The Historic Connections Between Starbucks And Peet's

Even if you're not a coffee drinker, you're probably familiar with Starbucks. The ubiquitous coffee chain can be found all over the US and the world. With nearly 16,000 stores in the US alone, according to ScrapeHero, and more than 35,000 stores worldwide as of 2022, per Statista, you'd be forgiven for thinking that it's the world's largest coffee company, even though that distinction actually belongs to Peet's Coffee.

Peet's may be much smaller in terms of its store footprint, with just over 300 stores in the US according to ScrapeHero, and another 100 worldwide, but it owns a portfolio of coffee and other beverage brands that include Stumptown and Intelligentsia Coffee. Peet's was then purchased by JDE in 2012. Several mergers and acquisitions later, JDE Peet's is now the world's largest publicly traded coffee company (via The San Francisco Standard). Starbucks owes a lot to Peet's and it seems that Peet's is finally catching up to its younger rival.

How Starbucks and Peet's are connected

Alfred Peet opened his first coffee shop in Berkeley in 1966. It was there that all three founders of Starbucks, Jerry Baldwin, Gordon Bowker, and Zev Siegl, first learned their craft. The three entrepreneurs wanted to open a coffee shop in Seattle, but as a former English teacher, writer, and history teacher without a background in coffee, they knew they had to learn about the business first, so they approached Alfred Peet to teach them. 

They spent time working at Peet's Berkeley store over the holidays in 1970 to learn the ropes, including how to properly source and roast beans. They also got Peet's permission to copy the layout of their store and to sell roasted coffee beans, as Peet's had done. Starbucks even started off selling Peet's roasted beans, until 1973, when Alfred Peet urged the founders to start their own roasting operations. In 1984, Jerry Baldwin purchased Peet's Coffee (and the four locations it had at the time), after Alfred Peet sold the business in 1979. Baldwin would end up selling Starbucks in 1987 to focus on Peet's. Even today, Jerry Baldwin remains on the Board of Directors of Peet's.