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On April 5, 2013 Caribou Coffee announced that it was closing 80 stores around the US while "rebranding" other stores as Peet's Coffee & Tea. 1,000 employees will lose their jobs with only 9 days notice. Meanwhile, disappointed customers and employees are deluging Caribou's Facebook page with complaints about the drastic closures and "rebranding." Below the swirl of social justice is the explanation.

Caribou Coffee was founded by a young couple who opened their first shop in Edina, Minnesota in 1992. Eight years later they sold their interest to Crescent Capital, later Arcapita of Atlanta, wholly owned by Arcapita Bank of Bahrain. With an Initial Public Offering in in 2005, Caribou Coffee became a publicly traded company and Arcapita sold out.

Now comes the really important part. In 2012 the Joh. A. Benckiser, company of Germany acquired Caribou Coffee for $340 million. This company is part holder of Reckitt Benckiser which is itself a British multinational consumer goods company based in Slough, UK.

So this coffee company which started out in Edina, Minnesota and spread to several states in the US is now part of a multinational conglomerate. And the brand, its employees and customers are all the worse for it.

Since the conglomerate also owns Peet's Coffee & Teas, 88 of the stores will be "rebranded" as Peet's stores. These employees will at least have jobs, but customers who chose Caribou over Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts or other stores, have had that choice negated.

Multinational apparently see all coffee shops and interchangeable commodities and employees as merely expendable. People who felt their neighborhood store as a gathering place which offered a product they liked are irrelevant. In this light, Starbucks drive to put a store on every corner almost makes sense. Coffee is coffee and they want to be the ones to provide it.

I'm not a coffee drinker. I buy coffee for my family who found the "Caribou Blend" of Caribou Coffee is their preference. I did notice that when Caribou was rebranding during the period between their IPO and its acquisition by Benckiser that their tea selection which while limited was very nice went downhill. Instead of the nice, whole leaf Darjeeling, all I could find were flavored teas. Since I actually like the taste of tea, this was disappointing.

We can buy ground Caribou Blend at the grocery store, but the stores in our state are all closing. I can no longer buy whole bean coffee there, and I know my family will miss being able to buy an espresso or mocha from one of their stores. We do have Java Monkey in Decatur, Georgia, a real local coffee shop whose motto is, "Friends don't let friends buy Starbucks," but other than that it's either Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts or Krispy Kreme. We will miss you Caribou.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (33+ / 0-)

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 06:12:06 PM PDT

  •  Not to negate what you write (11+ / 0-)

    but the only reason Caribou was available to you in Georgia was corporatism.

    Java Monkey sounds like a great option. Perhaps they will be the local beneficiaries in this story, and Java Monkey-type real, local coffee shops around the country can also benefit.

    If mom-and-pop type small businesses ever want to be more than mom-and-pop type small businesses they have to sell out to larger investors. That is how it works. That is where the money is made (and when they sell, they don't get nearly the money the multi-nationals get when those coprorations eventually liquidate).

    •  Thanks, badscience. I see that (5+ / 0-)

      having Caribou here in Georgia was a result of corporatism, but it was a nice alternative to the ubiquitous Starbucks. Mom and pops have reaped rewards of selling out to multinational, but it doesn't always work out.

      Another Decatur business sold out to a big corporation only to buy back their store and reopen under a new name. I thought that was pretty cool.

      "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

      by Lily O Lady on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 06:35:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, I can see assigning plenty of (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite, Lily O Lady, nextstep

      blame to the "young couple" who cashed out (probably big time) by selling Caribou Coffee to global corporate interests.

      Not really sure exactly who to get outraged at after reading this story . . .

    •  I Try To Go To Local Restaraunts And Coffee (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lily O Lady, sturunner, corvo

      shops if I can.  I believe that true capitalism is gone because like you said small businesses have to sell out to a monopolist to survive. The little guy gets squeezed and prices become higher for everything because there is no true competition anymore.  There should be a limit on how big a corporation can get.  I believe that is the reason why this country is going down the drain.  Small business such as mom and pop stores are being crushed.  It is up to local business and cities to make laws that keeps big monoplisits from taking over and having true competition which leads to a thriving community.  

      "Don't Let Them Catch You With Your Eyes Closed"

      by rssrai on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 07:03:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My niece worked for Caribou in Edina in (5+ / 0-)

    marketing. I loved the coffee, the only one that could compare with my Lavazza en blue.

    So sad.

    We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty - Edward R. Murrow

    by Susan Grigsby on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 06:25:08 PM PDT

  •  Luckily I use Alterra, a local coffee provider (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lily O Lady, badscience, AnnieR

    if it's handy and I want a gourmet coffee (at home or on the go).  Most folks only have large corporate coffee available.

    I thought that the government mandated 30 days notice before layoffs?  Or is that another federal law that corporations are free to ignore these days.

    Corporations are out of control these days.  Is it time for the torches and pitforks yet?

    Thanks for the diary and history of this company.

    There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

    by Puddytat on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 06:38:58 PM PDT

  •  Peet's has great teas (5+ / 0-)

    for what it's worth. I drink English breakfast and my mother drinks their Darjeeling. Their coffees are really good too.

