Alfred Peet, a Dutch immigrant who grew a coffee empire in California starting with his first tiny shop, Peet's Coffee & Tea, in Berkeley, has died. He was 87.
Peet died Wednesday at his home in Ashland, Ore., the company announced without specifying the cause.
"What made Peet's so strong was that Alfred Peet had so much knowledge about coffee and tea," Jerry Baldwin, a Starbucks founder and member of Peet's board of directors, told The Times on Friday.
Peet learned the coffee trade by helping his father in the family's small coffee roasting business in his hometown of Alkmaar, Holland. After World War II, he moved to London, where he joined Lipton tea and apprenticed in the tea business.
He worked in that industry in Indonesia, then still a Dutch colony, and moved to San Francisco in 1955.
"I came to the richest country in the world, so why are they drinking the lousiest coffee?" Peet asked himself soon after he arrived in California.