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Brewing in Birmingham

As Hatton Smith tells the story, he got his start in the family business, Royal Cup Coffee, by decree: “My mother forced my brother to hire me.” He joined the company in 1973, right after graduating from Washington and Lee.

That is one of the stories you’ll find in an entertaining and informative piece about the company and Hatton, who is now its president and CEO, that appeared this week in The Birmingham News, home to Royal Cup.

Some interesting facts about Royal Cup that Hatton, a former member of W&L’s Board of Trustees. In that capacity, he chaired what he called the “Good News Committee,” aka the Development and External Relations Committee. In the interview, he reveals some interesting facts about Royal Cup. For one, the company roasts about 45 million pounds of coffee beans a year and is the leading supplier to the resort and lodging industries. If you’ve had coffee at Cracker Barrel or the Ritz-Carlton (or Cafe 77 in Elrod Commons, for that matter), you’ve had Royal Cup.

As Hatton relates the company’s history in the piece, his father, Billy Smith, and a group of investors bought the Batterton Coffee Co. in 1950, when it was in bankruptcy. In 1958, Royal Cup established a route service to restaurants and hotels and began selling to offices in 1968. Royal Cup is currently on track for $250 million in revenue in 2010.

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