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Paul de Lima coffee: A hometown product to be proud of

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.

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. Lynn Cuda

— By 1973, Grandson Paul de Lima, Jr., also signed on and helped bring the family business to a new peak of fame as an independent coffee roaster. By 1981, when the president of the company, David, died, Paul de Lima, Jr., became its CEO and Peter Miller the president. In Syracuse, the labor is divided between the two locations, the receiving, roasting, packaging, and processing plant in Cicero and the general offices and distribution center in Liverpool.

Back to the store and museum, a favorite place of mine. The well-stocked store is neat and clean, and a great place to find a gift for a special occasion. With plenty of coffee and teas, of all varieties, you are sure to find something you'll like. There are also the related gift items in vast supply: canisters, logo mugs and travel mugs, cookie mixes, coffee scoops, hot chocolate packets, stirrers and assorted “sweets” such as chocolate-dipped graham crackers. You can buy a decorated themed basket of goodies, or fill a basket of your own. The 2012 Paul de Lima coffee holiday gift collection, including 10 gift suggestions and which are displayed in the store or viewed online, include, a de Lima mug set for $12.95, chocolate gift tin for $12.95, tea gift tin for $13.95, and many others right up to the large coffee lover's collection (in a wicker basket) for $34.95.

When you first enter the store, there is a granite-topped island offering visitors free samples of the coffees that are being highlighted that day, usually including one regular, one decaf, and one or two flavors, such a French vanilla or pumpkin spice, and it is always a good idea to try one before purchasing. For example, I learned that there is a tremendous taste difference, at least to me, between arabica and robusta coffees, with the later having a much stronger and “woodier” flavor, like the espresso coffees in Europe. Off to the side of the store is the “cupping” room where you might see an employee (an official coffee taster) testing the quality of the coffee beans. Further down the hallway is the museum, which can accommodate around 55 people and where educational tours can be arranged for groups that might want to learn more about the growing, processing, and roasting of the beans, and they can even include a classroom session if scheduled beforehand. To do this, email: factory@delimacoffee.com or call 457-3725 (extension 200), for information or to set up a visit. Dan Hildreth, of the Cicero site, told me that visits to the store and group tours have doubled in the past year. The day I was there, he was preparing for a group visit of 55 for the next day.

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