About 45 years since first setting up shop in Berkeley, the ninth Peet’s Coffee & Tea in the city is opening its newest store this fall on College and Alcatraz avenues, right on the Oakland border.
After several years of eyeing the storefront — located 3200 College Ave. — Peet’s has begun construction at the lot that previously housed A’Cuppa Tea, a coffee and tea shop that is relocating to College and Webster Street.
“We have a long history in Berkeley from when Alfred Peet opened the first store on Vine and Walnut,” said Erika Hess, senior manager of community relations at Peet’s. “People appreciate how we handcraft our coffee, and we want to serve those who have a deep interest in specialty coffee and tea.”
While A’Cuppa Tea is moving down two blocks, Peet’s still faces Cole Coffee, the much-loved jewel among coffee aficionados on College and 63rd Street. When asked whether Cole Coffee considers Peet’s as a possible threat or as competition, Michael Murphy — owner and manager of Cole Coffee — said he is not really worried.
“I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and there’s always somebody moving in the neighborhood. People will go there, and they’ll also come here,” he said.
Hess called it a “coffee community.”
“I frequent Cole Coffee myself,” she said. “We hope people will come to our store and enjoy a cup there, too. There’s a lot of room for growth in the coffee and tea category.”
However, Murphy said another cafe in the area is one too many.
“There are so many coffee shops now — it’s almost ridiculous,” he said. “It seems like there’s one on every corner of every block.”
Peet’s had been trying to open up shop at this location for quite a while, according to Hess.
“They’ve been trying to get into this neighborhood for at least 10 years and always got turned down,” Murphy said.
When the building landlord informed Peet’s that the lot was vacant, they took the opportunity to move in right away, Hess said.
“They have the power, and they have the money to back them up, now that they’re in grocery stores and airports,” said Murphy. “They deserve that. They’ve been here for a long time.”
Construction work so far seems to capture the distinctive look of Peet’s, which has grown to become a nationally-recognized icon since its launch in the Bay Area more than four decades ago.
“Our purpose is to be in a community where there’s appreciation for what we do,” Hess said. “We empower our employees and store managers to be active in our local community — to be involved and integrate into the community and not be standoffish. Berkeley is our home.”