Posts Tagged ‘peets coffee’

Every time I travel by car, I remember why I like really good coffee…

Gas station road coffee sucks for the most part… Let me ask you a question:

Don’t you drink it when you are driving long distance? I think we all do.

Really Good Coffee - my espresso

The kind of delicious coffee you never find driving long distance…

One thing about a road trip…

It always reminds you how much you like your favorite coffee. A road trip is like a refresher course in really good coffee appreciation.

By contrast, whatever you drink at home is probably better than the coffee you drink at C-Stores along the highway as you drive long distance.

Isn’t it always true that we appreciate things by contrast? By comparing one experience against another? By measuring how the “thing” we are trying out compares against the “control” – our old standby, the one we always use or do?

Coffee is the same way.

Somewhere along the road of life, we learn to appreciate our “own” version of really good coffee. And our decision – our choice – may be triggered by a great experience of how good the coffee tasted with dessert at a really good restaurant that our Dad took us to on Mother’s day when we were 15.  And the reality is that maybe that coffee was not the best that Mother’s day, but the memory of that experience is a joyful one – a very pleasant memory of the ones we loved that day.

Or maybe we decided we loved the coffee grandma used to make because it reminds us of the smell of it brewing in her house and how much love there was in that place and how much grandmothers seem to understand children better that parents do. It reminds us of sitting by the fire, having a cup of joe with our granddaddy as he told us stories about growing up in the northwest and being friends with the Lakota and how he learned to speak their language. Maybe it reminds us how warm and good “our favorite” coffee – the way our Dad made it – made us feel during a freezing cold day of skiing at Donner Summit when we got back to the cabin and built a fire and Dad made us coffee.

It’s amazing how our olfactory system is so closely connected to memory and emotion. And – for each of us – how our version of really good coffee is such an individual experience. Someone told me one day (and I can not remember who it was about 30 years ago) that a smell is something that we never forget because the experience goes directly up the nose and gets recorded into the brain. It is both a physical and an emotional memory – with direct circuitry to the brain. It’s not a matter of interpolation or filtering through a thinking process to get into our memory.

As I took the first sip of my second cup of coffee this morning, I thought and then said out loud to myself:

“Damn that tastes good. That is a delicious cup of coffee.”

Immediately I was reminded how each cup of coffee we drank two days ago on a 900 mile road trip tasted. And it became clear to me how much better “my favorite cup in the morning” tastes than the very best cup I had traveling the other day. This is where the comparative (created by my mentor Dr Ed Carlson) “less worse” comes into play.

What’s Your First Memory of Really Good Coffee?

My first memory of really good coffee is standing in line at Peet’s coffee in 1967 in Berkeley California as a teenage customer. When I take a taste of good coffee, I often remember the wonderful aromas, the murmur of people talking, the sounds of high speed grinders whirring and a smiling face taking my order at the original Walnut Square Peets. What is your first memory of really good coffee?

I Am Michael Barrett and I love really good coffee.

Our thanks to this how to get good espresso in North America blog for this lovely coffee picture…

Where Did Really Good Coffee Come From?

Who is Really Good Coffee dot Com?

Maybe you’re asking yourself:

Who are these guys?

What do they know about coffee anyway?

Maybe they’re just coffee snobs who think they know what’s going on.

Actually, this website is one of those warm and fuzzy projects I’ve had in mind for years because I love really good coffee and have since 1966.

In the 90’s, I was co-owner of a little espresso shop called The Morning Shot for 3.5 years in Seattle. That experience taught me a lot about the specialty coffee business and espresso. We also had an espresso cart at two different locations.

After the sale of the shop, I pioneered Oscar’s syrups and the Cappucine line in the Seattle market as a broker – calling on espresso operators to drive distributor business.

Peets Was a Very Good Business Model

Prior to that, my interest in the specialty coffee business was prompted by a 1988 article in Fortune or Forbes (can’t remember which). As I sat in front of the Peets Coffee (across the street from the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley, California), drinking a cup of Joe from Peets, I read that in 1987 Peets had been the most profitable retail operation in the United States – on a

[ $ / square foot ]  basis. That really got my attention.

In 1990, I began researching the espresso business in earnest and creating a business plan. And believe me, I did my homework. In addition, as a retail owner in the business (and later a broker) I got to know a lot of other operators and vendors in the business – primarily Micro Roasters and independents.

Over the course of thousands of hours on the espresso bar – with diligence as well as trial and error – I figured out how to make really good coffee. But not before chasing a lot of good customers away with bad coffee – first.

