Tuesday, October 6, 2015
Consolidation: Peet's Buys Stumptown
While the illustration above pretty well sums up what many in the trade think Stumptown has done, the only thing that surprises me about this news (you can read more here) is that it's taken this long.
Dare we hope that Portland and environs finally gets some coffee that's actually seen the inside of a drum roaster past first pop? Probably not, but joking aside Peet's scale and tremendous sourcing expertise, access to capital and infrastructure will be huge plusses for Stumptown.
Of course cold brew is the main reason given for the buy, but what one wishes Peet's would get out of this, in carefully reviewing Stumptown's marketing of its coffee, is a reminder of the focused, product-driven and passionate company it itself once was and could be again. Unfortunately the legendary Berkeley-based firm has utterly and totally lost its way, going from a product-driven purist of the highest order to a faltering, unfocused marketing-driven machine with said marketing reflecting no discernible strategy or position. In selling their souls they didn't even get a good price and went out with a whimper not a bang.
The procession of boneheaded moves in recent years at Peet's is beyond counting, but includes acknowledging third wave farm-to-cup positioning by disclosing the name of exactly one farm (San Sebastian in Antigua) on its menu board; halfheartedly offering a couple of medium roasts and exactly one light one after three decades of "deep" roasting; utterly abandoning even the pretense of having the quality of the non-coffee items sold match that of the coffee; and most recently trashing one of the best whole leaf tea brands in American retail history in favor of flavored crap under the Mighty Leaf label.
Here's hoping they do indeed leave Stumptown alone as they've said they'd do (of course Starbucks said the same thing about The Coffee Connection and we all know how that turned out).
Stay tuned for further mergers and acquisitions.