Hot News Brewing in Coffee

A European conglomerate adds a Vermont business to its global coffee empire.

A business that began as a small Vermont coffee roaster has been acquired by an international investment group for nearly $14 billion—the biggest acquisition to date in the booming specialty coffee industry.

On December 7, European conglomerate JAB Holding Company announced it was acquiring Waterbury, Vermont-based Keurig Green Mountain Inc. for $13.9 billion. According to the Wall Street Journal, JAB is partnering with several minority investors in the biggest coffee deal on record, adding another player to the European investment firm’s fast-growing international coffee empire.​

Backed by the billionaire Reimann family of Germany, JAB is a Luxembourg-based firm building a global coffee presence on the strength of U.S. specialty coffee brands. Other recent acquisitions by JAB include Caribou Coffee Co. and Peet’s Coffee & Tea.

In a statement, JAB Chairman Bart Becht said the Keurig Green Mountain deal “represents a major step forward in the creation of our global coffee platform.”

Social media soon buzzed with analysts and consumers who agreed.

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Keurig Green Mountain is the leading manufacturer of single-serve coffee pods in the U.S. and a pioneer in the specialty coffee market. The company began as Green Mountain Coffee Roasters in 1981, when entrepreneur Bob Stiller discovered a cup of coffee so good near a Vermont ski resort that he and a partner bought a two-thirds stake in a small coffee-roasting company in Waitsfield, Vermont, that produced the beans. The company expanded and moved to Waterbury, Vermont, in 1982. It acquired brewing-machine manufacturer Keurig in 2006.

According to the Rutland Herald, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin acknowledged that whenever big news affects a major employer in Vermont, there’s always apprehension. But the newspaper reported that after reaching out to Keurig and JAB, Shumlin felt confident the deal represented an opportunity for both Keurig Green Mountain and Vermont.

The deal should close in the first quarter of 2016. Keurig Green Mountain will transition from publicly traded to privately owned and will remain an independent entity run by existing management. It will stay headquartered in Waterbury.

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Ken Davis

Ken Davis

Ken is a writer in the Co-op Outreach Department. Email him at kdavis@coopfoodstore.com.