  •  Meh. Capitalism killed capitalism! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, Lily O Lady, AnnieR

    I can't see anything to lament here.

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 06:40:19 PM PDT

  •  More Like Corporate Globalism I Think. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lily O Lady, Eric Nelson

    Also for the domestic side, the mindset of corporate deregulation such as loosening anti trust regs and letting the decision makers in enterprises take home most of what they can arrange to acquire no matter how enormous.

    A healthy society needs both the economy and the government to be democratic, and that requires all kinds of impositions by government on extremes from market share to individual wealth and so much more.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 06:41:49 PM PDT

  •  I roast my own. If it's bad, it's my fault. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    justiceputnam, Lily O Lady, AnnieR

    Most of the time it kicks ass. At 7:30 am I need a great cup.

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

    by FishOutofWater on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 06:57:32 PM PDT

  •  Peet's is the venerable... (7+ / 0-)

    ... coffee purveyor in the SF Bay area since their inception in 1966.

    They just were bought out by the German concern last year.

    Held out hell of a lot longer than that flash in the pan Caribou.

    Of course, I stopped going to Peet's in the early 90's.

    Cole Coffee in the Rockridge, is my haunt; and had beans shipped to France, when I lived there.

    I don't think Mike will go corporate any time soon.

    A Poet is at the same time a force for Solidarity and for Solitude -- Pablo Neruda / Listen to The After Show and The Justice Department on Netroots Radio

    by justiceputnam on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 06:58:47 PM PDT

  •  PLEASE. NO DD (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AnnieR, chmood

    It's owned by Carlisle Group, the Bushes and the Saudis!

    Look, go to a resale shop and spend a couple bucks on an air popper.

    Then go to the web and buy your coffee beans grean from a local SA coop. Now, I know this sounds complex but it is really easy, and you can roast your own and get amazing coffee while supporting independent growers and preserving the rainforest ecosystem. And you'll save a ton of money.

    It takes about 2 minutes in an air popper to roast a pot of beans. Then grind and enjoy!

    I cannot bear to support the agri-conglomerates that poison the soil and produce such bitter coffee (from the chemicals) that you have to put equal parts of heavy cream to drown out the bitter aftertaste.

    •  It has since gone public (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lily O Lady, grover

      Carlisle did own it for a while.  But it went public (Dunkin Brands, NASDAQ: DNKN) a year or so ago.  Now the biggest  holders are the usual institutional holders, the largest being FMR (Fidelity funds), with other funds also being big holders.

      Also, the local stores are generally franchises, not corporate. So the actual ownership varies.

      I don't love their coffee (often too weak or under-roasted) but their sandwiches are the cheapest edible lunch around.

      •  Agree to flatbread eggwhite (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lily O Lady

        Now to be clear, I am not opposed to--and celebrate--a business that finds a niche and does well.

        And glad to hear that I don't have to rag on spouse when he succombs to that flatbread sandwich he loves.

        But DD is still the chief abettor of the factory farm coffee industry. Coffee is meant to be grown in mixed habitats, shady places with other plants...best tended by family farmers.

        So those of us who are incredibly fussy about coffee can do a lot for the planet by avoiding DD coffee. Takes way too much pesticide to grow all coffee in an area.

        •  Where did you find out about their coffee? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lily O Lady

          I never think of DD coffee as that cheap industrial-grade stuff.  It's roasted a bit lighter than I prefer (Dunkin Dark isn't bad; not complex but quite drinkable) but it's the stores that make it too weak.  Oddly I like the way Dunkin Decaf tastes more than the regular stuff, and I'm not usually a decaf drinker.  

          Rumor is they get the coffee wholesale from New England Coffee Co., f/k/a Winslow's. Given their volume, it can't be the very top, but it's all a darn site better than the awful canned mostly-robusta stuff in supermarkets.  But it's not fair trade.  My favorite at-home coffee is Newman's Own.

      •  Yeah, I don't get why people rave about Dunkin (0+ / 0-)

        Coffee. I bought some. I ended up tossing most into my compost bin.

        The worms loved it!

        © grover


        So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

        by grover on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 12:34:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  My wife loves it, but not what you meant... (0+ / 0-)

          I find it undrinkable.  Coffee is an indulgence for me - the ONE I have left...if it doesn't make me smile and sigh, I DON'T WANT IT.  I'll save my money and do without.

          I am a leaf on the wind - i hover, twirl, float,
          Weightless, frictionless, I fly

          by chmood on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 10:07:01 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Caribou is a member (at least (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      grover

      currently) of the Rainforest Alliance, which is better than some companies. Still, the DIY method sounds nice and the coffee would be fresher, too.

      "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

      by Lily O Lady on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 07:16:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That SO did not work the times I've tried it (0+ / 0-)

      ...and we will not talk about under-raosted beans in beverages.

      I'd love your secret.

      I am a leaf on the wind - i hover, twirl, float,
      Weightless, frictionless, I fly

      by chmood on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 10:02:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If we can't trust our Bahrainian/Germanic (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lily O Lady, grover

    transnational overlords, then who can we trust?

