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From Nashville to National Icon: The Fascinating History of Maxwell House Coffee

Maxwell House coffee has been a household name for over a century, just the mention of the name conjures up a certain nostalgia for the days of classic American advertising. However, few people know the full history of this iconic coffee.

From its humble beginnings to its current status as one of the most beloved brands in the world, Maxwell House has a fascinating story to tell.

Origins of Maxwell House Coffee

The story of Maxwell House coffee begins with Joel Cheek, a businessman from Nashville, Tennessee. Cheek had a passion for coffee and wanted to create a blend that would rival the best coffees in the world.

In 1892, he set out on a journey to find the perfect beans for his blend. Cheek traveled across South America, meeting with coffee growers and roasters to learn all he could about the process of making great coffee.

He finally found what he was looking for in Guatemala, where he discovered a type of bean that he believed was perfect for his blend.

Meeting Roger Smith and Developing a Roast

Cheek returned to Nashville and began experimenting with different roasting methods to develop the perfect blend. His luck changed when he met Roger Smith, a coffee roaster who shared his passion for the beverage.

Together, they perfected the roasting process for their blend, which Cheek dubbed “Maxwell House.”

The Maxwell House Hotel’s Exclusive Use of Cheek’s Blend

Cheek’s hard work began to pay off when the prestigious Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville agreed to exclusively offer his coffee blend to its guests. The hotel’s owner, John Overton, was so impressed with the coffee that he placed a large order to keep the hotel supplied with the blend.

President Theodore Roosevelt’s Endorsement of the Coffee

Maxwell House coffee’s big break came in 1907 when President Theodore Roosevelt visited the hotel and was served a cup of Cheek’s coffee blend. Impressed by the taste, Roosevelt declared that the coffee was “good to the last drop”.

This endorsement did wonders for the brand, with sales skyrocketing as a result.

Cheek-Neal Coffee and Manufacturing is Founded

In 1911, Cheek joined forces with the Neal brothers to form Cheek-Neal Coffee and Manufacturing. The company began producing Maxwell House coffee in large quantities to meet the growing demand.

The coffee soon gained popularity throughout the country, thanks in part to the iconic slogan “Good to the last drop.”

Creation of the Maxwell House Company

In 1928, Postum Company, the brand behind Post Toasties and Grape-Nuts, acquired Cheek-Neal Coffee and Manufacturing. The acquisition came as a result of the growing popularity of Maxwell House coffee, which had become a national institution by this point.

Postum Company changed the name of the company to Maxwell House Products Corporation to reflect the popularity of the coffee brand.

Construction of the First Plant in Nashville

Postum Company invested heavily in the brand, and in 1931, they built the first Maxwell House coffee plant in Nashville. The plant helped to streamline the production process, making it easier to supply the ever-growing demand for Maxwell House coffee.

Sale of Cheek-Neal Coffee and Manufacturing to Postum Company

The success of Maxwell House coffee meant that Postum Company couldn’t resist the opportunity to acquire the brand. It wasn’t long before Maxwell House became one of the company’s most important products.

Renaming of the Company to Maxwell House Products Corporation

Postum Company changed the name of their newly acquired company to Maxwell House Products Corporation to reflect the unparalleled popularity of the brand. Today, the brand is owned by Kraft Foods, and it remains one of the most popular coffee brands on the market.


The story of Maxwell House coffee is a fascinating tale of passion, perseverance, and quality. From its humble origins in Nashville to its global domination as one of the most beloved coffee brands in the world, Maxwell House has come a long way.

Its success is a testament to the hard work and dedication of Joel Cheek and everyone involved in the brand’s creation. Today, the brand remains a staple in households across America, a testament to its enduring quality and taste.

The story of Maxwell House Coffee is a remarkable tale of passion, innovation, and quality that has resonated with coffee lovers the world over. From Joel Cheek’s pioneering efforts to craft a perfect blend to the legacy of the Maxwell House Hotel and its iconic slogan, “Good to the last drop,” Maxwell House has continued to evolve and innovate.

The expansion of the brand into decaffeinated and instant versions, as well as the development of measured varieties, has ensured that Maxwell House Coffee remains a beloved staple in households across America. The legacy of Joel Cheek and the Maxwell House Hotel continues to inspire new generations of coffee enthusiasts, reminding us of the value of hard work, dedication, and quality in all aspects of life.

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