Peet's Vs Starbucks - Who Is The Real King Of Coffee

Peet’s Vs Starbucks – Who Is The Real King Of Coffee?

Last updated on October 24th, 2023 at 19:39

In the great Peet’s Vs Starbucks debate, who makes the best coffee and has the best experience is a very subjective topic. My opinion is not necessarily the same as yours; how I like my coffee and what coffee I drink, and what I expect from a gourmet coffee shop is different also.

It is not my objective to tell you which coffee bar or brand is best.

We are all adults and capable of making our own choices and decisions. The goal with this article is to simply inform you, with a little wiggle room for my opinion, about both Peet’s and Starbucks.

If you are in a rush, here is the quick answer.

While Starbucks is more fast-paced with a coffee on the go atmosphere and is popular with the occasional online worker with their laptop, Peet’s have a focus that is more leisurely and on the customers enjoying their coffee in their establishment. In terms of flavor, Peet’s is bolder and more of an espresso taste in their gourmet café drinks.

Keep reading as we dig down and get into the subject of Peet’s Vs Starbucks.

About Peet’s Coffee

Long before Starbucks, K-cups, and Dunkin’ Donuts, there is one gourmet coffee shop that was hip and popular and is, literally, the Grandfather of gourmet coffee. Peet’s is that very coffee shop.

Founded by Alfred Peet, an immigrant from Holland, in 1966 in Berkeley, California.

Their focus was to bring fresh, dark-roasted coffee beans to the American customer. They offer a wide range of coffee drinks, all made with freshly roasted coffee beans and ranging from espresso based drinks to bottled cold brew coffee and everything in between.

Peet’s coffee beans are sold in more than 15,000 stores in the US alone and have 250+ gourmet coffee shops in America.

Peet’s even had a huge impact on the specialty coffee industry and the founders of Starbucks. They are no small company – They are a unicorn, a billion dollar a year empire.

About Peet's Coffee
Peet’s Coffee

Read: What is the strongest coffee?

About Starbucks

When you think about gourmet coffee chains, then most likely the first name that springs to mind is Starbucks. They are, after all, the largest coffee chain in the world and a US$30 Bn+ per year empire of coffee shops that are present in nearly 100 countries.

Like Peet’s they have a wide range of their own high quality and expertly roasted whole bean and pre-ground coffees. Starbucks also has a range of microground instant coffee which, finally, some coffee lovers may say, brings some much-needed quality to instant coffee.

Besides their wide range of specialty gourmet coffee drinks, Starbucks also has teas, pastries and snacks. Most locations offer free Wi-Fi in their attempt to get the “in crowd” of digital nomads.

Starbucks is known for being the favorite of the coffee-loving hipster crowd.

About Starbucks Coffee
A Very Familiar Looking Starbucks Coffee

Peet’s vs Starbucks – The Difference In Their Approach To Coffee

Now we have very briefly introduced both the coffee giants, let’s talk about how they differ in their approach to coffee as their approach is very different and remarkably so in many areas including their business model, branding, brewing and even their coffee beans.

Starbucks appeals to the hip younger trendy coffee drinker with a clean modern decor and design that is ever present in their coffee shops all over the world.

Starbucks is well known for their darker than normal roast that produces a slightly burnt and ever so slightly bitter taste.

Coffee experts claim that the acquired taste creates a brand preference for their coffee. Their specialty drinks are on the opposite end of the scale and are focused on coffee lovers with a sweet tooth, with sugar-loaded syrup-based coffee drinks with vanilla and caramel flavors being their popular ones.

Peet’s coffee on the other hand has a very different experience, they go for the warm, comfortable, homely, laid-back vibe and are less chic and modern. Peet’s rather than focusing on a fast-paced coffee on the run that Starbucks do, Peet’s attention is on their customers enjoying their coffee at leisure and enjoying it in a chillax atmosphere.

The roast level of Peet’s is a very normal and standard roast level while emphasizing on bold espresso tastes in their coffee drinks. Their coffee, on average, has less caffeine than Starbucks coffee when compared on a like for like basis.

Both of the coffee giants have their own brand of high quality tasty coffee beans on sale in their coffee shops and online and from various outlets like Amazon and Wallmart. Their coffee beans, which I’ll discuss in a moment, have a variety of roasts and single-origin varieties. Starbucks’ coffee tends to be more popular and very well selected.

Both are very secretive regarding the exact blends of their specialty coffee and are trade secrets.

Peet’s vs Starbucks: The Best Coffee Beans At Peet’s Coffee

Let’s now talk about the coffees that are on offer by these two coffee conglomerates, starting with Peet’s.

