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Alfred Peet, 1920—2007
Lightbulb moment: Born in Holland in 1920, Peet worked odd jobs in his father's small coffee roastery as a boy and later worked in the coffee import business in Europe. In 1955, Peet arrived in America, where he found the coffee tasted bland, weak, and nothing like the rich brews he was used to drinking. He realized that high-altitude coffee beans from places such as Costa Rica, Guatemala, and East Africa weren't being imported to the U.S. Thanks to his relationships in the industry, Peet was able to establish connections to import these high-quality Arabica beans to America.
What's in a name: In 1966, Peet opened his first coffee shop in Berkeley, CA, which he simply but aptly called Peet's Coffee & Tea. It soon became a gathering place for a group of coffee devotees, who called themselves "Peetniks." In his store and the surrounding area, which became known as the Gourmet Ghetto, the artisan coffee movement in America began to gain ground.
Up next: Though Peet passed away in 2007, the company carries on its founder's legacy in all phases of production. "At Peet's, we continue to focus on his original tenets of sourcing, roasting, and freshness," says Debbie Kristofferson, vice president of brand and creative strategy. "We celebrate single-origin flavor, and blends are built to be greater than the sum of their parts."
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Meet Justin, Amy, Lara, Peet, and the others responsible for the nut butters, frozen meals, bars, coffee, and other foods you love.