There’s a lot that goes into producing a good cup.

Of course the blend and the roaster is where it all starts.

But it’s amazing how many "espresso operators" can take a perfectly good bean and ruin it. This isn’t really a reflection on the people personally – and most of them really want to do a good job – like I did. But the difference is that I stuck with it until I figured it out. Lots of operators just don’t have a clue and the simplest way to verify that statement is to taste their coffee.

Today, I can tell what’s going on in an espresso shop about 2 minutes after I walk in the place.

Trial by Fire

As an espresso bar owner – on the commuter flight path into downtown Seattle during rush hour – I learned how to survive first and then thrive in a highly competitive market. The pinnacle accomplishment of The Morning Shot was being written up with a full page in the Sunday Seattle Times Pacific Magazine by the food critic, John Hinterberger.

BTW, a lot of the accolades go to my co-owner, a classically trained French chef, an incredibly hard worker, an all around fantastic lady and my best friend for 15 years, Lori Taylor. Her culinary expertise, hard work and exceptional customer service skills made the place what is was – day after day.

But I was the coffee guy…

The espresso business, by the way, is a blast. I’ve often said it has all of the best elements of owning a bar without the drunks.

Over the course of 3+ years, 6 days a week, 10-14 hours a day working on the espresso bar, I learned a lot about:

  • people
  • how to make really good coffee
  • how people think about coffee
  • perceived value

My intention is to create a really interesting blog and to inform people in a manner that appeals to the intellect. There are a thousand and one stories that I can tell as I dust off the mental archives and tell my espresso story.

And we’ll be reporting live from around the country (in our travels) about:

  • neat little places we find and
  • things we learn about coffee along the way

We’d love to get your feedback and we’d love to be know it if we make a mistake. My other half, Alexandra – the love of my life – is my co-author. She has risen rapidly from the ranks of a Dunkin Donuts coffee fan to a quasi-virtual coffee snob, in a mere two years (under my tutelage).

Besides that, she can write.

Together, with your feedback and participation, we are going to create a great blog and resource.

Look forward to hearing from you.

And we hope you enjoy your really good coffee today.

Where Did Really Good Coffee Come From?

Who is Really Good Coffee dot Com?

Maybe you’re asking yourself:

Who are these guys?

What do they know about coffee anyway?

Maybe they’re just coffee snobs who think they know what’s going on.

Actually, this website is one of those warm and fuzzy projects I’ve had in mind for years because I love really good coffee and have since 1966.

In the 90’s, I was co-owner of a little espresso shop called The Morning Shot for 3.5 years in Seattle. That experience taught me a lot about the specialty coffee business and espresso. We also had an espresso cart at two different locations.

After the sale of the shop, I pioneered Oscar’s syrups and the Cappucine line in the Seattle market as a broker – calling on espresso operators to drive distributor business.

Peets Was a Very Good Business Model

Prior to that, my interest in the specialty coffee business was prompted by a 1988 article in Fortune or Forbes (can’t remember which). As I sat in front of the Peets Coffee (across the street from the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley, California), drinking a cup of Joe from Peets, I read that in 1987 Peets had been the most profitable retail operation in the United States – on a

[ $ / square foot ]  basis. That really got my attention.

In 1990, I began researching the espresso business in earnest and creating a business plan. And believe me, I did my homework. In addition, as a retail owner in the business (and later a broker) I got to know a lot of other operators and vendors in the business – primarily Micro Roasters and independents.

Over the course of thousands of hours on the espresso bar – with diligence as well as trial and error – I figured out how to make really good coffee. But not before chasing a lot of good customers away with bad coffee – first.

There’s a lot that goes into producing a good cup.

Of course the blend and the roaster is where it all starts.

But it’s amazing how many "espresso operators" can take a perfectly good bean and ruin it. This isn’t really a reflection on the people personally – and most of them really want to do a good job – like I did. But the difference is that I stuck with it until I figured it out. Lots of operators just don’t have a clue and the simplest way to verify that statement is to taste their coffee.

Today, I can tell what’s going on in an espresso shop about 2 minutes after I walk in the place.

Trial by Fire

As an espresso bar owner – on the commuter flight path into downtown Seattle during rush hour – I learned how to survive first and then thrive in a highly competitive market. The pinnacle accomplishment of The Morning Shot was being written up with a full page in the Sunday Seattle Times Pacific Magazine by the food critic, John Hinterberger.

