Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Coffee Kept St. Louis on the Move

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Coffee Kept St. Louis on the Move

Article excerpt

Like practically everyone else in St. Louis, and indeed much of the world, the O'Connor family headed to the World's Fair here in 1904.

One of the fair's chief draws was the opportunity to see things the spectators had never seen before. The O'Connor brothers were particularly taken by the coffee beans being roasted in bulk over gas flames.

If others could do it, the brothers thought, so could they. So they decided to go into the business of roasting coffee. At first, they sold their coffee under the family name, O'Connor's. But then they decided to spell their name backward.

And that's how Ronnoco coffee was born. More than 100 years later, the company is still roasting and grinding coffee today, though on a much bigger scale than the original O'Connor brothers could have ever imagined.

The newly opened exhibit at the Missouri History Museum, "Coffee: The World in Your Cup and St. Louis in Your Cup," looks at the history of coffee in St. Louis and the impact it made here, along with a global overview of the bean and its production.

Coffee may be a bigger part of St. Louis than you thought. The city wasn't just known for booze and shoes, at one time it was also famous for its brews. Its coffee brews.

With its convenient location on the Mississippi River, St. Louis was the largest producer of coffee in the nation among cities that were not on a coast. The first two decades of the 20th century were the peak years of coffee production, though coffee was an important part of daily life here as far back as the French settlers who brought coffee beans with them.

Museum exhibits manager Katie Moon, who curated the St. Louis portion of the exhibit, believes that coffee even played a major part in the city's becoming the Gateway to the West. Settlers heading west wanted to take coffee with them, and St. Louis was the best place to find it west of the Mississippi, she said.

And of course the soldiers in the Civil War craved their coffee, too. The exhibit includes a rare war-era Sharps carbine with a grinder attachment that could be used for coffee or grain.

In the early days, women it was almost always women roasted their own coffee beans in their own skillets. …

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