Our Story

For generations, Bushells Coffee has been a part of everyday Australian life. It is an iconic household brand name that generations of families have grown up enjoying. We are proud to be featured in PANDORA, Australia’s Web Archive, which seeks to collect Australian online publications which represent the cultural and social life, and activities of Australians.

Browse through our rich heritage below and discover how our story has evolved over the decades to become one of Australia’s most loved coffee brands. When it comes to enjoying better coffee for better value, it better be Bushells!

1880 – Humble Beginnings

Following the death of his wife Agnes in the early 1880’s, Alfred Thomas Bushell traveled to Brisbane and by 1883, was trading there selling both tea and coffee from a shop. Some years later, two of Alfred’s sons started selling tea in Sydney trading as Bushell and Company – the Tea Men.

1890 – Bigger and Better

The Sydney business was expanded from selling tea on a roadside stall to selling tea wholesale. In 1899, the business expanded further when a branch was opened in Melbourne.

1900 – A Family Disagreement

By 1902 Alfred and his sons, Walter and Phillip, were well-established as tea traders. Like all family businesses they had their problems, with the sons disagreeing on how their father ran the business. In 1903, they parted amicably and the brothers continued to use their father’s picture on the packet to attract the more conservative customers. In 1908, Alfred retired from the business and assigned the Queensland business to his sons.

1910 – Everyone Chips In

Following Alfred’s death in 1910, Bushells Ltd was registered as a public company. Rapid expansion resulted in the company over extending itself and the bank was proving difficult in assisting with cash flow problems. It was later reported that Phillip was ‘really’ worried and called the staff together to explain the situation. According to an interview at the time, ‘The staff kicked in the money from their own resources. The crisis was overcome with money from the employees. Most of them decided to be paid back in shares rather than cash, and many finished up very well off’.

1920 – A New Home

Land was purchased in 1920 in the area now known as ‘The Rocks’ in Sydney. It was here that Bushells was to build its seven-story head office and incorporate new tea blending and packing methods of both tea and coffee. This was to remain the head office and tea factory for the next 40 years.

1930 – New Zealand Calling

In 1937, Bushells Ltd formed a company in New Zealand. To introduce their product to New Zealand the company sent every housewife on the electoral roll a personally addressed letter together with a card entitling her to a half pound (225g) of tea, completely free of charge. This quickly established the company and within a year it had a huge section of the tea market.

1940 – Expansion

In about 1945, J.A.D. Gibson Pty Ltd, who had previously sold the tea division of their business to Robert Timms, was itself taken over by Bushells. At this time Gibsons was manufacturing coffee essence and roasting coffee in Sydney and in Newcastle.

1950 – The Big Move to Concord

In the mid 50s a decision was made to move the Bushells Head Office, to the current Concord site where it remains today. According to records the purchase date is identified as being on Christmas Eve, 1956 for the sum of 85,000 pounds ($170,000). The site was ready for immediate development, so indicative plans were drawn up and spray drying equipment and six instant coffee extractors were ordered from America. Tea production commenced on site in 1958.

1960 – Factory Closures

The Newcastle tea plant was closed in 1963, as progressively were the other factories in Perth, Queensland and Victoria.

1970 – Brooke Bond Takes Over

In 1978, the Bushells family made the decision to sell their shares and approached their cousins, Brooke, in England. The Brooke Bond company was still substantially owned by the Brooke family, but operated under the name of Brooke Bond Liebig Ltd. Objections to the take over by Brooke Bond Liebig Ltd were overcome and following the sale of the shares, Bushells donated and established a public plaza. The plaza, known as ‘Bushell Place’, is in The Rocks area in Sydney.

1980 – Coffee Focus

Throughout the 1980s, substantial investment was made in the coffee business. The instant coffee extraction plant was rebuilt in 1981, a new continuous roaster for instant coffee was installed in 1982, and a new instant coffee agglomerator was installed in 1985. Unilever acquired the company through their purchase of the Brooke Bond business in 1988.

1990 – FreshFood Takes Over

In 1998, as part of an acquisition of coffee brands from Unilever, FreshFood Services Pty Ltd purchased the Bushells Coffee brand. The tea brand still remains with Unilever. The coffee continues to be produced at the Concord Factory. FreshFood also purchased the New Zealand division of Bushells Coffee.

2000 – Driver Reviver

Bushells Coffee began sponsoring the iconic Driver Reviver program in 2000, providing free cups of coffee to weary drivers across the nation. Each holiday season up to 200 Driver Reviver sites open right across Australia, providing a safe place to stop, chat, rest and refuel, before continuing safely on your journey. In the last 15 years Bushells Coffee has proudly served over 8 million cups of coffee to the Australian community.

2010 – 100 Years of Quality

100 years on, Bushells Coffee continues to be enjoyed by Australians of all ages. This iconic brand is stocked nationwide and remains to be one of Australia’s most trusted coffee brands; famous for providing locally roasted quality coffee.

Bushells Coffee for Business

If you’re a hotel, restaurant, café or other business looking for a better coffee solution, you can buy wholesale direct from our online store.

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