The Creator of ‘Green Mountain Coffee’ Went to College in Iowa
Bob Stiller – an east coast native --- graduated with a bachelor of arts at Parsons College in Fairfield, Iowa, in 1968, and then attended law school in Florida. In 1972, he and his business partner, Burton Rubin, built a successful rolling-paper company called E-Z Wider. (a play on words from the Clint Eastwood movie “Easy Rider.”) He and his partner sold it in 1980, both receiving over three million dollars.
He then ended up in Vermont, had some amazing coffee at a ski resort in 1981, and knew what his next venture would be…coffee. He bought the company with the money that he had made from selling his rolling-paper business. He named his company “Green Mountain Coffee Roasters” – after the mountain range in Vermont, and it eventually became Vermont’s largest business with revenue in the billions.
Green Mountain Coffee eventually teamed up with Keurig – who invented the K-Cup --- which put Stiller on the path to making Forbes' list of billionaires in 2015. In 2020, Keurig Dr. Pepper generated $11.62 billion in annual sales.
So what happened to Parsons College?
It was founded in 1873 and had 34 students in its first year of operation. By 1966 there were over 5,000 students enrolled and the school had one of the highest-paid faculty in the U.S. But that same year Life magazine published an article criticizing the college and its president. Enrollment quickly declined, the college went millions of dollars in debt and went bankrupt in 1973. One year later the campus was purchased by Maharishi International University.