Longtime Dilworth residents, Don and Alyene Keen brought fresh, locally roasted coffees to the Charlotte area in November 1989 when Dilworth Coffee, Charlotte’s original specialty coffee house, opened in the historic neighborhood. The Keen’s passion was to provide exceptional tasting coffees by sourcing the finest beans in the world and small batch roasting to highlight each coffee’s natural flavor, as well as ensure unparalleled quality and freshness. Today, Dilworth Coffee is Charlotte’s oldest specialty coffee brand, and Stockton Graham & Co. is proud to uphold this long-standing Charlotte coffee tradition.
From traveling abroad for many years and enjoying some of the world’s best coffees, Don Keen recognized a need for better quality coffee in the United States. Opening in the historic Dilworth neighborhood of Charlotte, NC there is no wonder where he established the name, but the foundation for roasting came directly from Milan Italy. Don and Alyene Keen opened the first Dilworth Coffeehouse in November 1989. Brass bins full of freshly roasted coffee and an Italian espresso machine set the Keens up for establishing the specialty coffee culture in Charlotte.
An experimental roasting process at first, the Keens developed a custom “Dilworth Coffeehouse” style of coffee. So well received by the Charlotte community, they began selling to other shops and opening other locations. After opening their second Dilworth Coffeehouse, roasting was moved to a separate and larger location, so freshly roasted coffee could be shipped out to the stores each morning. Working with a small batch coffee roaster and focusing on roasting only the highest quality coffees, Dilworth continued to grow and prosper, including establishing licensed stores around the greater Charlotte area.
In 1994 Jeff Vojta co-founder of Classic Coffees in Raleigh NC was serving some of Dilworth’s coffees. Inspired by Keen and his delicious roasts, Vojta began roasting his own coffees in shop. Classic Coffees became popular in the Raleigh area, eventually so much so that Classic Coffees sold their retail operation and began to focus on roasting and wholesale distributing. Stockton Graham & Co. was formed from this spinoff, and began distributing their coffees all around the Southeast United States.
By the early 2000’s there were more than a dozen Dilworth Coffee houses operating and purchasing their coffees under the Dilworth name. Keen, who retired in 2009, reached out to old friend Jeff Vojta, in December 2010 to sell the roasting and wholesale operations of Dilworth Coffee to Stockton Graham & Co. Merging the roasting into a business modeled after itself, enabled the Dilworth legacy to continue. Vojta was excited for the opportunity to continue the Dilworth history that he had so long admired.
While the licensee program for Dilworth Coffees is still managed by Keen, the specialty coffee roasting and distribution are supplied by Stockton Graham & Co. Having very similar products, lines, processes and customer service, merging into the Stockton Graham & Co. family has been a win-win to build, grow and maintain the Dilworth Coffee brand, not only in Charlotte but in new markets as well.
Today, you can still expect the same high quality roasting and flavor from Dilworth Coffee as always. Still North Carolina-based and freshly roasted, Stockton Graham & Co. is proud to uphold the tradition of Dilworth Coffee, the longest standing specialty coffee brand in Charlotte. Contact us at 800.835.5943 to find out how our fresh roasted coffees can enhance your coffee program!