Royal Cup Coffee

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1996 Royal Cup logo.jpg

Royal Cup Coffee, Inc. is a privately-held coffee and tea importer, roaster and distributor based at 160 Cleage Drive near Pinson Valley Parkway in northeast Birmingham. The company distributes to restaurants, offices, hotels, airlines, resorts and convenience stores across North America and the Caribbean. It also provides and maintains coffee serving equipment through a national network of trained route managers and technicians. The business reported $176 million in sales for 2007 and employs over 830 workers in 100 facilities around the country, including 220 in Birmingham. Chip Wann succeeded Bill Smith III as CEO in 2020.


The Royal Cup name was first used to designate a brand of coffees and teas sold by the Batterton Coffee Company, which also manufactured spices. The company was founded under another name in 1896 and bought out of near-failure in 1906 by Henry Batterton. Batterton revived the company and sold Royal Cup brand coffee along with "Challenge", "Home Luxury" and "Garland" brand roasted coffee by the pound, as well as Magic City 4½ pound buckets with a "fine cup & saucer" packed inside. In 1909 the company advertised that all its coffee was roasted daily in Birmingham, and that its product was served at the Chamber of Commerce Drug Store.

For most of its life the company operated out of its own three-story brick building at 2401 1st Avenue North downtown.

The Batterton family sold the business to Billy Smith in 1950. When Smith died in 1968 his son, Bill Smith Jr took over the company. Later his younger brother, Hatton came on board as CEO.

During the 1980s the company operated as a national licensing system. In 1998 the Smiths took full ownership of the system.

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 the company sent a truck to "Ground Zero" to serve coffee to rescue workers.

In 2003 Royal Cup began buying coffee from farms certified by the Rainforest Alliance for meeting high environmental and social standards in their operations.

In July 2013, the company purchased the 153,000-square-foot former Smurfit-Stone and RockTenn plant at 3200 Pinson Valley Parkway, adjoining their existing plant and announced a $30 million expansion. Bill Smith III, assumed the role of CEO from his uncle in July 2014.

In 2017 Royal Cup acquired Richgood Gourmet, the manufacturer and distributor of Icebox Coffee and hired its founder, Bebe Goodrich, as director of liquid product innovation. The resulting product is the ready-to-drink Signature Brand Cold Brew Coffee, sold in 12-ounce plastic bottles with bright yellow labels bearing the company's lion logo.


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