The Journey Begins
Shipbuilder Austin Hills, Sr., along with his two sons, Austin Herbert and Reuben Wilmarth, sail from New England to California.
Coffee and More – To Market We Go
Once settled, young Austin and R.W. (few called him Reuben) sell coffee, tea, extracts and dairy products in a Bay City Market stall.
A Taste of the Exotic – Coffee and Spice
Their market location blossoms into a full-fledged retail store called Arabian Coffee and Spice Mills on Harrison Street.
Office, factory and selling force, circa 1882.
Factory worker, 1953.
Patriotic Packaging – Coffee During Wartime
During World War II, packaging changes from metal to glass containers. Coffee stockpiling becomes widespread and Americans are limited to one pound every five weeks due to rationing.
On-Site Sales Force
Hills Bros.® provides on-site employees to help grocers in case they have any dissatisfied coffee customers.
R.W. Hills, 1931.
Austin H. Hills, 1931.
From the Windy City to #1
Hills Bros.® expands into Chicago. Within 11 short months, Hills Bros.® becomes the region’s #1 selling coffee.
Hills Bros.® building dedication, 1928.
Sweet Home San Francisco
2 Harrison Street in San Francisco becomes the official home office for Hills Bros.®
Roasting operations move into the landmark brick structure along the Embarcadero.
Alaskan explorers take a Hills Bros.® coffee break, 1923.
Hills Bros.® can, circa 1922.
The Red Can Brand
The Red Can Brand of Hills Bros.® Coffee is introduced.
A “Taster” is Born
A young artist named Briggs offers to create a company trademark. His design, the ‘coffee taster’, is inspired by the coffee’s Ethiopian origin, is welcomed by Austin and R.W. A life-size statue is still present at the Hills Bros.® San Francisco building.
Hills Bros.® can, circa 1906.
Workers loading boxes of coffee onto a wagon, circa 1905.
Packaging Pioneers – Vacuum
R.W. Hills, a very passionate tinkerer, stumbles upon a process that removes air from coffee packaging- resulting in fresher beans. Known as ‘vacuum-packing’, R.W.’s discovery is the most widely used packaging method to this day.
Antique Hills Bros.® coffee bin, circa 1900.
Men in front of Hills Bros.® building, circa 1890.
Hills Bros.® Plant – San Francisco, circa 1955.
Eastward Expansion – On To NYC
Hills Bros.® surges eastward into New York. Rapidly, New York state and all of New England are asking for Hills Bros.® coffee.
Hills Bros.® truck with canopy and mechanical coffee taster on top, 1964.
Change in Command, Never in Brand
Nestle purchases Hills Bros.® Coffee.
History Told – Excellence on Exhibit
An interpretive Hills Bros.® history exhibit is put on permanent display at 2 Harrison Street.
Change in Command, Never in Brand
Sara Lee purchases Hills Bros.® Coffee from Nestle.
Expanding Taste Horizons – New Product
Hills Bros.® Cappuccino is launched.
Hills Bros.® races NASCAR 2001-2002. Driven by Hut Stricklin.
Hills Bros.® finds a Home with MZB
Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA purchases Hills Bros.® Coffee from Sara Lee.
Making our Mark
The famous Hills Bros.® Coffee sign, which can be seen over the waterfront along the Embarcadero, remains a National landmark.
Excellence in the Bag
Introduction of Hills Bros.® 100% Arabica Premium Bag Coffees.
Homefront Heros Promotion
Honors men, women and families of service with scholarships in partnership with ThanksUSA.
Introduction of single-serve coffee
Hills Bros.® launches single-serve coffee in the Filter Cup™, which uses less plastic than the leading single-serve format.
Hills Bros.® new packaging is unveiled
The packaging is redesigned to pay homage to the San Francisco heritage.
It features cheerful illustrations of Bay Area icons and landmarks as well as a new tagline – A Taste of San Francisco™.
Introduction of Frappés
Hills Bros.® creates sweet, deliciously chilly treats with the launch of Frappés.