Our coffee-drinking experience wouldn’t be possible without Peet’s Coffee, but who owns Peet’s coffee and tea? Read on to find out about the coffee pioneer.
Peet’s Coffee and Tea may have lost its household name status across the globe, but it is undeniable that its contribution to the coffee industry shaped the way we enjoy a cup of Joe today. After all, Starbucks might not even exist today without the help of Peet’s Coffee’s founder.
JAB Holding Company has owned Peet’s Coffee and Tea since 2012, an acquisition that paved the way for them to become one of the largest branded coffee chains in the United States. While the company continues to impact the java world positively, much of this is thanks to Peet’s Coffee and Tea founder Alfred Peet.
Peet’s Calling For Coffee
Peet was first exposed to the world of coffee as early as his pre-teens. His father owned the B. Koorn & Company, a small coffee and tea business located in Holland, where the young Peet was tasked to tend and eventually learn how to operate the coffee roasting and grinding machines.
He went on to do an apprenticeship in London under Twinings before going to Indonesia to serve as a tea taster. This is where his love for coffee grew when he discovered how delicious their dark roast brew is; believe it or not; Twinings was once better known for coffee. He carried this newfound knowledge until he finally landed in San Francisco to establish his own coffee business.
If you are considering becoming a coffee entrepreneur yourself but are still trying to figure out where to look, you should check our guide on how to learn about the coffee business.
Transforming The American Way Of Coffee
When he opened his store in 1966, the American way of enjoying coffee had stagnated. The market was dominated by instant coffee that featured a strong, earthy flavor similar to what was rationed during the war. The old wartime drinking habits were still prevalent, as well.
When the United States started shipping out its troops, coffee was heavily rationed, so businesses and households alike came up with ways to stretch their cup of Joe. This is done either by adding mushroom or chicory to the soluble coffee or double dripping, which requires reusing the coffee beans that were just brewed. Some increased the volume of water in their brew, creating bland java.
This disappointing experience inspired Peet to come up with a sweet yet balanced cup of coffee by only using high-quality coffee beans that he himself ground and dark roasted. When he started, he was just armed with a 25-pound roaster and ten pounds of Colombian coffee beans before slowly expanding.
It was not until three years later that he created his first blend. The Major Dickason Blend, a dark roast boasting a robust flavor profile with notes of chocolate and spices, would also become his best-seller.
Expanding His Coffee Influence
His first coffee shop, which still runs today, is located in Berkley at the corner of Vine and Walnut Street. Its proximity to the University of California consequently turned it into a staple hangout place during the late 60s and throughout the 70s as part of the “Ghetto Gourmet,” a line of establishments where students could socialize and exchange ideas.
As the university also served as a central setting for the anti-Vietnam war movement, key artists and historical figures that visited the campus also attracted huge audiences that would visit the coffee shop from time to time.
During this time, three budding entrepreneurs, Jerry Baldwin, Gordon Bowker, and Zev Siegl, approached Peet to study the intricacies of the coffee business. With Peet’s blessing, the three ventured out to establish Starbucks with the help of their mentor in providing their first coffee beans to roast and brew.
While his original apprentices set out to establish the biggest coffee brand in the world, he continued to teach his ways to other coffee entrepreneurs. This included Jamie Anderson, who founded the famous Anderson’s Coffee in Austin, Texas, and George Howell, who established Coffee Connection in Boston and is widely regarded as the creator of the beloved frappuccino.
What Makes Peet’s Coffee So Great?
With the large number of successful coffeepreneurs coming from the same establishment, you have to wonder what Peet’s Coffee’s recipe for success is. It may have something to do with the way they treat their product.
The coffee beans they use are carefully sourced from partner farms, with some partnerships Peet formed himself decades ago. The beans are meticulously roasted by hand by roasters who have undergone years of apprenticeship and training.
The company also has a dedicated Cupping Lab, a place where experts scrupulously evaluate, analyze, and rate the batch of coffee beans from their physical qualities down to the flavor profiles and aftertastes. These processes are crucial as they can provide comprehensive feedback to farmers and millers if the yield needs improvement. If the coffee beans show promise, they are then sent to the roasting team and sensory specialists for further evaluation.
