Sure I’m a Starbuck’s fan but I know there are many other fine coffees out there…some of them besting the green twin-tailed mermaid. One better known rival is Peet’s which opened their first cafe on the corner of Walnut and Vine Streets in Berkeley CA back in 1966. Named after founder Alfred Peet, an emigre from Holland who moved to America after World War II determined to change the deplorable state of coffee typically consumed by Americans. Remember, this was a time before baristas and espresso bars were commonplace outside of Europe. Emphasizing smaller batches, freshness, and superior quality beans was truly a radical approach yielding a darker roast and richer brew with character.
By the early 1970s, Peet’s further promoted a better ‘cup o’ joe’ for the masses by supplying their own roasted beans to Starbucks during their first years of operation. Fast forward to 2007 when Peet’s opened a new artisan roasting facility (insert video tour link) featuring a custom designed layout which supports hand-roasting small batches and fresh delivery within 24 hours. An impressive feat in our age of what would normally be freeze dried artificial expediency.
Today not only loyal customers but dedicated employees are known as “Peetniks”. An an example, their highly trained roasters master the beans at all stages from smelling the green coffee, monitoring air temperature and blending the beans to yield highly flavorful and distinctive brews…ones which they personally sample. Each roaster makes a 10-year commitment to Peet’s and is only considered an expert after three to four years of training. I recently had the distinct pleasure of sampling 2 of their new medium roast blends…perfect for the upcoming holidays:
Named after Peet’s third café on Domingo Avenue in Berkeley, this blend is crafted from 3 Latin American coffees with a mellow roast yielding hints of toffee sweetness and crisp non-aftertaste finish. This would be a perfect pairing with pumpkin pie or other desserts at the end of the meal.
Named after another of Peet’s cafes in Berkeley on Solano Avenue, this is truly a world blend marrying vibrant and aromatic beans from Africa, the Americas and the Indo-Pacific yielding a well-rounded cup with floral notes and a subtle fruit essence. I have already started reserving this blend for my first cup in the morning.
Photos courtesy of Steve Mirsky. Sampling made possible by participating in the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program in partnership with Peet’s Coffee.