The company was set up by Ludwig Roselius, co-developer of the first commercial decaffeination process. Alfred Runge and Eduard Scotland designed iconic postersand packaging for the HAG Kaffee company. They are credited with designs that defined the company. The brand originated in Bremen in Germany in 1906 and took its name from the company title Kaffee Handels-Aktien-Gesellschaft, or Kaffee HAG for short. In the 1920s and 1930s Kaffee HAG was known for the publication of the Coffee Hag albums of heraldic emblems.
The coffee brand Sanka was later spun off from Kaffee HAG in 1910for the French market (“Sanka” is a contraction of the French words “sans caféine”) and U.S. rights to the Sanka name were sold in 1913.