillies saga, ensuring the preservation of this caffeinated legacy. Delve into the early days of Mac Schoenholt, the passionate craftsman who entered the coffee trade around 1912. His energy and passion revitalized each bean, authoring the initial chapters of this enthralling family story. Then, David L. Schoenholt entered the coffee trade in 1928, and took the helm of Gillies in 1947, expertly guiding the company through the mid-century. The tale continues with Donald Schoenholt. At eleven, he discovered coffee's delights on his father's lap, and by fourteen, he began mastering the art of roasting. Committed to the company, Donald diligently preserved Gillies' rich history.

A pivotal moment came in 1975 with Hy Chabbott's arrival, a friend Donald met at Camp Columbia. Together, they authored 44 years of a caffeinated epic, marked by unforgettable taste experiences. Sadly, in 2019, Hy passed away, leaving a legacy rich in memories. His son, David Chabbott, joined the company in 2006, becoming the Vice President of Operations.

Let's pause a moment to reflect on Donald Schoenholt, a Coffeeman Emeritus whose name is etched in American coffee history. Winner of the Specialty Coffee Association's Lifetime Achievement Award and belonging to a distinguished coffee family, Donald exemplifies passion and dedication to Gillies Coffee Company, established in 1840. His story exemplifies how history is crafted, with each generation adding its unique note to this unforgettable symphony.

A pioneer in specialty coffee, Gillies is distributed to quality boutiques, wholesalers, retailers, chefs, and hotels nationwide. A celebrated roaster, taster, and educator, Donald has written hundreds of articles on coffee over his seven-decade career. His expertise and integrity have been acknowledged in prestigious publications like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Tokyo Shimbun, and The Times of London. Dubbed the "Father of America's Coffee Renaissance," he was the first American coffee roaster to gain global recognition for the American cup in the 1970s. His leadership and character have guided three generations of American coffee roasters.

As founder of the Coffee Roasters Guild and the Specialty Coffee Association, Donald leads these organizations with love and emotion. His commitment extends beyond titles; as a founding member of the Kona Coffee Farmers Association in Hawaii, he has cultivated emotional bonds with coffee growers. His support for humanitarian causes like Coffee Kids®, Grounds for Health, Coffee Quality Institute (CQI), Women's Coffee Alliance, Coffee Trust®, and Cup for Education underlines his profound desire to make a positive, emotional impact.

Under his leadership, Gillies made history as a pioneer, achieving the first Fair Trade, Organic, and Bird Friendly certifications in New York. His impact in the industry is substantial, ensuring the survival of the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America). Donald, now editor emeritus, is revered for his expertise, making him a pivotal figure in coffee history. Today, he continues to inspire in the film "Good Coffee Men" and is referenced in books like "New York City Coffee: A Caffeinated History" and "Coffee and Tea Perceptions and Illusions". A documentary by Sealand highlights his enduring legacy in the coffee industry.

Today, Gillies is more than just a company; it's a tale of love, perseverance, and passion that has overcome every challenge in American history. Nine generations have shaped this company, nurturing a tradition of exceptional coffee. With every taste of Gillies coffee, you experience not just a beverage but the emotion, heritage, and passion in every sip. We're proud to share this history with you, and to continue offering coffees of exceptional quality, just as our founder, Wright Gillies, would have wished.

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