Why Folgers Moved Its Coffee Plant To New Orleans In The 1960s

Folgers is no stranger to weathering natural disasters, from an earthquake in San Francisco in 1906 to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005. Instead of crumbling under strain, the coffee company stepped up and helped its community and employees, according to the company site. Before Folgers was headquartered in New Orleans, it was located in San Francisco, which is where it first began. James Folger moved to California from the East Coast in the hope of a new life in 1850, which is when Folger began to work in the coffee industry. Upon Folger's death, the company, J.A. Folger & Co., was given to his son in 1889, according to Coffee.org.

In 1904, the company was hit by a natural disaster when its newly built factory was affected by an earthquake in San Francisco, according to the company. Fire spread across the city after the earthquake, and the Marines used the Folgers facility to fight fires and help the city in the aftermath. During that time, Folgers provided free coffee to residents.

Almost 100 years later, Folgers would again be badly affected by a natural disaster, this time Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005. The company's building and many of its employees' homes were badly damaged by the hurricane. As a result, Folgers set up temporary housing for its employees on its property. By the time Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Folgers had already been operating out of the city for 45 years.

Embracing New Orleans

Folgers' roots may have been deep in San Francisco, but in 1960 it decided to move its operations to New Orleans because the Louisiana city was a hub of green-coffee markets, per the company. The shift to New Orleans began after World War II when more ships began to travel from Central America to the Big Easy. According to the company, it employs more than 750 people at its New Orleans facilities. Folgers has two plants in New Orleans, per Gambit, which together make more than 300 products, including Dunkin', Café Bustelo, and Café Pilon.

In the years since Hurricane Katrina struck, Folgers says it has given more than $1 million and 25,000 hours of community service to the area. Biz New Orleans reports that every year Folgers stops its operations to allow for its employees to participate in community service projects. One of its annual charity events is to host a basketball tournament that raises money for the Children's Hospital of New Orleans. Folgers also features New Orleans in its recent ad, "Allow Us to Reintroduce Ourselves," as the company updates its branding and embraces its reputation that it is grandma's coffee and proud of it (via NPR).

The effort to embrace their identity seems to be paying off with sales with millennials and Gen Xers, which was the company's hope, reports NPR. Overall, Folgers' sales are growing as it marches into the future.