In 2004, our daughter moved to Berkeley, CA for graduate school and on one our first visits there, she introduced us to Peet’s coffee. I won’t say it was love at first sip because I honestly can’t recall but I do know that after visiting our daughter several times, Peet’s became one of the first stops we always wanted to make upon our arrival. (Interestingly, one of the founders of Starbucks actually worked for Mr. Alfred Peet and Starbucks even bought their beans from Peet’s when they first got started, four years after Peet’s opened).
While there were no Peet’s stores in Memphis to satiate our craving, our daughter told us about “Peetniks”, a Peet’s service we could subscribe to where they would mail freshly roasted coffee directly to our home on a predefined frequency. I felt we had finally reached coffee nirvana. By simply providing our mailing address and credit card information, we could have delivered to our door, whole bean coffee that had been roasted a mere seven days prior.
The one missing piece to our coffee paradise was a burr grinder. If you Google the difference between burr and blade coffee grinders, you will find that for the best flavor, burr is the way to go since it grinds the beans much more uniformly, an important attribute for making high quality coffee. And since I am the designated coffee maker around the house, I tried to simplify my morning routine by purchasing a combined coffee grinder & coffee maker, one, which in fact had a burr grinder.
With this coffee maker, I could measure out my whole beans at night, fill the water reservoir, set the brew time, and in the morning, I too could enjoy a freshly brewed cup of coffee as soon as I got out of bed. But as anyone knows, grinding coffee beans to a fine powder is a violent, messy process and unfortunately, the chute from the grinder to the drip basket would occasionally clog yielding varied tasting coffee day to day.
After a trip to Canada and seeing one of these at a local store, I got a snazzy red burr grinder, ditched the combo brewer, and went back to a plain cone drip coffee maker.
And once we got our condo in midtown, I had to replicate our coffee brewing experience there as well, just in a different color.
We had in fact reached coffee nirvana and with two in-town locations, now it was time to literally take it on the road. (This pair actually journeys with us whenever we travel by car; just ask any of our friends whose homes we have visited and met at the door with our coffee machines.)
Sitting on the sidelines this entire story has been my daughter, who was the one who actually planted the seed for me to tell this story. Somewhere along the way between the time of her being just Daddy’s little girl…
to her moving to California, getting married and completing her PhD, she became a coffee connoisseur in her own right (maybe the apple doesn’t fall that far from the tree).
Whenever we would visit her and her husband, I obviously would fix coffee for all three of us (her husband doesn’t drink coffee). For herself, she would normally grind a few beans with her blade coffee grinder and brew a single cup with a small cone filter. But when we visited, this was quite a time-consuming process for three individual cups each morning—never mind refills for everyone! Before one of our visits, my daughter took pity on me and purchased a drip coffee maker so I wouldn’t have to make individual cups.
But on several of our visits, as we shared precious moments over a cup of delicious Peet’s, at the close-by coffee shop, I realized that since she too had become quite a coffee lover herself, that I needed to help her ramp up her own coffee program so she too could enjoy the full pleasure of fresh Peet’s coffee every morning. Interestingly, the opportunity came for me to act with the birth of our first grandchild, her first child.
Knowing that we would be going out to CA for a week to meet our grandson for the first time (and knowing that coffee would likely be an important part of those early sleepless nights with an infant), I ordered my daughter one of those snazzy red coffee grinders and had it delivered to her home as an unexpected gift—needless to say she was delighted.
When we arrived, I quickly fell into a new coffee routine. Each morning, I would get up around 5 AM and drive over to my daughter’s home. I would quietly let myself in and then make coffee using her new coffee grinder. Once it had brewed, I would give a cup to my daughter and then take a travel cup back to my wife who was still asleep at our hotel. Then my wife and I would drive back over to spend the day with our daughter and brand-new grandson and enjoy more coffee.
This year, we were back in CA for another one of my September teaching events and had a chance for a real treat. While in Berkeley, our daughter took us to the original Peet’s location, the one Mr. Peet opened in 1966 (the one that predated Starbucks by four years).
In the small museum behind where all the wonderful coffee is brewed, we got a chance to greet Mr. Peet, at least his photographic image since he had died in 2007, only a few years after we had discovered his wonderful coffee. When we walked in to the almost packed store, we were met with the now familiar wonderful Peet’s coffee aroma. And although we didn’t have the time to enjoy a cup that day, I know we will be back for many more. Because, thanks to Mr. Peet and the modern coffee tools we have, my daughter, my wife, and I all can enjoy the coffee nirvana we have realized—snob or connoisseur, you be the judge.
Click here for a peek at that original Peet’s store.