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August 18, 2004

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Ben Casnocha

It would be great if Peet's got Wi-Fi, because their hot chocolate is so much better than Starbucks.

LNJ

Really? I go to Peet's in Palo Alo, CA and San Jose, CA and I find the employees friendly and a hell of a lot more knowledgable than *$ employees.

david

I've found a coffee shop in Stamford, ct with free WiFi right across the street from a *$s. The staff is friendly, they play Jobim on the sound system and the coffee is cheaper. But it's usually empty even when there's a line at *$s.

People are stupid I guess.

Conspir8or

IIRC, Henry Rollins is big on Peet's. I can't argue with a guy who could probably scream the skin off my skull.

Ali Karim Bey

I LOVE Starbucks. Why? It is fast service. The coffee is strong and bold. And piping hot.

I have yet to find any coffee shop that beats Starbucks when it comes to service.

Ali Karim Bey

penny

I go to Peets in Palo Alto. I'm surprised to read the employees, "don't even bother to disguise their hostility"

????

I've always been treated very well at Peets. The people remember what I like to drink and they're nice to the dog.

The folks at Starbucks are nice enough, but there are dead flies in the pastry case (usually)

PigDog

It's been awhile sense i've been to a peet's, none in my area, but I agree about the services. I do like their coffee! I like Starbucks and all, but still think their roast is a little on the burnt side. But they do know how to make their expresso based drinks, unlike most 'indy' coffee places I've been too.

Lenore

[Dirty imperative verb] Starbucks. Locally, I always prefer independent businesses.

When traveling - as someone who's more interested in COFFEE than a "coffeehouse experience" - I vote for Peet's over *$$ every time.

kellan

Peet's might not be getting wifi any time soon, but it seems like most of the excellent independent coffee shops I encounter these days already have it.

In traditionally coffee/tech friendly cities like Seattle or San Francisco it can be difficult to find a coffee shop without free wireless -- unless you visit one of the mega-chains.

And PigDog you're just going to the wrong 'indy' places, the real coffee lovers don't work at Starbucks.

LNJ

As for 'indy' cafes... that is where I got my start, learned coffee, learn roasting, etc. *$ roast is on the burnt side, even in the "light" coffees. When NOT at Peet's I am at my local 'indy' shoppe, where I know everyone's name, don't hesitate to complain when I get a bad drink, and I am treated well. I have been in *$ where I have had the WRONG drink made after being given the wrong change and all the manager did was offer up a free cookie. If I wanted a cookie, I would have order it, I want the right drink made by people who actually KNOW and CARE about coffee.

Another rant is Kona coffee! *$ across the nation sell "Pure 100%" Kona blend. Really *$? Do you know that there isn't enough Kona grown every year for you to sell this in your stores? If it is a blend, then what is it blended with and why the cost? In 95% of the cases, Kona coffee is nothing better than Columbian, which is $8.00-$11.00 a lb, but put the name Kona on it and you can sell it for $50.00. Someone else smell rat?

Aaron

Lance Armstrong is also a certified Peet's man. In the worshipful OLN series "The Lance Chronicles," he's seen unpacking his drip coffeemaker and special Peet's brew at every stop. (If you have hi-def, one of the HDTV channels, maybe INHD, is showing "Chronicles." Maybe someone can freeze-frame and catch the name of the bean.)

vitpil

Lance drinks Major Dickason's blend. And Peet's is without a doubt superior to Starbucks. I've only been to the shop in Evanston once so I can't comment, but I've been to the one on Sheffield a number of times and have always enjoyed pleasant service.

fredlet

They both have their merits. I prefer Starbuck's espresso, but Peet's plain coffee tastes better to me.
There's room for both.
Now, Pepsi vs. Cocal Cola is an easy one... Pepsi has to go.

