Why Peet’s Purchase of Stumptown is Great for Coffee

Peet's Coffee Buys Stumptown Coffee Roasters

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Peet’s Coffee purchased Stumptown Coffee Roasters this week, much to the chagrin of coffee snobs everywhere (including me, initially).

But after the shock settled and I actually had time to process the news, I realized that this may actually be one of the best things to happen to the coffee industry in recent memory.

Peet’s is responsible for my love of coffee

Sometimes I’m quick to forget how much Peet’s has done for me over the years in terms of developing my love for coffee.

Peet’s started in the city I grew up in (Berkeley, CA), my dad drank (and continues to drink) it religiously, and I bought my first “serious” coffee equipment (tamper, espresso machine, burr grinder) at Peet’s.

Even 5 years ago I was going to Peet’s almost every morning before dropping my girlfriend off to work. It was a pleasant ritual.

Stumptown: the new, hipper Peet’s?

The first time I was exposed to Stumptown was at my friend’s cabin in Tahoe.

His dad, an espresso fiend, mentioned that he mostly bought his beans from Stumptown. Coincidentally, a trendy cafe 3 storefronts down from the Peet’s my girlfriend and I went to, brewed with Stumptown coffee exclusively.

Long story short…the coffee was really good, and this was the beginning of my transition into consuming third wave coffee (Stumptown) over the second wave (Peet’s) almost exclusively.

Why Peet’s purchase of Stumptown is a good thing

When Starbucks recently purchased La Boulange (a quaint patisserie chain in San Francisco), all of the La Boulange locations were almost immediately shut down.

It was as if Starbucks completely swallowed the La Boulange brand, no crumbs left behind.

Peet’s and Stumptown however, have been insistent that this acquisition is different in the sense that Stumptown will still operate independently, doing what they’ve been doing with the assistance of Peet’s resources and massive scale.

Whether this is the case remains to be seen…but the intentions are at least good.

From Stumptown’s perspective, they get to grow bigger and spread the third wave coffee movement even farther.

From Peet’s perspective, they get to keep a foot in the second wave they helped establish as well as put a foot in the third wave they are looking to support and potentially enter.

What do you think?

Since everybody is weighing in on this news I figured I’d do the same. But I’m most interested in what you think, so please leave a comment below about your thoughts on this recent acquisition.

Good thing? Bad thing? Or no thing?

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  • Could be an okay thing. If it had been Starbucks though; would definitely be a bad thing. I like Peet’s that much better than Starbucks—who seem to have no *taste* when it comes to coffee. But then again, something has been up with Peet’s. They recently switched their menu around and it has more of the nasty kind of overly sweet, high additive selections that Starbucks’ is known for.

    So probably a bad thing. Bigger business buying smaller business usually means a loss of the attention to detail and loss of the strong commitments to quality that made that small business so great to begin with. When hasn’t this been the case?

    In the case of La Boulange, the owner responded by reopening one of the original locations right down the street from where I work—out of frustration perhaps for the loss of the original intention. It’s got a different menu now and is more expensive too. Not sure why, but I can guess.

    • Hi Liza!

      Sounds like we aren’t too far from each other…I assume you’re referring to La Boulange in Hayes Valley, no? Interesting theory regarding the higher prices. I’d also argue that the absurd rent in that neighborhood is a contributing factor. They should just rebrand to La Bourgeois :-p

      I agree, it really is TBD still. What I find interesting is that Stumptown has seemingly not changed much since the acquisition, but Peet’s, like you’ve already mentioned, is really starting to change.

      First it was the cold brew “black tie”, which I saw as a desperate grab at two trends at once (cold brew and vietnamese iced coffee). Then, a few weeks ago I’m walking down the street in Berkeley and I see an ad in the window for their new breakfast option: a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich. Very un-Peet’s IMO.

      On the Starbucks side, we just recently saw them hop on the nitro cold brew train, which is going to have major cost. Of course, they weren’t acquired by JAB, nor did they acquire any smaller coffee companies themselves (to my knowledge) but they are doing what they can to keep up with the “Third Wave.”

      I think you’re right about the inevitability that comes along with big business buying little business, but so far it seems like it is working in a backwards kind of way.

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