Good things about Peets:
1. They use different roasts of beans for their espresso drinks and brewed coffee
2. They do not use cute names for their coffee
3. The drinks taste better
It is mostly the roasting and freshness of the bean that determines the taste. Certain types of bean respond better to more intense roasts, and the time after roasting can make a big difference in taste.
The only negative with Peet's is their location. They are not all over the place like Starbucks, so it is more of a challenge to seek them out. They are worth the journey!
There are at least 4 Starbuck locations within a 2 minute drive of my house and I will drive out of my way to go to Peets. I was a very happy camper when our office switched from Starbucks to Peets.
As noted above, Starbucks tastes burnt. It seems to me that they get around that by pushing their flavored drinks more than their coffee. I mean, if I want to drink a milkshake, I'll order one.
They don't use a push button machine to make espresso drinks.
If you buy 1/2 lb of beans you get a free drink (you can apply the price of the drink to anything they have, actually).
The coffee is dark roast and brewed strong, but doesn't taste as burnt as Starbucks.
It started in Berkeley, as someone said. It hasn't been all that long that they've opened retail outlets in southern California.
Coffee is like wine in that there's a wide range: Two Buck Chuck to Chateau d'Yquem. Obviously, while there is an allowance for individual tastes, there is general agreement as to which of them is superior.
Espresso and espresso drinks, in addition to the quality of the roasted bean itself, depend heavily on the skill and equipment of the preparer.
Peet's folks really know how to make a great cup of coffee! Alfred Peet started off in Berkeley, and the 3 guys who subsequently started Starbucks were his fans & worked for a short while with him before they went on to Seattle to start their own business - they used Peet's coffee beans in their first year of business.
From coffee growing regions and their climates and varied soils, to cultivation, to harvesting, to roasting, and finally to the many varied brewing methods. It's by no means just about 'the type of roasting'. There are literally thousands of steps and man hours that go into the production of the 'brew' known as coffee and in particular specialty coffee. I've recently had the opportunity due to my BH's recent employment as a barista in an 'independent' coffee house, to view a wonderful video entitled The Passionate Harvest. It gave me a whole new understanding into ALL the factors that can infulence the taste of that wonderful liquid known as brewed coffee.
I am not a coffee drinker, but married to one. He only drinks Peet's. And only buys certain beans. It is all in the type of roasting. Starbucks and Peet's taste very different with the same bean. It is like Bourbon, many brands, each made their own special way. What do your taste buds want?