PercyStranger

Peet's does have great coffee. It is the grandfather of Starbucks. Peet's was started by Alfed Peet in Northern California. Two college students fell in love with coffee by going to his shop. They moved to Seattle and started Starbucks in 1971. When Al offered up his five stores, Starbucks acquired Peet's coffee. At the time each chain consisted of five stores. When it became too difficult to take care of both fledling companies, the two friends decided to keep Peet's and sell Starbucks. Their former marketing guy (Schultz), who was trying to start his own coffee chain called Il Giornale, jumped at the chance to buy Starbucks. He turned it into a place that had an espresso bar, the two guys never had let him when he worked for them. Those two college buds still own Peet's today. Any success that has come to Peet's chain is because they finally put an espresso bar in their stores. The two companies are intertwined in history. Why doesn't Peet's want to grow bigger? I don't know. As far as Starbucks coffee being burnt.....Peet's owners taught them how to do it.

daoudmac

I agree with the stuffy atmosphere at Peets. I once walked into the one on Market near the Castro in San Francisco. I had my laptop with me and wanted to do some quick work and have a coffee but needed an internet connection. I asked the man if they had internet service at the location. When he was done sneering at me for being a capitalist pig I chose to serve him the question of where is the nearest Starbucks. You would have thought I had raped and pillaged his village. His reaction was startling for what I considered an adult not to mention I was almost skinned and gutted by the others within earshot of my question. Then I remembered that the few times I had been to other Peets locations I had gotten very rude service and this holier than thou attitude from the people there.

Chris Stefan

Another "chain" to try is Tully's I generally prefer them over Starbucks (quicker service, better coffee). Sadly they only appear to have stores in the Seattle metro area, Portland OR, Bay Area, and LA.

Not sure if they have Wi-Fi but they're probably open to the suggestion.

Brad Lukies

Starbucks is over-roasted CR@P. I'll take Peet's Major Dickenson every time. Wi-Fi would be nice but hey, I go to Peets for REAL COFFEE. The folks at the Evanston store BTW are the BEST. I'm leaving the area tomorrow and it's going to be sad to say goodbye. Try ordering a Flat White at Starbucks and see if they have even just a clue what you want...! Ha!

Suebob

I have found the Peet's employees to be really knowledgeable and nice - they even remember my name.

I also think Peet's coffee is 1000x better than Starbucks.

Wi Fi would be cool, but I wouldn't use it unless it was free. I think it is pretty bogus that they charge for it.

Holly

I think we definitely need a Peets in Texas!!!

I used to spend my summers in Palo Alto, I couldn't remember if I liked Peets or not...but I finally remembered :)

Someone open one up in Southeast Texas, please!

Julie

Could not disagree more about the Peet's in Evanston. The staff there is fantastic. In particular, Aisha from Turkey stood out as a very friendly person, we'll all miss her! The Starbucks in Evanston are fine, nothing spectactular, but Peet's has it all, good coffee, good staff, good location, and good views.

Brad Lukies

See my post below from 24 April. OK so now I've been in Houston for several months and I have two comments: 1) The *$ at Westheimer and Post Oak is a filthy pig sty and should be bulldozed. 2) PEETS - P L E A S E - open a store in Houston!!!

Eric Mummert

You've got be kidding me! I think the only people who complain that they feel "Peet's employees feel they're too good to be working in a coffee shop" are the people who come in trying to shade the taste of their coffee with innumerable ways(sweetening, etc.). Peet's is still a coffee company. Ever notice, S$ now uses their automatic, no-need-to-watch-the-shot espresso machines, while Peet's uses the traditional, manual, you've-got-to-pay-aatention-to-the-
consistency-of-the-shot-because-it-
matters-to-the-drink machines? I have a good friend from Italy who will NEVER enter a S$ for precisely that reason: quality, not quantity, still matters.

Pangloss

My experience with service at Peet's and Starbuck's has been exactly the opposite of what you describe here. I shop regularly at the Peet's stores in San Francisco (West Portal and Mission & 2nd), and occasionally have to go to one of the fifteen or so Starbuck's in SOMA. Uniformly, the Peet's employees are polite, competent, and knowledgeable. They know how to make a decent cup of coffee or an espresso drink. They handle complaints well.

