MJB (coffee)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
MJB Coffee

MJB is an American brand of coffee that is owned by Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA.[1]


Early MJB Coffee building

After the California Gold Rush, San Francisco became a center of coffee importing and roasting in the western United States, spawning such future industry giants as Folgers Coffee and Hills Brothers Coffee.

In 1881 Max J. Brandenstein (1860-1925),[2] son of tobacco wholesaler Joseph Brandenstein, began producing roasted coffee in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1899 he established a tea, spice and coffee import business in his name that took over his brand with the assistance of brothers Mannie, Charlie, and Eddie. The firm's name was later changed to the MJB Co.[3] to minimise sibling rivalry and disguise their German-Jewish origins.[4]

In her memoir "Coffee, Martinis and San Francisco," published by Presidio Press in 1978, Ruth Bransten McDougall, the granddaughter of the founder, wrote on page 94 that her father Mannie Brandenstein changed his name to Bransten to protect the business against anti-German antipathies during World War I, as well as to please his wife, whose family originated from France.[5]

In 1910 Mannie Brandenstein debuted what was to become a well-known advertising campaign: "MJB Coffee Why?", beginning with a promotional fans giveaway at the Johnson-Jeffries[6] boxing match in Reno, Nevada. In time, signs bearing the slogan appeared all over San Francisco.[3][7]

"In 1898, Edward Norton, of New York, was granted a United States patent on a vacuum process for canning foods, subsequently applied to coffee. Others followed. Hills Brothers, of San Francisco, were the first to pack coffee in a vacuum, under the Norton patents, in 1900. M.J. Brandenstein & Company, of San Francisco, began to pack coffee in vacuum cans in 1914."[8]

For the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915 MJB created a temporary "ultramodern" coffee house featuring a giant cup and saucer on the roof with the illuminated word "WHY".[9]

In the 1940s, MJB got endorsement from several of the industry’s glitterati, including the Cherokee Strip film stars promoting the brand. Moreover, a 1960s TV campaign of MJB saying "tastes good when it should" featured actress Teri Garr.

Ruth Branstein McDougall, Mannie’s daughter wrote a book named ‘Under Mannie’s Hat’ that is a collection of memoirs of their family and brand history.[10]

MJB was acquired by Nestle in 1985.[11] The San Francisco headquarters were closed in 1997.[12] In 1999 Sara Lee Corp. acquired MJB, Hills Brothers, and Chase & Sanborn from Nestle.[13]

In 2005 MJB, Hills Brothers, Chase & Sanborn, and Chock Full o' Nuts were purchased by Massimo Zanetti Beverage from Sara Lee for US$82.5 million.[14]


  1. ^ "MJB Premium Coffee". Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA. Retrieved 2009-04-03.
  2. ^ "Max Joseph Brandenstein (1860-1925) - Find A..." www.findagrave.com.
  3. ^ a b "San Francisco Coffee Roasters". San Francisco City Guides. Retrieved 2009-04-03.
  4. ^ "How Does Your Coffee Grow?". Exploratorium. Retrieved 2009-04-03.
  5. ^ Page 94, Coffee, Martinis and San Francisco, by Ruth Bransten McDougall, published by Presidio Press, 1978
  6. ^ Page 55, Coffee, Martinis and San Francisco, by Ruth Bransten McDougall, published by Presidio Press, 1978
  7. ^ Schifrin, Dan (April 20, 2012). "Then and Now: MJB helped fuel S.F. coffee culture".
  8. ^ Ukers, William Harrison (1922). "Chapter 30: Development of the Green and Roasted Coffee Business in the United States". All About Coffee. New York: Tea and Coffee Trade Journal Co. p. 506 – via Project Gutenberg.
  9. ^ "Today's Extra: The 1915 Pan-Pacific International Expo". San Francisco Chronicle. 2009-01-28.
  10. ^ Because Tradition Matters. That's Why.
  11. ^ Talbot, John (2004). Grounds for Agreement. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 0-7425-2629-1.
  12. ^ Chiem, Phat X.; Howe, Kenneth; Writers, Chronicle Staff (June 28, 1997). "Last Call at Nestle Beverage / Owner of Hills Bros. closes shop in S.F. as it moves to Glendale". SFGate.
  13. ^ Johnson, Greg (1999-12-07). "Nestle USA to Sell Coffee Brands to Sara Lee". Los Angeles Times.
  14. ^ "Sara Lee to sell U.S. retail coffee business to Segafredo Zanetti". AllBusiness.com. 2005-12-20.

External links[edit]