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Peet's Coffee Introduces 'Slow Bar' at New D.C. Store

The third-wave, indie coffee culture is rubbing off on the chain

Peet’s Coffee Georgetown Provided

Peet’s Coffee & Tea is jumping on the third-wave coffee train: Now that it owns Portland-based Stumptown Roasters and Chicago-based Intelligentsia Coffee, some of that indie, third-wave coffee culture is rubbing off on Peet’s, the roaster known for its strong brews — and for playing a distant second fiddle to Starbucks. According to Nation’s Restaurant News, Peet’s newest location in Washington D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood sports a “slow bar.” That’s what the San Francisco-based coffee company is branding a counter that features pour-over and siphon brewing methods, now de rigueur at modern coffeehouses across the country.

“I think the reason we did this is because people are experimenting with different brewing methods and we wanted to showcase those methods,” Peet’s chief executive officer David A. Burwick told Eater. In short, Peet’s is keeping up with the times.

The new D.C. coffeeshop model was built with the concept of the slow bar in mind, Burwick said, and to offer customers a place to interact with the baristas preparing siphon, French press, and pour-over coffee drinks.

This is the first location of Peet’s slow bar. It’s a test site; in the coming months the company will gauge how well it does and consider remodeling existing stores and incorporating the concept into new ones. Peet’s is growing rapidly, having doubled its sales in the last four years, according to Burwick, from around $400 million to $800 million.

To accommodate this growth, Peet’s will open an East Coast roastery in Suffolk, Va. The new facility will break ground next year with a targeted opening in 2018, Burwick said. The roastery’s location will cut down on the time between roasting and delivery, to “get fresher beans in the hands of everybody that lives up and down the Eastern Seaboard,” Burwick said. The roastery will be about the same size as the company’s primary facility in Alameda, Calif., and the building will be LEED certified.

Peet’s roasts more than 30 different coffees, and customers at the D.C. store can select their beans and follow them through the brewing process. (As a point of comparison, Starbucks roasts 28 different types of coffee globally, not counting its new Reserve line. This year’s Reserve run offered more than 70 different small-lot blends.)

At Peet’s, a cup of coffee brewed with the siphon method goes for $8, compared to around $2.50 for a regular drip coffee. Meanwhile, a Starbucks’ siphon brew at its Reserve bars (where a counter sports V60 drippers and siphons) costs around $12 but varies based on the type of beans used. Starbucks’ standard drip coffee costs around $2 for its smallest size. (It’s worth noting that a siphon brew is typically more than one 8 oz. pour.)

Both the introduction of a slow bar and the forthcoming roastery suggest the company is going after its longtime competitor. Starbucks has been rolling out its Reserve bars for the past year, and has opened or announced the opening of Roastery locations — larger roasting facilities that also serve a wide variety of espresso-based beverages — in cities like New York and Shanghai.

The parent company for Peet’s is JAB Holding Co., which owns a large chunk of the coffee market with Keurig Green Mountain, Krispy Kreme, Caribou Coffee, and Einstein Brothers in its portfolio. Additionally, there is talk of the company acquiring Dunkin’ Donuts, which would cement its standing as a powerhouse of internationally recognizable coffee brands.

Peet’s Shows off Coffee Varieties With ‘Slow Bar’ [NRN]
Starbucks Hopes to Win Over Coffee Snobs With More Fancy Coffee Shops [E]
Dunkin’ Donuts Could Be Worth Nearly $7 Billion [EBOS]
All Peet’s Coffee Coverage [E]

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