When many coffee lovers think about coffee chains, they only think about the likes of Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts. Starbucks, being the largest coffee chain in the world, is the most talked about coffee chain. However, before Starbucks, K-Cups, and Dunkin’ Donuts among others came into being, there was a coffee store known as Peet’s Coffee.
Peet’s Coffee is renowned for having started the specialty coffee industry in America. The coffee joint was started in 1966 and is located in California, U.S. It was started by Alfred Peet, who was a Dutch immigrant to the United States. Peet’s served a new kind of coffee brewed from freshly dark-roasted beans. Its brewing style is what Starbucks uses today.
Despite being one of the oldest coffee joints in the U.S, it remains a successful chain today, despite not having expanded its stores like Starbucks. Regardless, Peet’s Coffee has about 240 locations across the U.S. Also, its legacy is talked about worldwide for its contribution to the specialty coffee drank today. So who owns Petes Coffee and how did its founder change how we understand and appreciate coffee today? Read on to learn more.
How Peet’s Coffee Was Founded
Alfred Peet, the founder of Peet’s Coffee felt that American Coffee sucked. When Peet arrived in America in 1955, he felt that the coffee served in most cafes and restaurants was of poor quality. Peet was accustomed to the European coffee culture. He grew up in the Netherlands and had been trained by his father to roast and grind coffee. His father owned and run a coffee bean grindery and coffee wholesale store.
When Peet first tasted American coffee, he was shocked by its poor quality. He wondered how the richest and most powerful country in the world had the lousiest coffee. He found it unspeakable for Americans to brag about drinking multiple cups of coffee daily, which Peet found low-quality and watery.
Peet argued that American coffee was horrible mainly due to coffee rationing during WWII. Also, the war saw the innovation of instant coffee. Thus, many Americans opted for the convenience of instant coffee rather than coffee brewed from fresh beans.
Peet was determined to change the quality of coffee. He started by importing coffee beans. He would roast the beans by hand like how he had learnt while growing up. His dark-roasted beans tasted different from the watery coffee served in most cafes and restaurants. As a result, his coffee business took off within a short period.
How Pete Inspired Starbucks
Peet open the first Peet’s Coffee joint in 1966. At that time, he only sold roasted coffee beans. His beans tasted different than the majority of the beans on the market back them. Eventually, three friends took note of his beans. These three friends decided to open a coffee shop in Seattle, which is the now popular Starbucks.
Before opening their coffee joint, the three friends needed to understand the coffee business. As a result, they sacrificed to work for Pete over the 1970 Christmas. Peet taught them everything he knew about coffee such as sourcing the best coffee beans and roasting the beans. Consequently, the three friends (Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegel, and Gordon Bowker) became close with Peet, to an extent of Peet treating them as his sons.
When the three friends opened the first Starbucks in 1971, Peet allowed them to copy his store’s design. Starbucks started by selling Peet’s roasted coffee beans until they bought their first coffee roaster. Starbucks started selling brewed coffee years later.
How Peet Invented the Specialty Coffee Industry in America
Alfred Pete is renowned for starting the craft coffee revolution. He taught Americans and the world to drink high-quality coffee. His experience working in the tea and coffee industry in Java, Indonesia and his experience in Europe helped him change American coffee.
Initially, not everyone loved Peet’s coffee. Some Americans felt it was stronger than what they were used to. He sold freshly roasted beans in his store and had a coffee bar in which potential customers were allowed to taste his brews before buying coffee beans.
He trained his employees to cup coffee like how wine tasters smell, taste, and judge wine based on several factors. Eventually, American coffee improved in quality as more coffee lovers now sip and sniff coffee while trying out different coffees.
Who Owns Petes Coffee Today?
Peet’s coffee was founded in Berkeley, California, and is headquartered in Emeryville, California. Today, Peet’s Coffee is owned by JAB Holding Company through JDE Peet’s. Jacobs Douwe Egberts (owned by JAB Holding) merged with Peet’s Coffee to become JDE Peet’s. JAB Holding Company is a German conglomerate that has stakes in companies dealing with fast food, coffee, consumer goods, animal health, luxury fashion, and forestry among other investments.
When Alfred Peet died in 2007 (aged 87), he was eulogized as the founding father of specialty coffee in America. He helped American consumers appreciate coffee brewed from freshly roasted beans. He was committed to only using top-quality beans and a roasting technique that resulted in a sweet, even, dark roast. Today, the original Peet’s Coffee shop still exists in Berkeley. It is a staple for specialty coffee lovers in its neighborhood. Locals, professors, and students continue walking through its doors to date.