In what could be the end of an aromatic era, one of the United States' oldest coffee merchants might have to pull the plug on its state-of-the-art roaster after the city fined it for polluting the air with coffee odors.
Brooklyn's 163 year-old Gillies Coffee Co. was cited this month for violating the air pollution control code in response to complaints lodged in June by a neighbor.
"We'll pay the fine of $400 by April 25 and then see if we'll appeal the decision," said Hy Chabbott, vice president and co-owner of Gillies.
While coffee lovers might argue otherwise, the Department of Environmental Protection ruled that "fugitive odors" from Gillies were unlawful air contaminants. The ruling, made on April 2 by Administrative Law Judge Phyllis J. Roberts, also said Gillies must operate its equipment without further emissions.
In 1991, Gillies installed a new roaster that was supposed to be smoke- and odor-free.
Gillies President "Donald Schoenholt is a leader in the field and has done extensive research and has determined that what the DEP wants -- not to smell coffee odors -- is physically impossible," Gillies attorney David Kanfer said.
Chabbott said that Gillies must either go out of business or find another location in which to operate.
"We have not been cited with any further violations. The DEP was at the factory on three other occasions. They had gotten complaints but found Gillies was in compliance," Chabbott said.
Gillies, which claims to be the United States' oldest coffee company, started in lower Manhattan in 1840 and employs 30 people, with annual sales of about $5 million.