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American Business in History - How Arbuckle's Ariosa Coffee Helped Keep Cowboys on the Job

J Timothy Connor
 


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Talk about tough work! The cowhand of 1875 was paid $30 a month plus room and board. He worked from “can see to can't see" (pre-sunup to after sundown) in a job where his likelihood of violent death was a daily occurrence. On the cattle drives, about a dozen men would herd 3,000 cattle from the home ranch to the railhead for shipping - anywhere from 1000 to 2000 miles away. It was dusty, dirty, dangerous, and often had the added benefit of hostile Indians to make life interesting. How did the trail boss keep men on the job? One of the most important factors was hot coffee available all the time, and the coffee that was used universally in the west - to the point where some of the men didn't know that other brands even existed - was Arbuckle's. Up through the Civil War coffee was sold green, in the form of whole beans. To make it the cook had to roast the beans before grinding them, and apparently just one burned bean would ruin the whole batch. The Arbuckle Brothers of Philadelphia changed all that with a patented process of pre-roasting the beans and coating them with a mixture of egg and sugar which sealed in the freshness of the roasted bean. They would then vacuum seal the beans into 1 or 5 pound packages, and ship them 100 pounds to the box. The coffee became so popular with the cooks and cowboys out west that the name “Arbuckle's" actually took the place of the term “coffee" when a man wanted the hot drink on a cold morning.

One other “trick" the Arbuckle brothers used: every package of coffee included a stick of peppermint, and the busy camp cooks would use that peppermint to coax cowhands into grinding the coffee for them. The cry, “Who wants the candy?" would bring even the toughest men to the chuck wagon to satisfy their sweet tooth by grinding another pound of Arbuckles for the trail crew.

How has the Arbuckle Company done in providing a means for employers to keep good people on a tough job? Well, they're still in business today, and you can check out their site at www.arbucklecoffeetraders.com. AND you can still buy the same Arbuckle's Ariosa Coffee that the western cowboy knew 150 years ago.

By the way, if ya want to brew up the same coffee that the cow camps used, the recipe is a handful of coffee for every cup of water, boil it until it's blacker than midnight (some said a horseshoe ought to float in it. . . ), and then settle the grounds by sprinkling cold water into it. Now, whether THAT recipe will be a favorite with your staff. . . ?!

How good are you at finding ways to keep your staff happy and on board? It can be done, and Arbuckle's was the tool the ranches used to do it.

The author of this article, Tim Connor, is president and founder of Rodeo! Performance Group, Inc. , an Ocala, Florida-based group of facilitators working with businesses and executives who want to make their businesses competitive on a global scale. You may sign up for Rodeo's monthly newsletter, the Wrangler, at this link: http://www.rodeopg.com/Rodeo_Upload_Site_6-2008/TOPLINK_Contact_Us.html Tim can be contacted there or by phone at 1-877-284-0009. Visit Rodeo! on the web at http://www.rodeopg.com

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