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  1. First of all the first Peets at Vine & Walnut in Berkeley opened in 1969. I lived across the street from Live Oak Park on Henry & was among the first customers. So neener, neener, neener, or should it be spelled like wiener? Anyway even though Berkeley is a husk of its former self a Starbucks at Vine & Walnut would be sacrilegious. Though Peets has been backsliding for years now along with most the rest of the human world,  once one is hooked on dark roasted the choices are limited beyond french or italian roast, not the best beans. What I drink today does not compare with what I remember even ten years ago.  And assuming it still exist where does the best coffee end up?

    As a matter of principal I won’t patronize Starbucks no matter what. Don’t understand why folks do not support their local coffee shops. At least the ones serving good coffee.

  2. Well, one sign of further corporatizers’ depredations is the standardization of the scone offerings and pastries from store to store. They are delicious, but where are my cream currant and iced lemon curd scones? sure, they are 480 calories but the iced maple nut is more and too sweet.
    All in all, it’s still got a feel of quality compared to S-bucks and there remains a characteristic Peet’s flavor most or some of the time anyway. There’s one nearby or I’d head over to an independent. Now that the best scones have been edited, I’m on the lookout for another place.

  3. I have steadfastly refused to buy coffee at Starbucks after rumors that Starbucks tried to purchase the original Peet’s space on Northside. And as a loyal Peetnik who has a regular supply of Peet’s whole bean roasts sent to my home in New Haven, it would tweek me royally if it becomes clear that Starbucks takes over.

  4. Thanks for the tip! I’ve walked past Cole on College many times, but never really noticed it. I’m a Peet’s fan, but am looking for something as good or better, just in case.

  5. So, to EBGuy and the Right Honorable Lifelong,

    @lifelong,

    The number of people who have the time and laptops required to search for, download and analyze an eleven year old 10-K form TWICE to rebut another’s subjective recollection of a coffee store is precisely why Peet’s today and Starbuck’s are making a fortune operating the wi-fi shelters they do.

    Please understand that I’m I guess a little jealous that you got to experience Vine St. Peet’s back when and your point about wi-fi shelters isn’t something I’m arguing against. I really enjoyed reading your account of the time that ended just slightly before I first “met” Peet’s.

    For the record, I don’t use a laptop or sit in cafes goofing around on the net. I goof around on the net at home in intensive bursts to break up other longer term work. As for time, my mistake that EBGuy caught exposes that I (and, prbly like him, I’d guess) think that research for the kind of analysis we were doing is a kind of fun “speed drill”. It’s fun to practice because it is a very useful skill in things that really matter, because it can shed light (eventually, in this case) on the news report, and because (in this case) quickly extracting relevant information from a 10-K is a good skill to have for some of us.

    10-K’s and other SEC filings look really intimidating and bewildering until you’ve seen a few and know at least somewhat what the form and function of them are. For an annual report like that, trying to back-of-an-envelope figure out changes in store revenues? The reports are a lot of easily ignorable blah-blah-blah and a few key charts. In some parts of life, it’s valuable to be able to quickly flip through the blah-blah-blah and skim for what you need.

    Whoever wrote the Peet’s 2001 10-K and whoever set up their accounting to break down into those two business segments and those categories in the way they did — both are to be commended. Peet’s are very lucid 10-Ks compared to some that I’ve seen, especially that first one.

    @EBGuy, good catch on my mistake and thanks for checking. There were two rows in that table of per segment breakdown. I had a 50% chance to actually pick the correctly labled one! “Off by one error” 🙂

    Some of that 27% per store bev and pastry growth is inflation, no doubt, and a wider selection of more expensive and/or higher margin products that were not available in 2000. Some (see the discussion of the retail segment in the 2000 report) might have to do with the age-mix of stores. Young stores are heavier (they said in 2001) in beverages and pastry and, as the stores mature, beans become a larger part of per-store revenue. Atop which, as beans etc. get much more sold on-line and in grocery stores, I think the new stores have a larger capacity for bev and pastry service. I still say there isn’t much in the numbers of the 10-K that gives support for a perceived increase in bev and pastry “busy-ness” over 2000-2010.

    This is not meant to imply that the annoying hipsters with wifi laptops are excused from getting off of lifelong’s lawn.

  6. “…In 2000, Peet’s had about 59 stores. Beverage and pastry net revenue was about $50,290,000. That works out to about $852,000 per store…”

    As I said: The number of people who have the time and laptops required to search for, download and analyze an eleven year old 10-K form TWICE to rebut another’s subjective recollection of a coffee store is precisely why Peet’s today and Starbuck’s are making a fortune operating the wi-fi shelters they do.

