Peet’s Coffee has a whole latte history before Starbucks

Sophie Smallhorn

The Bay Area is home to an overwhelming number of coffee enthusiasts, but few take the time to understand the bean’s local relevance. Before Equator, Philz, Blue Bottle or even Starbucks, there was Peet’s Coffee and Tea — a company founded in 1966 by Alfred Peet. Aghast by Americans’ unrefined craving for instant coffee, Peet introduced European beans and roasting methods to Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto, a landmark of the artisan coffee movement. To the surprise of many, Peet actually taught the Starbucks Coffee founders how to roast coffee. Despite the rise of new roasters and trendy drinks, Peet’s Coffee has maintained a loyal community of “Peetniks” who share an appetite for bold flavors. 

Eliot Jordan, Peet’s Tea Master, explains how the brand has evolved throughout his career of 38 years. Seniors Shannon Lafon and Shelby Karraker, Peet’s baristas, describe their experience with the work culture and values.