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Peet’s plan to ride coffee’s third wave

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In a series of moves seen by many as Peet’s bid for top dog of the third-wave coffee world, the national chain snatched up indie darlings Stumptown Coffee Roasters and Intelligentsia Coffee earlier this year.

These acquisitions, which Peet’s CEO Dave Burwick calls “a win” for the company, position Peet’s to pursue future growth, he says.

While there’s little competing with Starbucks in the mainstream coffee market, growth for companies like 237-unit Peet’s—which actually predates the coffee giant—may work best when not trying to.

Though Starbucks does provide artisan sorts of options, even opening a high-end roastery concept in Seattle last year, consumers chasing a super-premium cup of joe will likely spend their money elsewhere.

Offering multiple craft brands, which come with roots in different regions of the country and unique points of appeal, helps put Peet’s on the path to “capture more than our fair share of the [super-premium coffee] market,” Burwick says.

That market, he notes, is driven largely by more-affluent milliennials who look for variety in the products they choose.

“As the coffee industry grows and develops we are striving to connect with many different types of customers,” he says. “By adding an additional brand to our portfolio it allows us to reach a different audience and to share great coffee with more people.”

Peet’s collaboration with Stumptown and Intelligentsia will be “mutually beneficial,” Burwick said, adding that Stumptown’s knowledge of the cold-brew coffee landscape will in turn help its buyer, which launched a cold-brew coffee variety in its stores this summer.

“We see these as strong partnerships between compatible companies with shared values around sourcing, roasting and delivering the highest quality coffees,” he says.

As part of additional efforts to broaden its appeal, Peet’s began testing all-day breakfast in the Chicago market this fall, angling for a slice of the elevated breakfast business that Starbucks and other cafe chains have made gains upon. 

While Burwick says Peet’s isn’t looking to acquire more brands at the moment—though he doesn’t rule it out for the future—Peet’s parent company, JAB Holding Co., announced earlier this month that it is adding to its fold of coffee-focused companies with the purchase of Keurig Green Mountain.   

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