#1 JR Reserve Blend

The JR Reserve Blend is roasted only on a Wednesday. It is a full-bodied coffee with chocolate notes and a touch of spice that is indescribable. It is roasted only once per week because they want to keep their coffee beans as fresh as possible.

It is most certainly a coffee to get your hands on.

#2 Guatemala San Sebastián

Peet’s purchase their coffee beans from coffee farms and co-operatives in Antigua. This is a single-origin coffee that really stands out. They are very aromatic and have very distinctive tones of bittersweet chocolate. It’s bright and acidic and, well, sweet all at the same time and is well-loved as one of Peet’s best coffees.

Understandably, it is one of their best sellers. Try it as a pour over, Chemex or a French press to get the best flavors from these coffee beans.

Peet's Guatemala San Sebastián
A Great Coffee By Peet’s

#3 Major Dickason’s Blend

This is a dark roast blend that is smooth, rich and has some very complex flavors. Its nutty and earthy flavors really stand out. These coffee beans brew very well as a drip coffee, with a paper filter or with a metal filter. French press and espresso shots are also very good drinks to make to get the most out of these coffee beans.

#4 French Roast

This French roast is smokey, bold and full of flavor. The dark tastes cut through the cream, milk and sugar that you may take with your coffee. It is one of the top French roasts that you will find and is excellent in your French press, drip coffee maker, siphon and for making a number of milk based espresso drinks like a latte, cortado, flat white, mocha, macchiato and many more.

Peet's French Roast
Peet’s French Roast Coffee Beans

#5 House Blend

This is a blend from Latin America and is a dark roast that is full-bodied and bright with a great hint and tone of spice that gives it a very crisp finish. If you have never tried Peet’s coffee before, this one is a great starting point.

Siphon, drip, and French press are great brewing methods for these coffee beans.

Starbucks’ Best Coffee Beans

In this Peet’s Vs Starbucks coffee battle it is time now to talk about the top Starbucks coffee beans. You are probably all too familiar with these.

#1 Starbucks Pike Place Coffee

The name “Pike Place” is in reference to Starbucks first ever coffee shop which was established in the Seattle market area of the city.

It is their most iconic and popular coffee and is often the default coffee used in Starbucks outlets. If you don’t request specific beans, it is likely that your coffee is made with Pike Place coffee beans.

It is a dark roasted South American blend with a very balanced flavor. Expect notes of chocolate and nuts.

Starbucks Pike Place Coffee
Starbucks Pike Place Coffee Beans

#2 Starbucks Sumatra Dark Roast

This is one that I love, a slight bias here. Sumatra is an Indonesia volcanic coffee, dark roasted to perfection with the lowest of acidity levels. It’s less smokey than other Sumatra coffees I have tried. Starbucks Sumatra is a great starting point for both volcanic coffee and those that love Indonesian coffee.

#3 Starbucks Brazilian South American Blend Whole Coffee Beans

The Brazil blend of South American blended coffee is one you will most likely find online and struggle to buy in store. It has very distinctive notes of vanilla and maple while maintaining a fruity and bright taste.

A fantastic choice for a daily cup of coffee.

#4 Starbucks Veranda Blend Coffee

Starbucks have, to use a term, bucked their trend and seem to focus lately on their lighter roasts and blonde roasts. The Starbucks Veranda Blend is exactly that, a blond roast that has slightly more caffeine than other coffee beans.

It’s mild, sweet, and slightly buttery. It is a great blond roast that is worth trying at least once.

Starbucks Veranda Blend Coffee
Starbucks Veranda Blend Coffee Beans

#5 Starbucks Café Verona Coffee Beans

This is a dark roast that is low in acidity and can be best described as a classic flavor with notes of caramel, nuts and chocolate. Many consider this as being too light in flavor.

Starbucks Vs Peet’s: Presentation

Let’s now talk about their presentation and who wins out in this category.

Despite the fact that Starbucks is famed for complicated orders and great coffee. The presentation, I really must say, leaves a lot to be desired. Peet’s most certainly win this round out easily even though the speed of service is a little slower.

When comparing the latte art, I have tried and tested this extensively through various outlets of both companies and found that Peet’s make the more attractive, better looking and eye-catching latte art.

Starbucks Coffee Vs Peet’s Coffee Taste

Starbucks as much as I love coffee, I tend to avoid going there as I find their coffee to be too milky or too watery (I switch between milk and black coffee drinks) and have a pronounced bitter taste.

I simply love a great coffee that cuts through the milk and has a full on coffee taste when made without milk. Peet’s, for me have a much better taste and do get a more traditional coffee flavor coming through their milk and a deeper flavor overall.

It seems to me that Peet’s are the true master roasters here and brew their coffee better.

Starbucks Vs Peet's
Peet’s Coffee Wins Out For Me!

