Location:Home > OTHERS > The Man Who Taught The World To Drink Coffee

The Man Who Taught The World To Drink Coffee

Time:2016-11-16 09:20wine - Red wine life health Click:

drink World Coffee Taught

de man die de wereld koffie leerde drinken alfred peet biography book the man who taugh the world to drink coffee peet's coffee and tea berkeley california jasper houtman interview sprudge

Alfred Peet

Fifty years ago, a Dutchman opened a coffee shop in Berkeley, California. He had a penchant for roasting beans dark, the way he had experienced them in Java, Indonesia, and was unwavering in his perfectionistic Old World manner of importing, roasting, selling, and preparing coffee for an American market. That man, Alfred Peet, died in 2007, though his legacy is thriving. It lives today in the business he began, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, a roaster and retailer with more than 200 locations across the US, and which owns a majority stake in well-known specialty roasters like Stumptown and Intelligentsia. And more pervasively, it lives through a company whose three founders learned from Peet everything he knew about running a coffee enterprise. That company is called Starbucks.

Peet’s, the corporation, credits its own founder with having “started the craft coffee revolution.” Mark Pendergrast dedicates his book Uncommon Grounds to Peet, calling him a “coffee curmudgeon supreme.” He is the “Dutchman who taught Americans how to drink coffee,” say industry historians. “The man who taught the world to drink coffee” is the epithet given in the title of a recently published book by Jasper Houtman, an Amsterdam-based writer and an editor at Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad. De man die de wereld koffie leerde drinken is a spry yet rigorous account of Peet’s 87 years on earth, informed by interviews with relatives, former colleagues, customers, and students (including Starbucks founder Jerry Baldwin and Peet’s roastmaster emeritus Jim Reynolds) plus archive research in the US and the Netherlands.

de man die de wereld koffie leerde drinken alfred peet biography book the man who taugh the world to drink coffee peet's coffee and tea berkeley california jasper houtman interview sprudge

Jasper Houtman

Over a cappuccino at Frederix Micro Roasters in Amsterdam, Houtman told me more about this man, whose name has remained largely unfamiliar to his Dutch compatriots. Here I share highlights of our conversation, though to truly understand Peet, readers of Dutch can devour the whole book now and others should await the English translation, currently in the works. The biography brims with surprising facts and personal anecdotes that make a reader chuckle, cringe, and—every now and then—crave a cup of dark roast coffee.

Sprudge: Peet was born in 1920 into a coffee family. His father owned B. Koorn & Company, which sold coffee, tea, and spices in Alkmaar. His uncle ran the Keijzer coffee business in Amsterdam that would eventually be taken over by Simon Lévelt. Peet’s father thought his son should pursue a university education and do something scholarly. Instead, he quit school to become a “coffeeman.” Could the family have anticipated that?

Houtman: I think so because Peet was already keeping busy in his father’s shop. He liked that part of his life: heading to Fnidsen, the small street where the business was located, helping his father and doing all sorts of small jobs. You see it also further on in his life. I spoke to a journalist from the [Dutch newspaper] NRC who was living in San Francisco and visited him once. He said Peet had a room full of stuff that he liked to work on with his hands—all sorts of machines, more like creations.

He didn’t do well at school. It was not that he wasn’t intelligent, but there were other reasons. Some people say he was dyslexic, but I couldn’t find proof of that. His sister said he was a very rebellious boy and he didn’t like going to school, so that’s why he failed at school.

During World War II, Peet did forced labor in Germany. How did that play out?

A lot of Dutch people had to. Peet tried to dodge—before they sent you to Germany, you got summoned and needed to register, and he didn’t do that—but he was caught on the street and sent to work in a German factory. He worked a while there. When the laborers were allowed a few weeks of leave, Peet took it, though remained in Alkmaar, hiding out in the attic of his family’s shed. But the fact is that in the factory he needed to work and he was doing the kind of work he liked, making things, putting things together. Other workers there said to him: “Please slow down, you are working for the enemy!”

After the war, Peet had stints with tea companies in London, Java, and around New Zealand, where he also once worked as a wine sommelier. What brought him to San Francisco?

Copyright infringement? Click Here!