Our story

Three Kings has its origin in Kerkrade, a city in the south of the Netherlands. The concept of the brand came from the founder René Schönefeld, son of a pharmacist. One day, he came across a recipe for church incense, which motivated René to set out and explore the various sources of incense in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Meanwhile, he looked for reliable suppliers with whom he could partner for his enterprise, Three Kings. On his return, René started producing colourful and unique incense mixtures, which he sold all over Europe. Soon after, he was the first to develop quick-lighting charcoal – which drew the interest of European religions, Middle Eastern bakhoor users and shisha smokers. The rest, as they say, is history.

Nowadays, the product lines from Three Kings have separate brand identities. The charcoal will remain under the name of Three Kings, while incense and natural resins will continue under a new brand name. Since 2021, the unique incense blends and natural resins are sold under the brand name René Schönefeld.

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Founders and owners

Three Kings was founded by René Schönefeld in 1936. In 1970, Leo Heijmans, who joined the company in 1945, took over the company and sold the business to the Koster family thirteen years later. The Koster family was well-known for their beeswax refinery Koster Keunen, which has been established in 1852. Both companies had a loyal group of customers in the religious supply chain, so selling the company to the Koster family seemed like a logical choice.

After the takeover, the Koster family built a larger, more modern factory in the Dutch town of Bladel. To this day, René Schönefeld remains in the hands of the Koster family, with Gerben Boersma at the head of the company.

Our people


Three Kings charcoal is made of European, 100% untreated natural beech wood leftovers from sustainable forestry. We are also part of the global Incense Alliance, guaranteeing sustainable use of incense trees in Eastern Africa. There are many challenges threatening the supply of incense, such as overharvesting, climate change and political instability. To combat these challenges, René Schönefeld plays an active and leading role in protecting incense trees.

Our ingredients
Frankincense trees in Tigray Ethiopia | Picture by: P Groenendijk