The Environmental Impact

The impact that each company has on the environment and their actions to reduce it is very commendable. Starbucks is famed for their fair trade and is a very ethical coffee company.

Back in 1995, they kick-started a composting program that was focused on composting coffee grounds in their aptly titled “Grounds for your garden”. It focused on permitting customers to pick left-over coffee grounds and pucks that they would take home and compost.

They also have a “bring your own reusable cup” program.

Peet’s is no slouch here either as they reuse 90% of their waste and recycle everything including beans, cups, bags – absolutely everything that they can.

Starbucks certainly won this round, but as always – both can do better until they are both composting 100% of their used coffee grounds and 95% or more of all waste. Rather than throwing out coffee grounds, all coffee shops should at least give it away to garden centers or to farmers locally.

…Or have them sent back to the coffee farms they came from. Why send an empty truck?

 Peet’s Vs Starbucks: The Mobile App

At the time of creating this article I could not find a mobile app for Peet’s. The Starbucks app is an excellent idea. You can simply sit there on your table and order a refill while using your app and wait for it to be brought to you.

It is very convenient and a great idea.

Frequently Asked Questions About Peet’s Vs Starbucks

Is Peet’s Better Than Starbucks?

As a coffee enthusiast and genuine coffee lover, I really could go on for hours about both. It really comes down to your own personal taste, the kind of coffee you enjoy and how you like it brewed. Sure, I have a personal preference for Peet’s rather than Starbucks. Your opinion may vary. Be sure to try both extensively and not just once. Try a variety of coffee beans and coffee drinks before you decide if Peet’s is better than Starbucks.

Even if Peet’s is not better in your opinion, you will appreciate the change to your coffee routine.

Is Peet’s Coffee High Quality?

When it comes to a high quality gourmet coffee and specialty coffee experience you will certainly find that Peet’s is very well known for their high quality and extremely fresh coffee with just your first virgin sip of their coffee. Their quality is notable and evident.

Which Came First Peet’s Or Starbucks?

Peet’s came first as they were the inspiration for Starbucks. The founder of Starbucks was personal friends of Alfred Peet, the founder of Peet’s coffee, and in fact had the same owners very early in their history.

Is Peet’s Owned By Starbucks?

At one point, in 1987, both Starbucks and Peet’s had the same owners. Jerry Baldwin and his fellow investors in Starbucks sold Starbucks to concentrate on Peets. Starbucks new owner Howard Schultz signed a 4-year long non-compete agreement.

Is Peet’s More Expensive Than Starbucks?

Currently, there is not a lot of difference between the two coffee giants in terms of price for their coffee. There is only a slight, unimportant difference. Peet’s is cheaper and serves your coffee in a slightly larger cup size, 16 ounce Vs 12 ounce (480 ml vs 360 ml).

Is Peet’s Coffee Stronger Than Starbucks?

Many coffee lovers consider Peet’s coffee to be stronger than Starbucks. In terms of flavor, yes this is the case but in terms of caffeine content it is actually slightly lower that Starbucks coffee.

Is Peets Cheaper Than Starbucks?

Yes, Peets coffee is cheaper than Starbucks. A Starbucks a Tall 12 Oz (360 ml) iced caramel macchiato will cost US$3.95 while a 16 Oz (480 ml) at Peets will cost US$3.80.

Can I Bring My Own Cup To Peets?

Yes, you can bring your own cup or mug to Peet and get a ten cent discount.

Frappé-Ing It All Up – Peet’s Vs Starbucks

In the battle of Peet’s vs Starbucks, the winner, based on my own preference for coffee experience, size and taste, is Peet’s. This is simply how I love my coffee, with bold traditional flavors in my latte or Americano.

Which do you prefer?

Do you agree or disagree with my observation and opinion?

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Derek Marshall, a certified barista by the Specialty Coffee Association possesses over two decades of experience in specialty coffee shops. He holds professional certifications for coffee brewing and barista skills. Derek is also an author with authoritative books covering various coffee topics including specialty coffee, sustainability and coffee, coffee brewing, coffee recipes, coffee cocktails and books focusing on Brazilian coffee, Vietnamese coffee, Indonesian coffee and Malaysian coffee. As a barista for over two decades, Derek Marshall has worked in specialty coffee shops across the United Kingdom, Spain, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. His expertise extends to the distinct coffee cultures, specialty beverages, and brewing techniques of each nation. Functioning as a coffee consultant, Derek charges US$50 per hour. To learn more about Derek Marshall and Latte Love Brew, visit his About Me Page. For coffee inquiries, contact him at +34-639-410-375 or Derek@LatteLoveBrew.com, mentioning your name and location

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