Alfred Peet

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Alfred Peet
Alfred Peet.jpg
Peet in the late 1960s at the original Peet's location
Born (1920-03-10)March 10, 1920
Alkmaar, The Netherlands
Died August 29, 2007(2007-08-29) (aged 87)
Ashland, Oregon, U.S.
Occupation Founder of Peet's Coffee & Tea

Alfred H. Peet (March 10, 1920 – August 29, 2007) was a Dutch-American entrepreneur and the founder of Peet's Coffee & Tea in Berkeley, California, in 1966. He is most famous for introducing custom coffee roasting to the United States using top quality beans at a time when Americans were typically drinking coffee that came out of a can.[clarification needed][1] Peet taught his style of roasting beans to Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl and Gordon Bowker, who took the technique to Seattle and founded Starbucks in 1971. Peet is widely credited with starting the specialty coffee revolution in the US. Among coffee historians, Peet is labeled as "the Dutchman who taught America how to drink coffee."[2]

Life and career

Peet was born in Alkmaar, The Netherlands, where his father ran a small coffee roastery before World War II.[3] After the war, Peet left London, where he had apprenticed with a coffee and tea company, and worked as a tea taster in the Dutch East Indies and New Zealand before emigrating to San Francisco, California, in 1955, where he worked in the coffee importing industry.[4][5]

After becoming dismayed at the poor quality of coffee in the United States (according to Peet, the reason that the quality of coffee was so bad in the USA is that people were still drinking World War II style "rationed" coffee),[2] he opened his own coffee store in Berkeley, California, in 1966. Although often encouraged to expand the business, he remained stalwart in keeping the single location at Walnut and Vine and zealously guarding the quality of the coffee bearing his name.

Peet sold the business in 1979 to Sal Bonavita and remained a mentor and teacher to Sal for the next five years. Bonavita soon opened new stores in Oakland, Mill Valley and Menlo Park.[6]

An interview with Alfred Peet is included in the documentary "Coffee Culture USA" released in 2008.

After retiring from the coffee business, Peet moved in 2001 to Ashland, Oregon, where he died on August 29, 2007, at age 87.[7][8]

See also


  1. ^ Alfred H. Peet, 87, Dies; Leader of a Coffee Revolution, by Carolyn Marshall, September 3, 2007
  2. ^ a b "Nederlander leerde Amerika koffie drinken". NOS Nieuws. 2007-09-04. Archived from the original on 29 September 2012. Retrieved 9 October 2016. (in Dutch).
  3. ^ "Coffee pioneer Peet dies". Central Valley Business Times. 31 August 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-08-31.
  4. ^ Murphy, Pat (August 31, 2007). "The passing of Al Peet—the founder of Peet's Coffee". San Francisco Sentinel. Archived from the original on 2 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-31.
  5. ^ Stiles, Greg (2003-06-01). "Peet now calls Medford his home". Mail-Tribune. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-31.
  6. ^ George Raine (2007-09-01). "Coffee pioneer Alfred Peet dies". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-09-01.
  7. ^ Marshall, Carolyn; Severson, Kim (2007-09-03). "Alfred H. Peet, 87, Dies; Leader of a Coffee Revolution". New York Times. p. B5. Retrieved 5 October 2016.
  8. ^ "Founder of Peet's Coffee dies at home in Ashland". The Oregonian. 2007-08-31. Archived from the original on 17 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-31.

External links

  • Alfred Peet Memorial (short YouTube video by Peet's Coffee and Tea, posted Mar 4, 2008)
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