Caribou coffee shop leaves Oakland, Peet’s enters

By Abbey Reighard / Staff Writer

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An Oakland coffee shop, popular among students looking to study and to get their caffeine fixes, turned off its espresso machines for the last time earlier this month.  

But never fear, coffee lovers: the Caribou Coffee that closed on Sept. 9 will reopen in mid-October as Peet’s Coffee and Tea.

Caribou Coffee’s Oakland location was one of 80 shops across the U.S. that recently shut down, and another 88 stores will be rebranded as Peet’s Coffee and Tea stores in their place. In addition to the chain’s location in Oakland, three others in the Pittsburgh area — one each in South Side, Brentwood and at the Waterworks Mall — have closed and will reopen as locations for Peet’s Coffee and Tea.

More than 610 Caribou Coffee stores in 20 states and the District of Columbia remain open. Almost half of these locations are in Minnesota, where the company was founded in 1992. Although all locations in Pennsylvania will be closed, some locations in Minnesota and other states will remain open for now.

The Joh. A. Benckiser Group, a company based in Germany, completed an agreement to acquire Caribou Coffee, which is based in Minneapolis, Minn., last December. According to an SEC report, Joh. A. Benckiser, which also owns the high-end fashion house Jimmy Choo and cosmetics company Coty, acquired the company for about $340 million.  The group also holds Peet’s from a purchase made last October. Peet’s founder, Alfred Peet, opened his first store in Berkeley, Calif., in 1966. Over the past four decades, Peet’s has expanded to approximately 300 locations. 

Blythe Posner, a representative for Caribou Coffee, repeated a statement made by Caribou Coffee CEO Mike Tattersfield from April, when the changes within the coffee shop chain were first publicly announced.  

“While the decisions we’ve made have been difficult for our team in Minneapolis, as well as our team members across the country and our guests and fans everywhere, we are working to make this transition as seamless as possible for the Caribou community,” said Tattersfield. 

Tattersfield stated that Caribou’s business strategy was revised, with analysts examining market reactions, throughout the year to find a better long-term plan. According to Tattersfield, Caribou Coffee locations that had been “underperforming” were converted to Peet’s Coffee and Tea. 

Representatives from Peet’s did not respond to multiple requests for comment. 

Samantha Proctor, a junior at Pitt and former barista at Caribou Coffee, started working at the coffee shop this past summer and continued working there until it closed.

She said that business at the shop had been steady, and some regulars did not welcome the news of the store’s closing.

“People were pretty devastated. A lot of the customers were heartbroken,” said Proctor.

Former employees at the Caribou Coffee in Oakland have been offered jobs when the tea house opens in October. Proctor expects to resume working at the location when that happens. After reconstruction, the employees will be retrained.

Even though, as Proctor said, regulars were disappointed with the closure, it didn’t make much of a  difference to anyone else.

Pitt junior Tom Diehl said he had occasionally enjoyed eating at Caribou Coffee, but it wasn’t his favorite spot in Oakland.

Diehl said he had found out about the store closing through a friend. Although he enjoyed the atmosphere that Caribou Coffee used to offer, he was not “particularly shocked or upset” by the news of the cafe’s closing.

Devin Costello, a senior at Pitt, said that she had been to Caribou Coffee on several occasions to study, and she is anxious to see if the new Peet’s will be similar to the old Caribou.

“It’s a more rustic environment,” she said of Caribou.

She  found out about Caribou’s closing prior to its last days thanks to the signs posted on the doors and windows of the building.

“I hadn’t heard of Peet’s, but I looked it up to see what it would be like there. I’ll try it and see if like it,” said Costello.

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