Obituary: Robert McGarvey Jr., 71, coffee man

  • Article by: KAVITA KUMAR , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 16, 2001 - 10:00 PM

Robert McGarvey Jr. branched out into gourmet and specialty coffees before the coffee-shop craze took hold.

He liked his coffee dark and strong.

McGarvey, of Edina, former owner of McGarvey Coffee, the Minneapolis company his father founded in 1922, died Thursday at Abbott Northwestern Hospital from heart complications. He was 71.

Born and raised in Minneapolis, he began working part time for his father's company when he was 15, unloading green coffee and learning how to roast. He attended the University of Minnesota.

He became McGarvey Coffee's president in 1962 and its chief executive officer in 1985. Under his leadership, the company became one of the nation's largest regional coffee companies, with distribution in 11 states, and one of the first to offer specialty and gourmet brands.

By the mid-1980s, McGarvey Coffee was being used in 70 percent of restaurants in the Upper Midwest. said his son, Scott McGarvey, of Edina.

In 1991, Robert McGarvey sold the company to Sara Lee Corp. The next year he was elected an honorary member of the National Coffee Association.

Besides his son, survivors include his wife, Cynthia; daughters Susan Latta and Laura Jordahl, both of Edina, and eight grandchildren.

Services will be held at 7 p.m. Monday at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, 5051 Eden Av., Edina, with visitation from 5 to 7 p.m.

Kavita Kumar can be contacted at .

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