Market Expansion Of Peet’s Coffee
The establishment itself has also become influential in defining the coffee world. Award-winning java businesses such as Stumptown Coffee Roasters and Intelligentsia Coffee, which JAB Holding Company has recently acquired, were founded by former employees. It is no wonder these two brands have appeared on our list of the best espresso coffee brands.
The company continues to expand its influence in the tea industry by acquiring the Mighty Leaf Tea brand, a prominent premium tea manufacturer in the United States and Canada. You might be interested in our guide on the best US coffee brands. Peet’s Coffee is seeing a big resurgence recently, increasing its number of stores from 200 in 2021 to 338 across 20 states and territories in 2022.
This further solidifies its place as one of the largest branded coffee chain businesses in the country, with California currently housing almost 70% of all the stores.
Peet’s Coffee And Tea Products To Try
If you find yourself at a Peet’s Coffee shop and looking for a refreshing cup of Joe, I recommend going for their Nitro Cold Brew, which is brewed with East African Baridi coffee beans. It features interesting floral notes with bright citrus fruit and smokey chocolate undertones. For tea lovers, a matcha frappe made from authentic Japanese matcha green tea and blended with cold milk usually hits the spot.
Some coffee and tea lovers might opt to brew their drinks themselves. Peet’s is best known for its dark roasts, so I will still recommend the bold flavor of its Major Dickason’s Blend.
- Contains one (1) 18 Ounce Bag of Peet's Major Dickason's Blend Whole Bean 100% Arabica Coffee
- Flavor and Roast: Dark Roast. Flavorful, robust, full-bodied. Developed by Mr. Peet and his most discerning customer, Major Dickason’s Blend epitomizes the rich, flavorful taste of Peet’s
- Brewing Methods: Use fine ground coffee for espresso at home. Coarsely ground coffee (consistency of coarse sea salt) can be used to make cold brew or a French press. Use a medium grind (consistency of sand) for drip or a pour over in your Chemex
- Sourcing With Impact: The coffee you buy can impact the welfare of the people and planet. Peet’s is actively engaged in driving positive impact in communities where our coffees are grown.
- Rich. Complex. Incomparable. Masters of our craft for over 50 years, we hand roast the very best coffees in the world.
Another dark roast option would be their French Roast Signature Blend which will give you a medium-bodied cup of Joe with deep notes of dark chocolate and a pleasant hint of rich caramel. Both blends come in whole bean or ground.
- FRENCH ROAST: The rich coffee character of French Roast comes from a longer, hotter roast, which not all beans can handle and only Peet’s has perfected. Flavor notes: Coffee-forward, wood smoke, and burnt caramel
- OBSESSED WITH FRESH: From the beginning, Peet's Coffee has roasted the best coffee beans we can find with quality in mind. We also care for the communities that grow & harvest those beans, because coffee is better when it is grown & sourced responsibility
- BREW LIKE THE BEST: Brewing the best cup of coffee starts with finding your favorite roast or blend. Whole beans or ground coffee, dark, medium or light, single origin or a blend? Try a variety & find the best brew for the morning mug or afternoon pickup
- LIGHT, MEDIUM & DARK ROAST: Brew a pot of Peet's ground or whole bean coffee in a blend & roast perfect for your tastes. Light roast coffees are mild & smooth, medium roast coffees are smooth & aromatic, while dark roast coffees are smoky & full bodied
If you are considering a whole-leaf tea option, I suggest Peet’s Coffee’s Mighty Leaf Organic Earl Gray. The cuppa boasts a slightly high caffeine level and features a toasty and bright citrus fruit flavor that gives a satisfying bittersweet aftertaste.
- One box contains 15 individually-wrapped pyramid pouches filled with Organic Black Tea Leaves and Organic Bergamot Oil
- Certified Organic, Vegan, Gluten Free and Kosher
- A rich black tea with gold-tipped buds and a citrus twist of first-press bergamot oil, made with the highest grade whole leaf teas for the fullest flavor.
- Large, silken pyramid pouches provide room for the whole leaves, blossoms, fruits and herbs to open, expand and express their unique characters.