Coffee group loyal to East End, company says

The old Maxwell House plant on Harrisburg has long been an East End landmark, but for Carlos de Aldecoa, it represents something grander.

“I would consider it to be the Taj Mahal of coffee plants,” the president of Maximus Coffee Group and Cadeco Industries told members of the Houston East End Chamber of Commerce at their luncheon on Wednesday.

“It would have been a shame had Kraft decided to shut this plant down, so we felt we had to really stand up,” said de Aldecoa, recalling Maximus’ decision to buy the plant from Kraft Foods Inc., which owns Maxwell House, last December.

The historic facility started life in 1907 as a Model-T Ford manufacturing plant before Maxwell House bought it in the 1940s and converted it to coffee roasting, decaffeination and other food processing operations, de Aldecoa said.

In recent years, the U.S. coffee consumer market has drifted away from “mainstream” brands, “putting a lot of pressure on” brands like Maxwell House, he said.

When Kraft announced it was looking for a buyer, Maximus saw a “tremendous opportunity,” he said.