Dan May, of Brewerton, in the Paul de Lima "cupping" room, where he taste-tests coffee. This Syracuse original was started in the early 1900's when a woman from Syracuse brought home green coffee beans from Brazil.
continued But it's not just about saving a little money. There is an interesting story behind this Syracuse phenomenon, that being an empire started by a woman in her kitchen, with a desire to serve a good cup of coffee to her friends. You can read all about it at their museum but to sum up, the Paul de Lima story began with a woman by the name of Ella Barber de Lima, Paul's mother, who visited her in-laws in Brazil, returning home to Syracuse with a few bags of green coffee beans. Friends and family loved the taste and quite an idea grew out of that 1902 South American foray. At the urging of these friends, Ella began to roast coffee beans in her kitchen using bicycle power, and then bring the finished product to nearby Syracuse stores. By 1916 Paul, Ella's oldest son, began a coffee company with his mother. The company was incorporated and word quickly spread; Teddy Roosevelt, for example, was said to have highly praised the quality of the coffee as he passed through Central New York. This became a family affair; Paul de Lima and his sister Marie remained active in the running of the company well into their eighties, even as the actual leadership of the firm passed from one relative to another. In 1944 Paul de Lima's oldest son, Paul W., joined the family company and probably would've gone on to lead it, had he not enlisted in the armed services and sadly been killed in combat during World War II.
In 1945, Paul's youngest son, David, signed on and he later became the president of Paul de Lima Coffee. Grandson Peter Miller joined the business in 1967 and it was he who was responsible for the building of the huge warehouse and distribution center in Rochester. Their territory was expanding but Syracuse was still at its core. The company now has over 6,000 commercial customers and offers more than 2,000 products. Dan Hildreth, retail store clerk in Cicero, said the Paul de Lima brand is distributed all over the northeast, including all of New York state and most of New England.