By contrast, the Starbucks' are staffed by the same minimum-wage, high-turnover cadre that works at all the fast-food chains. They frequently screw up drinks and orders, they're rushed and unresponsive, and they often don't even speak English particularly well. I've also found that a Starbuck's latte has too little actual coffee flavor: you have to add a shot just to kick it up to acceptable.

On a related note, I'm irritated by the fact that the Starbucks menu seems more and more dominated by drinks that don't actually have any coffee in them (e.g., Vanilla Creme). Now I can understand that there's probably a much bigger market in America for sweetened milk drinks than for premium coffee, and the profit margins on it are doubtless much higher. There's nothing wrong with that: they're not in business for their health, after all. But when you consider that the Starbuck's chain made it a point of locating their franchises specifically to drive existing independent espresso shops out of business and steal their clientele, it's particularly galling to see them moving away from selling actual coffee. It's basically bait and switch.

Oh, Pangloss. Where to start.

1. Starbucks doesn't franchise. It isn't a "chain."

2. Starbucks has one of the lowest (if not *the* lowest)lowest turnover rates in the foodservice industry, likely because they're one of the few in that market segment offering health benefits to anyone working at least 20 hours a week. Based on my own personal knowledge of Starbucks employees, I find your claim of bumbling staff who don't speak English possible, but improbable.

3. Starbucks locates its stores where they believe they'll make money. If you read through the archives here, you'll find more than a few posts from the Webmaster about cafes that are thriving, even with Starbucks nearby. You'll even find more than a few posts from independent cafe proprietors in these pages saying the same thing. Businesses that give their customers what they want stay in business.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but this isn't a basher's haven. Perhaps ihatestarbucks.com is more your style?

Craig

I have been to Peet's in Chicago, Evanston, the original in Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. I have never received anything but the best service. The employees are always friendly and courteous and the coffee excellent. Wherever I go I look for Peet's. While I have no real hostility to Starbucks, I would just as soon drink theirs as Seattle's Best or Coffee Bean.
btw: Another fine establishment in Chicago is Intelligentsia on Broadway nr Belmont

-m

Two of my best baristas are ex Peets employees.

You may not know it from reading this message board, but Peets and Starbucks have always had a pretty good relationship. The employees at Peets always have a great level of passion and knowledge for their product. They are the perfect compitition...keeps us on our toes.

Enid

I have found Starbuck's attitude has mellowed. Back in the 80's there was this borderline surliness. I don't know if they were mad at me for ordering drip coffee or just having a hard time interacting with the overcast in Seattle. But lately things have changed. Perhaps Howard Shultze gave a seminar on how the customer makes possible their paycheck. Now I find some very nice baristas for the most part. I am not a latte drinker. Maybe two or three a year just to stay in touch and releive my fears of not being trendy and so Seattle. Actually prefer Tullys or Peets not to mention a plethora of independent coffee places for good black coffee.

Brian

peet's has wi-fi, or atleast the one in dt walnut creek does, service is usually okay, but the holier than though aura still seems present. as for the ass who talked about starbucks partners not being able to speak english, i guess they're just ignorant.

steve

I am a peets customer and we DON"T WANT wifi...we want good coffee...something I rarely get at *$$.

MADURO

Peets Rocks!!!....I have managed their stores and worked for them for over seven years. Why No Wi Fi? Marketing just hasn't gotten there yet. Peets is growing at 25% a year and they currently have 108 stores and counting. They went public about five years ago and their stock went from 8.00 a share to 29.00 a share in that time. They are the only company their size that sells beans only 10 days from the roast date. If you mail order, they roast the beans to order. Currently they are building a new roasting plant in Almeda ( I probably didn't spell that right). They currently at capacity in Emeryville. I just think Peets is focused on different things right now. WiFi is fairly ubquitous, so you can usually piggy back. The real question is...why isn't the US more like Japan with whole WiFi cities?

Sandy

I work at Peet's and I can tell you, I'm am very friendly to our customers. It's easy to be nice when the coffee you're serving is so much better than everyone else's.

