Quists Coffee was established in 1938 as Melbourne’s first coffee roaster.
A Danish gentleman by the name of Mr Quist started the company to service the coffee needs of an ever increasing European migrant community. Quists operated from the retail shop at 166 Little Collins Street where the coffee was also roasted on the premises.
Mr Quist, an elderly gentleman, eventually became too ill to operate the business and a trio of investors were located with the assistance of the Danish Consulate to take over the business. One of the trio, Mr C.J. Matthes, operated the business and eventually bought out his silent partners. In 1958 his son joined him in the business and they incorporated the company.
In 1960, Georges purchased the Little Collins Street building and planned to establish their hostess store. Quists had been advised that they may need to vacate due to this expansion by Georges. A factory was established in Little Latrobe Street from where the coffee was roasted and an additional shop was opened in Flinders Lane behind the Regent Theatre. Also in 1960, a new European immigrant, Fritz Niesen, was employed to roast the coffee and assist with the growing demands of the business. The forseen expansion of Georges in Little Collins Street had occurred however Quists were invited to remain in the building. Quists now operated two retail shops and the factory.
In December 1972, the roasting facility was transferred to a warehouse in Clifton Hill and the factory in Little Latrobe Street was sold.
When the new City Square project was developed in early 1972, the store in Flinders Lane needed to be vacated and a new shop was opened in the Hub Arcade. This shop not only sold coffee beans but also included a coffee bar where customers could enjoy a cup of coffee with a complimentary home-baked biscuit. At the time, this was a first for Melbourne as there were few places where people could drink a cup of coffee without accompanying food. The Hub Arcade store became very busy, very quickly with a huge lunch time crowd standing 6 deep at the counter.
The success of the Hub Arcade store instigated the opening of a third store in the newly completed and renovated City Square complex in 1979. The shop operated until the closure of the entire City Square complex for further development.
The success of the Hub Arcade store continued until it was sold to an outside business in 2003. During this period the Little Collins Street store was still thriving as a place to purchase freshly roasted coffee beans and had a strong, loyal clientele.
Fritz Niesen had been buying into the company over the years and in 1984 bought the remainder of the company outright. His daughter, Doris, had been working for Quists on a casual basis since 1976 and in 1989, Fritz’s son-in-law, Jim Baruta started working at Quists to roast the coffee and assist with the further growing demands of the business.
In 1994, Georges sold their Little Collins Street store and the building was developed into residential apartments and ground floor shops. Quists were allowed to remain during the development and a temporary shop was established adjacent to the original for the term of the project. In August 1995, Quists moved back next door to their newly renovated and modernised shop. Quists continue to trade successfully today in their original location.
In mid-2003 Quists relocated its factory from the warehouse in Clifton Hill to a new premise in Research. The new warehouse was custom built and a new coffee roasting plant was imported from Italy and installed and all other equipment modernised. The facility is now equipped with state-of-the-art roasting and packaging equipment to meet the needs of a growing market in retail, wholesale and contract and private label roasting.
Quists has been operated by the same family for over 50 years.