It's the Month of History! This year's theme is happiness. That's why this month we look at our collection pieces with pink glasses and ask ourselves: did they make people happy? This time we look at the history of Douwe Egberts. Douwe Egberts brings cosiness and pleasure and has been making people happy for years, you would say. But is that so, and how did that little shop in Joure actually become a global concept? Journey through time!
"And then there was coffee..."
Douwe Egberts would not have existed without the coffee plant. That's why we'll start with the discovery. There are many myths about the discovery of coffee but the oldest is the story about a goat herder. The shepherd travelled with his flock through present-day Ethiopia. He noticed that his goats were busier after eating a berry. The goatherd tried the berry himself and he also got a lot of energy from it. He told it to monks from a monastery nearby. They then made a drink of it by first burning and boiling the berries. The first coffee was a fact.
Trade by the VOC
In the 11th century, coffee was imported from Ethiopia to Arabia. Through trade with Italy, the coffee beans also reached Europe. When the demand for coffee rose, the VOC responded. Because trade with the trading post of Mocha became too expensive for the VOC, the Company decided to set up its own plantations on Java. The coffee plants grew well and so did the Dutch coffee trade.
In 1753, Egbert Douwes and his wife Akke Thijssens founded a shop with colonial goods. At the Midstraat in Joure they sold coffee, tea and tobacco. Business went well, but Egbert Douwes kept it exclusively from selling from his shop to the locals. His son Douwe Egberts later changed that.
Over another bow
Douwe Egberts, son of Egbert Douwes, went to help his father with the business in 1780. And after his father died, he took over the business. Douwe Egberts took a different approach. He was ambitious and went to visit his clients. First only in the south of Friesland but later also in Overijsel and in Drenthe. The Douwe Egberts brand was also put on the map outside Friesland.
Family De Jong
Douwe Egberts died in 1806. His second wife, Lysbeth Mintjes, took over the company, after which it was named Douwe Egberts Widow's Company. In 1811 Napoleon was in power in the Netherlands. He forced everyone to adopt a last name. Lysbeth Mintjes then chose the surname De Jong.
Lysbeth Mintjes died in 1833. Douwe Egberts' sons took over the company. Hessel Douwes de Jong later continued the company under the name Douwe Egbertszoon. He also stayed in the house on the Midstraat, which he had bought in 1831.
We're jumping in time. It was 1887 when Cornelis Johannes de Jong took over the management of the company. He is considered the second founder of Douwe Egberts. That's because he made sure the company expanded. In 1898 he built the first factory building in the backyard of his house on the Midstraat. Meanwhile, the goods were sold in the shop 'De Witte Os', located next to the house.
In 1881 the house and the factory building were lost in a fire. Johannes Hessel decided to rebuild the buildings immediately. These are now part of Museum Joure.
"Burned for the Netherlands"
When the factory building no longer offered sufficient space, Cornelis Johannes de Jong bought a larger factory building on the Zijlroede in Joure in 1912. But the expansion continued. In 1919 there was also a branch in Utrecht.
End of family business
Douwe Egberts continued to grow. In 1937, the Pickwick brand was introduced, inspired by Charles Dickens' 'Pickwick Papers'. After 1945 there were goods branches throughout the country, but also in Belgium, France, Spain and Denmark. As a result of continued growth, more and more non-family members joined the management of the company. After the acquisition of the American Consolidated Foods Corporation in 1978, D.E. was officially no longer a family business.
"And then there's coffee, Douwe Egberts coffee, good coffee
More than 260 years have passed and Douwe Egberts is one of the biggest coffee brands and Pickwick is a household name for tea lovers. By the way, did you know that the Dutch drink the most coffee of any country? Whether it's to wake up in the morning or with friends, we always find a time to have a nice cup of coffee or tea.
Do coffee and tea make us happy? That's a tough one. In any case, we can say that many moments of happiness go hand in hand with one or the other, as Douwe Egberts' latest commercial also emphasises.