I used to work for peet's. it's a great company, and has all of the same benes as starbucks. (actually, it used to have way better benes, but when they went public a few years back they did some research and adjusted it to be just the same as starbucks- i.e. no more paid holiday whether you work or not)

peets employees are trained to be coffee snobs, they are told that their coffee is the best (and it certainly is, of corporate coffees) and they are given a lot of knowledge of coffees and teas. there is (or at least was when I was there) a "tasting of the week" that every employee was supposed to complete ever week to develop their palate and knowledge of the product.

peets employees seem smug because they realize they know more about coffee than you when you come in and order your "venti caramel macchiato with 8 pumps of vanilla and extra caramel"

Buzz

(Virtually) everyone at the Peet's in Lexington, MA, is friendly and the manager knows my whole family by name. It's a very popular place to hang (often every available seat taken). Starbucks and Peet's seem to be thriving in our small town, even though they're only three doors away from each other.

Persnickety

Order a cappucino from Starbucks....then go over to Peets and order a cappucino. Now you can blame Starbucks for wasting your time, and polluting the planet with paper cups and diluted floor blend coffee. Peets and Starbucks are not even in competition or battling each other. Starbucks has now become a chain of convienence, and Peets is a High end coffee company. Depsite the origin of both companies, it is what the company is doing for you. You want a 7-11..oops i mean Starbucks, or do you want a gourmet cup of coffee?

mary

I've been a Peet's customer since the early eighties. I don't tend to need wi-fi, I know where Nomad cafe is in Oakland if I have to have it and there's wifi at my house, at least, if not scattered all around the place otherwise.

Maybe the snotty Peet's employee issue is a Chicago thing, and the managers thereout (if not the corporate office in the bay area) should be informed. I just tried out a brand new Peet's out here in the SF bay area and was pleased to see the employees were just as nice as ever, very friendly. And they're much more clueful about what they're selling.

Peet's is growing hand-over-fist, out here. When Starbucks non-competition agreement wore off and they entered the local market, Peet's got a big wake-up, and have recently opened a bunch of new stores (and yes, added caramel, and frozen drinks). I keep thinking their quality will plunge, but it hasn't yet.

My favorite thing about Peet's? I can order just plain coffee and get a great beverage. I don't need to cover up the over-roasting with caramel or chocolate.

Anne

Great rant about Kona coffee... glad to see someone else can read beyond the starbucks label. The FDA law states that a product that claims to be a "Kona Blend" is only required to be 10% Kona, so when we are paying 50-80% more for our Kona we're actually only getting 10% of the product. Silly consumers aren't we!!

Anne

here's more on Kona...

"During the previous year and after the fall out of the Kona Kai Farms scandal a small minority of Kona coffee purists launched a class action law suit against several mainland coffee companies who allegedly purchased fraudulent Kona coffee from Kona Kai Farms. The suit targeted several faithful and long time customers and roasters of 100% Kona coffee who were unsuspecting victims of Kona Kai's ploys.

Starbucks who purchased a minimal amount of this fraudulent coffee immediately paid a claim of fifteen thousand dollars and vowed to never again buy Kona. Needless to say this law suit has had a devastating effect of potential customers of 100% Kona coffee and has made matters even worse for those local mills trying to sell their high priced 100% Kona coffee. Many local mills who have worked hard over the years to promote and sell only 100% Kona coffee have seen their customer bases dwindle thanks to the witch hunt of a few small farms and a band of lawyers that this magazine very regretfully helped to introduce to these farmers."

Visit: http://www.coffeetimes.com/downfall.htm

Marybeth

Peet's folks in Evanston are way better than Starbucks employees who tend to be over their head. Plus Starbucks around here at least are often dirty. Starbucks has grown past its ability for quality control. Go to Peet's or local independents!

James

I almost daily go to the Peets in Dublin and the employees are indeed educated about their product (sometimes I don't know what they're saying because i'm not up to snuff on the lingo but they don't know that). There are so many blends between Starbucks and Peets that only a few stick out as favorites and they're all from Peets. The only one I like from Starbucks better is the Peppermint drinks at Christmas time. Peets is less expensive in general too.