BTW, a lot of the accolades go to my co-owner, a classically trained French chef, an incredibly hard worker, an all around fantastic lady and my best friend for 15 years, Lori Taylor. Her culinary expertise, hard work and exceptional customer service skills made the place what is was – day after day.

But I was the coffee guy…

The espresso business, by the way, is a blast. I’ve often said it has all of the best elements of owning a bar without the drunks.

Over the course of 3+ years, 6 days a week, 10-14 hours a day working on the espresso bar, I learned a lot about:

  • people
  • how to make really good coffee
  • how people think about coffee
  • perceived value

My intention is to create a really interesting blog and to inform people in a manner that appeals to the intellect. There are a thousand and one stories that I can tell as I dust off the mental archives and tell my espresso story.

And we’ll be reporting live from around the country (in our travels) about:

  • neat little places we find and
  • things we learn about coffee along the way

We’d love to get your feedback and we’d love to be know it if we make a mistake. My other half, Alexandra – the love of my life – is my co-author. She has risen rapidly from the ranks of a Dunkin Donuts coffee fan to a quasi-virtual coffee snob, in a mere two years (under my tutelage).

Besides that, she can write.

Together, with your feedback and participation, we are going to create a great blog and resource.

Look forward to hearing from you.

And we hope you enjoy your really good coffee today.

Really Good Coffee Was the Alfred Peet Legacy

Alfred Peet was the son of a coffee trader in the Netherlands – he grew up in a coffee house.

I remember when he opened his first coffee store – located at Walnut and Vine in my hometown of Berkeley in 1966. It became a success very quickly.

Not long after, the Air Quality Control Board of California came knocking and told him that he could not have a roasting operation in that location.

"What’s the problem with this location?"

"The neighbors are complaining and this is fundamentally a residential neighborhood. You have to move it."

So Mr. Peet had to move the roasting operation to a different location to accomodate them.

At the time, Emeryville (a town adjacent to the south west of Berkeley) was kind of an industrial wasteland with many old warehouses and empty factories – left over from an era when America had been the foremost manufacturing powerhouse in the world. It had not been renovated yet.

Square footage was cheap there and abundent.

So Mr. Peet leased a commercial space in Emeryville, California and set up his roasting equipment. Looking inside the building was this huge warehouse space (relatively speaking) and this little tiny roasting machine way down at the end.

Now he had a roasting facility.

How was he going to pay for it?

He needed a commercial customer to generate the cash flow to accomodate the rent.

Peet’s first commercial roasting customer was a little company in Seattle named Starbucks.

Peets Coffee is a Berkeley icon and has set the standard for really good coffee and quality espresso since.

More about Peets Coffee and Tea.

Peets Coffee Pioneered Really Good Coffee

Peets Coffee Started The Whole Coffee Experience On The West Coast

Flashback: Peets Coffee in Berkeley, California at the original roasteria on the corner of Walnut and Vine – three blocks away from the pediatrician who tended me as a child. It is 1967, I can remember standing in line with 20-50 other people everyday waiting for my cup of java.

Most of us had our favorite ceramic mugs in our hands because they knocked a dime off the price if you had your own cup…

and we were an ecologically conscious group.

Berkeley in the 60’s – Who’d of Thought – History in the Making

Talk About a Piece of Nostalgia. People’s Park and all. Janice and Jimmy and The Dead…

If I remember correctly, it cost $.55 and $.45 if you had your own cup. The dime made a difference but the real reason was the flavor. It tasted better in ceramic.

The coffee was so darn good and the smells coming out of that place were comforting and wonderful. Aroma central…

It generally didn’t matter what time of day it was either, it was always busy – which was cool because the staff was great – friendly, and they obviously loved their jobs and Peets coffee.

 

Fast, Hot, Fresh and Exceptional Coffee

They were pretty fast too, but we didn’t mind waiting. The coffee was worth it. At fourteen, it amazed me how fast they moved and how much coffee they brewed – and how they made it taste so good.

Because it was so busy, the coffee was always freshly brewed. I didn’t drink espresso back then. Drinking doppios was an acquired taste.

Can’t Remember My First Cup…

Thinking back I can’t remember when I wasn’t a coffee drinker – and yet I can’t remember my "first cup" either.

As I write this, that was 40 years ago.

Whether Peets was my first coffee experience – or not – I couldn’t tell you at this point. But it became the standard in my mind and in my palate against which all other coffee has been measured since.

It was the place where I learned to appreciate quality.

This little store on the corner of Walnut and Vine in Berkeley was the birthplace of the modern day espresso company of today and in many repects the origin of Starbucks.

Alfred Peet was a master of his craft.

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