  7. Neat but I think your math is wrong.
    In my defense, I hadn’t yet had my cup of Peets! That was a rather hairbrained approach given that they break out the store slaes numbers. However I did find one error in you calculations:
    In 2000, Peet’s had about 59 stores. Beverage and pastry net revenue was about $50,290,000. That works out to about $852,000 per store.
    Whole bean coffee, tea, and related products was $50,290k. Beverages and pastries were $34,012k. So $34,012k/56 (avg.) stores = $607k per store. This gives a net uptick of about 27% over the decade for the grab and go (or stay) muffin and latte crowd . I guess that may make it feel a bit more crowded, or perhaps it IS the WiFiers that are getting to LLB. As for me, I wear a metal colander whenever I go to Peets. So, ya know, no problems — everyone gives me wide berth and the EMF doesn’t get to me 🙂
    Up next, a Noah’s rant.

  8. “…I was curious if lifelongberkeleyan was just a grumpy old timer, or if there were some stats to back up llb’s perspective.”

    The period I refer to runs from the store’s opening through the mid 80’s. By 2000 Alfred Peet had sold the business and been retired seventeen years. The chain’s heyday had long passed. I offered no perspective on Peet’s Inc.’s financials then or now.

    The perspective I offered is that both Peet’s and coffee served and succeeded in vastly different roles then, than they do today.

    The original Peet’s sold artisanal coffee, beans or ground fresh. Plus tea and coffee making paraphernalia (the pyrex hour glass with wooden collar and leather thong! )

    The brewed coffee sold seemed more for sample/trial than a desire to be a coffee shop. If you did buy a cup, it was to start your day, not be your day.

    The number of people who have the time and laptops required to search for, download and analyze an eleven year old 10-K form to rebut another’s subjective recollection of a coffee store is precisely why Peet’s today and Starbuck’s are making a fortune operating the wi-fi shelters they do.

  9. Nooooooooooooo! Peet’s is the coffee I’ve grown up with, being a Berkeley native. I will not be going to Starbucks if this happens.

  10. (Oops…. hehe… the draft I started writing is appended to the end there. I abandoned that draft because, trying to retrace EBGuy’s numbers, I noticed the simpler way to analyze it. So, everything from “First, llb is comparing [….]” onward is basically a typo. Sorry. )

    (A “preview” button would really be nice on Berkeleyside!)

  11. EBGuy, Ugh. Neat but I think your math is wrong.

    (And, also, I think llb is talking about the days way, way before the public offering. Back when the varnish on the bespoke fixtures on Vine St. was fresh. (And aren’t they mighty fine fixtures?!? I’ve always admired that. It’d be so hard for a business to do something like that these days.))

    Here is a simpler way to look at it:

    In 2000, Peet’s had about 59 stores. Beverage and pastry net revenue was about $50,290,000. That works out to about $852,000 per store.

    In 2010 Peet’s had about 192 stores. Beverage and pastry net revenue was about $147,543,000. That works out to about $768,000 per store.

    Per store, Peet’s is netting less beverage and pastry revenue per store in 2010 than in 2000, not more. There is no indication of a huge uptick in “busy-ness” since 2000.

    (I had to check because I have been visiting Peet’s stores now and again since the late 1980s and the huge increase in business you were thinking of doesn’t jibe with what I’ve observed.)

    First, llb is comparing Peet’s long before the public offering to Peet’s these days. Back when all those nice bespoke fixtures on Vine St. were freshly made and long before Peet’s had devised a way to crank out loose copies for other retail outlets.

    Second, I don’t think your numbers quite work. There’s one factual error, isn’t there? Retail stores were 81% of net revenue in 2000, I see that. In 2010, retail net revenue was 61% not 43%. See page 18 of the 2011 10-K.

    And, true, at the same time that retail store percentage of revenue fell, percentage of revenue for beverages and pastry rose (40% .. to 44%).

    From that you are saying, I think, that therefore many more people must be going in to stores for bev and pastry. It doesn’t follow.

