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Sep 20, 2006 08:51 PM

Peets and Starbucks

Please please please tell me what I heard was wrong. I was talking to someone the other day and they told me that the Starbucks company owns Peets. I truly hope they were wrong. In general I prefer to patronize smaller companies than either of these two, but as a dedicated tea drinker, I have to say that Peets has some of the BEST teas you can get almost anywhere...and definitely the best teas that you can get in any coffee house, chain or no, that I have found.

When Starbucks first opened down here in SoCal, they still served looseleaf teas and the quality of their teas were reasonable...but Stash Tea just doesn't do it for me, and I am afraid that if they own Peets...well I am stocking up on my Mariage Freres as we speak.

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  1. Peet's was a local place that opened in Berkeley during the 1960s. In the 1980s, the original Peet's was purchased by the same people that started Starbuck's. For a time, Starbuck's and Peet's were indeed owned by the same people. Eventually, however, the Peet's people broke off and went their own way.

    I love Peet's and think the quality is superior to Starbucks, but the former is as much a corporation as the latter at this point. I do know what you mean, though, about Peet's teas. I once had the pleasure of participating in a rare tea tasting at Peet's. They get good stuff...

    4 Replies
    1. re: a_and_w

      To be precise, Jerry Baldwin retained a partial interest in Starbucks after he bought Peet's. It cannot be said that Starbucks owned Peets or vice versa.

      I've been a "Peetnik" since about 1968. My then wife and I were Cheese Coordinators for the North Berkeley-Albany cell of the Berkeley Food Conspiracy and placed most of our bulk orders with the Cheese Board, who gave us a healthy discount. We'd always stop at Peets on our way to or from the Cheese board, as well on mornings when we shopped at the Berkeley Co-op.

      1. re: Gary Soup

        To be precise, I said they were owned by the same people, not that Starbucks owned Peet's or vice versa. I used to work at a Peet's in SF and am familiar with the tale. The confusion persists because some of the same people who originally started Starbuck's now own Peet's.

        As a humorous aside, we would sometimes play dumb when people used Starbuck's lingo (tall, grande, etc.) to order drinks. But I seem to recall seeing that Peet's has actually changed its menus since then.

        1. re: a_and_w

          I was actually referring to the rumor the OP mentioned that Starbucks "owns" Peets.

          One reason I stopped going to Starbucks early on was their silly lingo, aand the snippiness of some of the employees in correcting me when I stubbornly stuck with ordering "small", "medium", or "large."

          1. re: a_and_w

            I went to a starbucks very late the other night on a drive down to SLO becasue I really needed the coffee...aren't "Tall" "Grande" and "Vente" the same thing in 3 different languages? And when I asked for a double, I almost had to explain what I meant, and that it had nothing to do with the size of the cup. I't good to be home...

      2. That is absolutely not true. Maybe someone got that impression from Peets' recent silliness in offering stuff like a "caramel caffe latte." Starbucks actually got started as a spinoff from Peets and perhaps they would like to eat their father, but you can bet Peets will have none of it. Anyway, Peets' loose teas aren't all that great, either.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Gary Soup

          Starbucks wasn't a spinoff from Peet's, more of a friendly knockoff.

          Also, when the two companies split, Starbucks co-founder Jerry Baldwin stayed at Peet's.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            It was a spinoff in that one of the founders of Starbucks had worked as a roaster for Alfred Peet and founded Starbucks with Peet's blessing. Starbucks intitially bought their beans from Peets.

            1. re: Gary Soup

              Right. It just wasn't a spinoff in the usual business sense.

          2. re: Gary Soup

            Again, notice I said that compared to other coffeehouses, that I liked Peets tea. There are definitely some places that I would rather go to get a cuppa (check out my post about good teas in the Los Angeles area board), but for my running out the door on my way to work fix...Peets Irish Breakfast is hard to beat.

          3. Breathe easy--its not true. Peets has NOTHING to do with Starbucks. Peets is a public company and you can find disclosure re: ownership of its shares in the
            section of its proxy statement:


            Kindly reprimand the spreader of such malicious and easily- debunked rumors.

            1. But Starbucks DOES own Seattles Best....

              1 Reply
              1. re: Cathy

                unfortunately... poor SB (and Borders bookstores)

              2. As you know, Starbucks and Peets are two separate companies. For an extra cup of tea, did you know that Starbucks owns Tazo Tea? Peets rules for beans, leaves, and drinks!