Our Heritage


In 1753, Egbert Douwes and his wife Akke Thysses began selling coffee, tea and tobacco from their small shop, ’De Witte O’s (literally’The White Ox’), in Joure, the Netherlands. Egbert Douwes is the founder of the company which became nationally and internationally known under the name of his son Douwe Egberts, who joined the business around 1780. The latter’s success can be put attributed the fact that, whilst in his small shop Egbert Douwes only sold to the local villagers, Douwe Egberts built up a (regional) reputation by also supplying shop owners elsewhere. In 1919 Douwe Egberts goes from local to national with an establishment on the Catherijnekade in Utrecht


The original shop was called The White Ox – De Witte Os, in Dutch – but the family renamed the company Douwe Egberts as its trade in coffee and tea expanded, along with its reputation. As the business developed, its headquarters were moved to Utrecht, and in 1920, the iconic Douwe Egberts seal – now incorporated into the company’s logo – was introduced.


Our story began in a small village in the Netherlands in the year 1753 - around the same time that coffee houses were becoming popular places to meet to discuss the important topics of the day. Egbert Douwes opened a grocery store in Joure, selling mostly coffee, tea and tobacco. He decided, like other merchants at the time, that Joure’s easy access to the waterways would allow trade to flourish, and he was right.


In 1978 Douwe Egberts was acquired by Sara Lee. Until 2011 when Sara Lee announced the separation of its International Coffee and Tea business.


Douwe Egberts’ experience in blending various types of tea dates back to 1753. That was the year that Egbert Douwes started to sell coffee, tea and tobacco (products that belong to the ‘joys of daily life’) in his shop ‘De Witte Os’ (The White Ox) on the Midstraat, Joure, The Netherlands. 

Until April 1937, tea was marketed under the name Douwe Egberts. Around that time they were looking for an English name. The wife of the then director, Johannes Hessel de Jong, was a tea lover but she was also really taken by the works of the British author Charles Dickens. After she had read Dickens’ ‘Pickwick Papers’, she proposed the name Pickwick. Since then, this brand name has been used to market tea.


In 2001 the Senseo coffee sytem is launched. From that year Douwe Egberts has been bringing people quality coffee. Our expertise and passion combined with the innovative minds of PHILIPS® to enhance the coffee drinking experience in everything from preparation to serving.


In 1978, Douwe Egberts was acquired by Sara Lee, and as part of this global food and beverage organisation, the company moved into new markets. Innovation drove the business forward, and in 1998 the organisation expanded into Brazil. The Out of Home business also expanded rapidly during the 1990s, with the Cafitesse liquid coffee system becoming widely popular in offices, health care organisations, hotels and other public buildings. 

In 2011, it was decided to separate the international coffee and tea business from the Sara Lee organisation, and in June 2012, the new company, with a name that links our past to our future, was listed on NYSE Euronext - D.E MASTER BLENDERS 1753.