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Feb 10, 2014 02:30 PM

alternative to peets

I've been drinking Peet's Major Dickason, ground #6, made with an Aeropress, for years.

Recently it has come to my attention that since Peets was bought out in 2012, their labor practices have gotten to be something that I don't want to support.

Anybody got an idea of (a) something similar to Major D, (b) what #6 translates into in the language of, say, Santa Cruz Coffee Company or Philz, and/or (c) what questions to ask when I'm talking to baristas in order to help them help me?

PQ in Oakland

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  1. I'm pretty sure Peet's is a better place to work than most small chains and independents, but their prices went up and quality went down, so I spent a lot of time looking for alternatives:

    1. I haven't heard anything bad going on with the retail side of things, but as a customer, I've lost whatever nostalgia I had since the stuff rarely tastes the same.

      I'd think Coffee Bar (owned by Mr. Espresso in Oakland) has flavor profiles you'll like.

      If any of the two Bernie's locations are convenient to you, I'm pretty sure they use beans roasted by the old Spinelli's owner, and it leans towards a dark roast that's a throwback to the old Peet's style.

      Both are independently owned and operated, family business type places.

      1. Blue Bottle will probably haves something that will work. Bica in Rockridge sells a number of different 3rd wave coffee beans and the baristas are knowledgeable.

        2 Replies
        1. re: freesnack

          Blue Bottle's darkest roast is way too light for my taste. Verve's Buena Vista is the only genuinely dark-roast coffee I've found from a third-wave roaster. The others won't go past Full City.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Try Three Africas.

            Plenty of Roasters go past a Full City, recognizable as far as #13 on this Sweet Maria's chart for a "Vienna Roast".

            Ecco, Intelligentsia, Coffee Bar, and Caffe Linea are doing good darker roasts right now, in addition to Verve.

        2. re: talking to coffee house owners

          1) you're going to have to get lucky about someone who has time, skill, inclination.
          2) Saying exactly what you said - what you like, what you've been doing, Major D, Aerospress, is great. Everyone knows Major D.
          3) Say what you've tried and don't like. I don't like .... light roast africans because the winey taste doesn't do it. Whatever.
          4) Say whether you use milk & sugar, and if so how much.
          5) Say the price range you're willing to deal with.

          Honestly, the grind numbers are easy to figure out. Peet's uses one of the standard grinders, so a #6 in peet's should be translatable. You can increase the odds by bringing in some of the grind you like and say "grunt, like this, grunt". I bet they would even grind a little and show it to you and you can see if it matches up.

          Good luck!

          Oddly, I've been coming back to Major D because it's a dark enough roast, and it's very easy to get, at a reasonable price point. I haven't come, yet, to being OK with $20/lbs, even though I am quite happy with some of the FourBarrel & Barefoot offerings in that price range. BlueBottle I liked some of their espresso roasts back in '07-ish, haven't really tried it seriously since '09.

            1. re: soupçon

              Good suggestion. I don't remember it being too close in flavor, and it's kinda pricey now, but it should fit the roast style at least.

              1. re: soupçon

                That's where I bought beans years ago when I lived in SF and Peet's had not yet expanded there.