Alfred Peet, entrepreneur and the founder of Peet's Coffee & Tea, who opened his first store in Berkeley over 40 years ago and is credited with spawning our insatiable appetite for gourmet coffee has died at his home in Ashland, Ore. He was 87.
He was born in Alkmaar, Holland in 1920 where
his father ran a coffee roastery business. After the Second World War, Peet left Europe and in 1955 immigrated to San Francisco working for E.A. Johnson & Co, importing coffee.
Peet set up his first shop in 1966, opening a small store in Berkeley at 2124 Vine Street, near the UC campus. To set himself and his coffee apart, he personally hand roasted high-quality beans, soon he opened new stores in Oakland and Menlo Park.
The founders of Starbucks, such as Jerry Baldwin, were among his early customers and
found their inspiration in Peet's business plan.
Early on, before Starbucks became the
gargantuan enterprise it is today, they purchased their roasted coffee from Peet’s, until Peet could no longer keep up with the supply demands of the chain.
After Alfred Peet retired in 1983, Baldwin and his partners purchased Peet's Coffee for $4 million.
I can’t emphasis how important a great cup of java is to me. Back in the old days, before internet time itself, whenever a friend of mine traveled up to the Bay Area, I would beg them to bring back a couple bags of Peet’s coffee.I salute you Alfred Peet! You've made my life richer!