05 September 2007


When Alfred Peet opened his shop in Berkeley in April, 1966 he started a coffee revolution. Nobody had ever seen top-quality coffee like this roasted in this unique style in America. The corner of Walnut and Vine quickly became a gathering place for UC Berkeley grads, undergrads, and faculty as well as local intellectuals, radicals, writers, musicians, artisans and any number of the colorful people who still make up Berkeley today. Mr. Peet was born in Alkmaar, Holland on March 10, 1920 and died in Ashland, Oregon on August 29, 2007.

Mr. Peet was the originator behind the idea of a company many may be familiar with Starbucks. In fact he sold them their first year of coffee and taught the original owners what he knew about coffee.

He scoured the West Coast from Vancouver to Palo Alto looking for a suitable location for a high-quality coffee roastery before a friend told him that she knew the right place for him, right across the Bay in Berkeley. He installed a small roaster in the shop’s back room, and the revolution began.

As Peet’s in Berkeley flourished, Mr. Peet opened additional stores in Menlo Park (1971), on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland (1978), and another in Berkeley across from the Claremont Hotel (1980). By the time he retired in 1983, Peet’s had a cult following from coast to coast, and many of his devoted fans continue to insist on Peet’s.

In his own words, when asked to recount his life’s story, Alfred Peet responded simply,

“The coffee tells my story.”

I like that quote, his passion for his product reflected in his life & culture and it worked for him. The labor of love became his life story and in so doing he affected, taught and inspired those around him.


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