Peet in the late 1960s at the original Peet's location
March 10, 1920|
Alkmaar, The Netherlands
|Died||August 29, 2007
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.
Peet was born in Alkmaar, The Netherlands, where his father ran a small coffee roastery before World War II. 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.
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 ), he opened his own coffee store in Berkeley, California, in 1966, and soon opened new stores in Oakland, Mill Valley and Menlo Park.
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."
Peet sold the business in 1979 to Sal Bonavita and remained a mentor and teacher to Sal for the next five years.
An interview with Alfred Peet is included in the documentary "Coffee Culture USA" released in 2008.
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