Major Dick

I've been a steady Peet's customer since sometime in the eighties. There's no question in my mind about the quality of the coffee and knowledgability of the people in Bay Area Peet's vs. *$. I buy 90%+ of my on-the-fly cappuccinos and 100% of my beans there.

About the only reason for me to drop by *$ is if I'm in a hurry to a morning meeting - nearest Peet's to my work happens to take a few extra minutes. But if I have the time, I go there. BTW I wouldn't mind if they installed some WiFi ...

As to questions about coffee, I don't even bother asking at *$ any more.

John

Peets is FAR better than *$. For example, compare the frozen drinks (Peet's "Freddo" vs *$ Frappacino). You can't taste any coffee in any of the Fraps, and they seem to use some mystery syrup to make them. On the other hand, Peet's Freddo "Extra Bold" will kick you into overdrive with its three espresso shots! Its cold perfection.

james

It's hard to imagine that Peet's won't get wireless at some point, but as a Peet's employee for nearly four years, our store business would suffer it we had it, because it would slow turnover in the seating area.

why would peets have WiFi? they don't even have any tables! it's not a destination - it's a place to get some good coffee. different business models folks.

Mateo

I'll take a shot of Peets Espresso over Starbucks anyday. The Peets employees at the stores in my aread (Los Gatos and San Jose) have always been friendly.

Jessy

Now here's the thing about Starbucks and Peet's. Peet's coffee is ALWAYS fresh, where-as i've herad that Starbucks leaves they're coffee sitting the the back (or wherever) FOR AGES!! I heard from someone i work with that he went tostarbucks and he found a bag of coffee that was a year n a half old!!! Peet's isnt allowed to sell coffee beans no more than 9 days after its roasting date. TALK ABOUT FRESH!

And with the whole friendly thing... Some of that MAY be true, i kno this for a fact because i work at Peet's. But me personally, I SMILE AND TRY TO CONVERSE WITH EVERY CUSTOMER THAT WALKS IN! But even tho im extremely nice, a lot of my co-workers DONT smile. And im trying my hardest to let them know that no matter how good ur coffee drink is, if u dont make that person happy or feel special when u take their order, they arent gonna tip very good, nor are they gonna say to themselves "im definately going back to Peet's!" They'll just go back cuz that's what they're used to.

Either way, Peet's coffee is fresher, the drinks are well thought-out, and even tho we dont smile ALL the time (i do tho, lol) there is still love in every cup (haha was that last part corney enough?)

Linda

Peet's folks are always friendly to me... and in fact, remember my name and drink!

Julie

I couldn't care less if Peets never gets WiFi. I go to coffee shops for, hello, COFFEE. And Peets has the world's best coffee! I've regularly shopped 2 Peets in Oakland, CA for 2-3 years now. And have always had friendly service by their workers. And Peets Freddo drinks kick the socks off Starbucks Frappucino drinks. Good thing Peets is legal - because I'm totally addicted and will never quit them.

anon

Starbucks is far better than any other coffe brand out there. they spend thousands of dollars figuring out what peiople like and then sell it the right way... i go to a starbucks in Sacramento, Ca at 38th and J and the employees are always ready and eager to make a superb cup of coffee. There is a large table where every morning the regulars plant themselves to enjoy the ambiance. They will survive and do much better than Peets ever will!!

well since PEET is trading at $23, and SBUX is at $20, I would say your post is a bit misguided...

Meg

People often forget Peet's started the coffee revolution out a sincere passion for coffee. Starbuck's capitalized on the revolution out a sheer passion for profit.

In any case, my loyalty is with Peet's. I have found their employees to be more down to earth, friendlier and less arrogant then Starbuck's. And, when I go in at 7am in the morning they are awake and ready to go. I only go to a Starbuck's when there is no other choice....the airport, etc. Often times I get the feeling the employees would rather be elsewhere---like home in bed!!

And, btw, Peet's does have WiFi...at least the several I generally patronize.

Starbuck's needs to get over itself!

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