Eight O'Clock Coffee is the brand line of coffee products currently manufactured by the Eight O'Clock Coffee Company, a subsidiary of Tata Global Beverages, which is headquartered in Montvale, New Jersey; its coffee production plant is in Landover, Maryland. Tata Global Beverages has owned Eight O'Clock Coffee since 2006.
Eight O'Clock Coffee was created by The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (later A&P) in 1859, in the latter company's founding year. Despite selling off the brand in 2003, A&P would continue to sell Eight O'Clock Coffee in its family of stores until the supermarkets closed in late 2015. Eight O'Clock is also sold in other supermarkets across the country.
A&P was established as "Gilman & Company" in 1859, and began selling bags of whole bean coffee on their own. Their coffee, however, was not given a true official name at that time, being sometimes called "Eight O'Clock Breakfast Coffee" at the start.
In 1919, in contrast with the introduction of two other coffee lines, Bokar and Red Circle, the coffee was finally given its official name; A&P supposedly conducted a survey asking people what time of day they drank coffee most. The majority of those surveyed reported that they typically drank coffee at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. A&P then went ahead and took out the word "Breakfast" from the name, rebranding its signature coffee as simply "Eight O'Clock".
In the 1930s, Eight O'Clock coffee had gained over a quarter of the U.S. market share. By 1930, it was the most popular brand of coffee in the United States.
A&P, however, began to decline in the 1950s, closing stores and leaving some mass U.S. markets in the process. In 1979, the company licensed its branding division, Compass Foods, Inc., to sell Eight O'Clock Coffee to other retailers including competing supermarket chains; among them is Pathmark, a supermarket that broke away from the ShopRite retailers' cooperative in 1960s, which A&P acquired in 2007.
In 2003, A&P spun off the Eight O'Clock Coffee brand to Gryphon Investors, a private equity firm based in San Francisco, California, which used the brand to create the Eight O'Clock Coffee Company. A few weeks later, Eight O'Clock's ground coffee line was introduced. Gryphon Investors would soon turn around and sell Eight O'Clock Coffee Company to Tata Global Beverages in 2006.
In 2009, Consumer Reports rated Eight O'Clock Coffee's 100 percent Colombian brew as the "best buy" for ground brews, beating well-known brands, such as Folgers, Maxwell House and Starbucks.
On August 8, 2013, the entire Eight O'Clock Coffee line was revamped with new packaging and new flavors.
Also, the Eight o Clock coffee brand produced an instant coffee, though this seems to have been only sold at A&P family stores and thus has been retired with the closing of the chain in 2015.
Until 2003, Eight O'Clock Coffee only came in original whole bean. Packaged in an all-red bag, the coffee can be completely custom ground to the customer's order; this trend continues today, only at A&P-owned stores and some competing supermarkets, although customers who have their own grinders in homes can grind the coffee themselves.
From 2003, up until August 8, 2013, Eight O'Clock Coffee was available in 11 flavors, all in 11-to-42-ounce (310 to 1,190 g) bags, both whole bean and ground. Originally in all-color bags, its packaging was changed in 2010 to white bags with color coding.
The 2003 coffee line, which was refreshed in 2010, was as follows:Original
Decaf 100% Colombian
Bokar (Discontinued in 2012)
Dark Italian Roast
The current flavor line up, which was introduced on August 8, 2013, and split up into three "categories", is as follows:The Original – Whole Bean, Ground and K-Cup
Dark Italian Espresso – Ground
Dark Italian Roast – Whole Bean and K-Cup
French Roast – Whole Bean and Ground
The Original Decaf – Whole Bean, Ground and K-Cup
50% Decaf – Whole Bean and Ground
Colombian Peaks – Whole Bean, Ground and K-Cup
Central Highlands – Whole Bean
African Plains – Ground
Hazelnut – Whole Bean, Ground and K-Cup
French Vanilla – Whole Bean and Ground
Caramel Macchiato – Ground
Chocolate Mint – Ground
Dark Chocolate Cherry (Seasonal) – Ground
Cinnamon Bun (Seasonal) – Ground
All 2013 flavors are packaged in identical red bags, which made a throwback to Eight O'Clock's pre-2003 years.