Nestle & Hills Brothers Coffee

Nestle Beverage Company

Business Image Group organized, reproduced, restored and framed photography and graphics specific to the companies owned by Nestle Beverage Company. The total area of office space covered by the exhibits was approximately 200,000 sq. ft. in the Harrison Street, San Francisco headquarters.
It included hundreds of framed prints, photographs and FlexFrame content display systems.

Hills Bros. Coffee Company, 1996

Commissioned by the developer, the Shorenstein Group, BIG also designed, sourced and authored an interpretive history exhibit on the Hills Bros. Coffee Company, permanently installing it in the lobby of
#2 Harrison Street.

Blog post, San Francisco Images, about Hills Bros. history

Blog post, Hills Brothers Coffee - Interpretive exhibit at #2 Harrison Street

Letter from Nestle Senior Archivist

"In my capacity as Historian/Archivist at Nestle Beverage Company in San Francisco I have had considerable contact with Bennett Hall in the restoration of historic photographic materials used in illustrating many of the incidents that occurred during the seventy-two years that I have spent in the employ (and as a consultant ) of Hills Bros. Coffee, Inc. and the Company's present owner - Nestle Beverage Company.

Notable among all the examples of hand-tinting and framing by Bennett Hall is the exhibit of some twenty-five to thirty photographs of varying size and age that comprise the historical lobby exhibit in the building at #2 Harrison Street in San Francisco which was built and occupied as the home offices and plant of Hills Bros. from 1926 to 1985 (later by Nestle Beverage Company).

Bennett's judgement and artistry in the handling of such objects might well be descibed as "State Of The Art" and it is always a pleasure to work with him."

T. Carroll Wilson

Hills Bros Story

Cup-testing for coffee quality is acknowledged in the industry to have been started by Reuben Hills in the late 1880's. This photo shows cup-testing in action at Hills Bros. (ca 1930) led by Reuben Hills, Reuben Hills, Jr., Elliot Cofer, Dick Bennetts, Gene Hoelter and younger members in what is now identified as the Commodities Department. This testing procedure continues today with highly qualified personnel using the most advanced equipment to augment their expertise in judging coffee quality by taste and smell.

Another of the murals by James Holden shows a woman viewing the World's Fair on Treasure Island in 1939, from the top of Rincon Hill. The Hills Bros. Coffee illuminated sign on the roof of the Hills Bros. building at 2 Harrison Street is easily readable from the Bay day or night.

Hills Bros. was founded February 14, 1878, in San Francisco when two brothers, Austin H. Hills (1851-1933), and Reuben W. Hills (1856-1934), formed a partnership to sell retail dairy products in a stall in Bay City Market located at 1146 Market Street. Three years later they became owners of Arabian Coffee & Spice Mills. This marked the beginning of their growth to become one of the nation's largest and most notable coffee companies. Burned out by the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906, these courageous brothers went on to achieve their destined mark in coffee history. This building was the home office and plant for Hills Bros. from January 1926 until April 1990, when remodeling began to make this structure a vital part of the new block-square Hills Plaza.

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Main Exhibit - historic lobby of #2 Harrison Str. San Francisco

Main Lobby Exhibit, #2 Harrison