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(article, Caroline Cummins)
Let's all pour ourselves a cup of freshly roasted, organic, fairly traded, bird-friendly, precisely sourced coffee and raise our mugs to Alfred Peet, the Dutchman who founded Peet's Coffee in Berkeley in 1966. Peet died August 29 in Ashland, Oregon; he was 87. Peet and his carefully sourced java were the inspiration for what eventually became Starbucks, the coffee company that took high-end joe and turned it into a global force. Peet was responsible not so much for the latte revolution as the decent-coffee revolution, saying no to percolators and other instruments of coffee torture. The fact that cafés nationwide — along with millions of American homes — now offer high-quality coffee is due largely to him. [%image feed-image float=right width=350 credit="Photo: iStockphoto/digiguru" caption="Freshly picked coffee cherries on a plantation in Costa Rica."] Even the New York Times has taken notice, chronicling Peet's legacy with a recent article on the next generation of coffee geeks. The goal of the geeks? To find and buy the best coffee in the world, wherever it's grown. And oh, yeah, to pay fair prices and encourage coffee production that's considerate of the environment and the well-being of its workers. As Peter Meehan reported in the Times_: bq. “Direct trade” is the most popular name of the style of business practiced by these coffee companies, known as roasters. It means, most simply, that the roasters buy their beans directly from the farms and cooperatives that grow them, not from brokers. bq. It also represents, at least for many in the specialty coffee world, an improvement on labels like Fair Trade, bird-friendly or organic. bq. By spending months every year visiting farms, these roasters seek to offer coffee that is produced as well as it can be, bought responsibly and roasted carefully. They aim, simply, to sell the best coffee possible. Wake up and smell the coffee that many of us have come to take for granted.