  12. I was curious if lifelongberkeleyan was just a grumpy old timer, or if there were some stats to back up llb’s perspective. I dug out a 10-K from 2000 that shows Peet’s Whole bean coffee and related products was about 60% of their business and Beverages and pastries was around 40%. Fast forward to 2010 and Peet’s Whole bean coffee and related products is around 56% and Beverages and pastries is about 44%. At first glance (ignoring a lot of other factors) you could say that the Peet’s stores are around 10% busier based on the increase from 40% to 44% of, heaven forbid, people buying scones and getting freddos (which we all know, is the ultimate Starbuckization of Peet’s). But that’s not the whole picture. Over the same 10 year period, revenue from Peet’s stores declined from 81% of total revenue to 43%. This means, by my calculations (lots of hand waving), that Peet’s stores are, on average, 41% busier with scone chomping coffee swillers. Yikes!

  13. “…It was a coffee bar back then, rather than a line for cups of coffee. Everyone pushed forward to get to the bar.”

    as I wrote:

    “We approached the counter is waves. In three minutes or less four or five at time were served, money collected and change made and the next wave rolled in.”

    It wasn’t a bar, it was a service counter, no one drank or sat at the ‘bar’. And those who pushed got pushed back.

  14. “The only choice was ‘large’ or ‘small’.”

    As I remember, it was large or small and French Roast or Coffee of the Day.
    It was a coffee bar back then, rather than a line for cups of coffee. Everyone pushed forward to get to the bar.

  15. At its height, Peet’s on Vine was great place to buy ground coffee and/or grab a cup and carpe the diem. When there was a line it was for the beans. “No chairs, no tables, just coffee mister.”

    The ‘to go’ coffee was dispensed at the front by a miraculously fast fellow (a drummer) from a small counter with two big urns behind him. The only choice was ‘large’ or ‘small’. We approached the counter is waves. In three minutes or less four or five at time were served, money collected and change made and the next wave rolled in. People made a point of having exact change, or at least no big bills. The idea of spending half an hour in line would have been unthinkable.

    One generation’s humor is another’s reality-

    Our daughter just got hired at BlahBlah Inc.
    What does she do?
    She makes coffee.
    Hahaha

    Our daughter just got hired at BlahBlah Inc.
    What does she do?
    She’s a barista!
    Ooooooo.

    It was years ago, when Peet’s became a wi-fi shelter and day room that Peet’s was really sold, out.

  16. If it ends up tasting the same I’ll just shop at a smaller roaster. To me you CAN tell the difference.

  17. I was living at Oxford and Vine around the time Peets opened…small chains are good for a local economy in many ways, going public meant that I could get Peets in Santa Barbara too, but c’mon, can you imagine walking into Peets and having to hear someone call your large coffee a venti??

  18. I would be very sad if Starbucks bought Peet’s. The first thing that would happen is that they would close some of the stores. BTW I was just at downtown Bart for the first time in a long time the other day. I love the Peet’s there.

  19. Coffee making is like winemaking; an art that varies. We all have different tastes. Peet’s vs Starbucks is like Silver Oak vs Gallo Red. Lacking any “good” coffee (or wine) I’ve been know to drink either). Given a choice; (like on Solano); I go to Peet’s. Starbuck’s does provide bathroom access however. I also love Catahoule on San Pablo in Richmond ( just past the 80 freeway overcrossing or north of Barrett on the right hand side); something about roasting the beans in front of you; just like when Peet started out; yes I drank there. I like diversity and choices in all food areas.

  20. Peet’s went down hill shortly after they went public! Cole coffee has the best coffee around that doesn’t cost $50 bucks a pound (ex cobalt bottle) Cole coffee reminds me of Peet’s coffee in the 70’s good quality roasted in small batches!

  21. Please tell me that it’s NOT happening! I love Peet’s and if Starbucks acquires them, then their quality will go downhill. If that’s the case, I won’t be drinking both…I’ll make the drive and grab myself a cup of Blue Bottle Coffee!

  22. Berkeley Bowl, one of whose stores is right near my place, being sold to WalFart?
    No! No! No! I cannot bear it–even if Walmart does sell new glasses for the cheapest
    price ever!
    Save Berkeley Bowl, and Peets, too!
    Marion

  23. Starbucks sucks, and if Peet’s allows that to happen that would be a shame.
    If it does happen, screw ’em, both!

  24. Starbucks originally purchased all its coffee from Peets. However, I should prefer that
    Peets be taken over by Tully coffee and tea–though they both originate in Seattle.
    (Mr. Peet had originally worked for Freed, Teller & Freed in San Francisco.)
    Peets’ coffee has kept our family alive for at least two generations!
    Long may it survive–no matter under which or what name!
    Marion