    By the way, the blame starts with the couple who cashed out and sold to a capital firm in the first place. They certainly had every right to do so, but as soon as you do that.... well let's just say read the Frog and the Scorpion.  They can't help themselves; Killing business is in their nature.

    My point is instead of buying your coffee from the big guys in the frst place, locate a more local or regional coffee source.  You'd be surprised, even many smaller or medium size cities have a good coffee shop that imports and roasts their own.

    Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

    by bigtimecynic on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 07:02:12 PM PDT

    •  I was disappointed that they sold out (0+ / 0-)

      so soon. It must be that the fresh enthusiasm of youth waned over time as the reality of running a business set in. And the idea of building a business and selling it has itself been sold. There was a car commercial that characterized their ideal customer as doing that.

      "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

      by Lily O Lady on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 07:20:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  That's too bad - I liked their coffee. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lily O Lady

    Used to be Waffle house who did coffee well.  We'd stop while on the road for a couple to go.  Not anymore.  Guess it's Dunkin from now on.  Wish there were as many of them as there are Starbucks.  I can't stand the taste of their coffee, though I do get a cup now and then because I like the way they care for their employees.

    "They love the founding fathers so much they will destroy everything they created and remake it in Rush Limbaughs image." MinistryofTruth, 9/29/11

    by AnnieR on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 07:16:18 PM PDT

    •  Caribou is sold in supermarkets, and some (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AnnieR

      stores will remain in Minnesota at least, maybe Wisconsin as well. But it is beginning to disappear.

      "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

      by Lily O Lady on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 07:23:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Peets? Ugh. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lily O Lady

    There are no Caribou stores near me (Boston area), just a ton of Dunkins and Starbucks, and some local operations.  But I tried the Caribou House Blend for Keurig, and it wasn't bad.  Dark for a medium roast, though.

    But Peets exists to make Starbucks look like a light roast. I tried it once and decided not to bother again.  It was just burnt.

    We used to have a local chain here called Coffee Connection.  I think it got to 18 stores before selling out to Starbucks.  (It had invented the Frappucino, now a Starbucks item.)  They had great coffee from around the world, not all roasted dark either.  Its founder, George Howell, explained that he once visited the original Peet's in Berkeley and loved the store, except that the coffee stank. So he built CC on a similar model but collected great coffees from around the world.  It was greatly missed after Starbucks used them to get into the Boston market.

    But George didn't retire.  He opened a coffee import business, Terroir, bringing in super-premium coffees, usually to a light roast he called "full flavor".  (He also sells the beans green, at least at his Acton HQ.)  A couple of years ago he bought a storefront coffee shop in Newton and turned it into George Howell Coffee.  More are planned.  It will probably succeed.  New Englander's don't really like out-of-town chains, though Starbucks has done okay. (Dunkin's is local.)  Peet's is still around here, but only a few stores, and not too popular.

  •  Peet's itself started out as a small coffee (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lily O Lady, grover

    counter in Berkeley.  Over the years it slowly expanded to a few more, and then a few more storefronts.  

    It was bought out by a German company a few years back, as I recall.  

    As goes Peet's, so goes Caribou.  

    (the coffee is still good at Peet's...they haven't ruined it)

    It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

    by Radiowalla on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 07:40:47 PM PDT

  •  The couple who created Caribou (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lily O Lady

    now owns a small chain of pizza parlors called Punch and the pizza there is great! Lots of character, not the cookie cutter crap you get from Papa John's.

    If you are in Minneapolis, check them out.

  •  Starbuck, dunkin donuts, or krispie creme? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lily O Lady

    Can't you buy whole bean coffee at the grocer and grind it yourself?

    To any wingnut: If you pay my taxes I'll give you a job.

    by ban48 on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 08:06:06 PM PDT

    •  We do grind our coffee, but the thing (0+ / 0-)

      is to find a blend they guys like. My husband used to like Eight O'Clock coffee, but then he found Caribou Blend. He can get it ground at the grocery store, but he prefers the whole bean variety.

      "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

      by Lily O Lady on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 08:27:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  ? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lily O Lady

    if it ain't organic and fair-trade, it doesn't touch my lips anyway.

    Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

    by corvo on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 08:33:13 PM PDT

  •  Going to bed now. nt (0+ / 0-)

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 09:25:08 PM PDT

  •  I'm not sure what to think. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lily O Lady

    I buy my Caribou (decaf-- I know. I know! But I can't drink leaded after 3pm or I'd never sleep!) from Green Mountsin Coffee, a huge coffee conglomerate.

    I like Peets. I thi k it's a pretty good company all in all, but I've lived in No Cal on and off for decades. When Peets finally opened a shop in WA, I was there the 2nd day.

    I'm such a nerd.

    So I think I'm going to withhold judgement for now. Not every merger means that quality suffers. I have a beloved company that was purchased by a huge corporation that usually destroys businesses once it purchases them. I keep waiting for that to happen. By so far it hasn't. The former owner (who has stayed on as manager) swears it won't.

    It's been a while. He's been right so far.

    Sometimes life gives us gifts.

    :)

    © grover


    So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

    by grover on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 12:30:35 AM PDT

  •  I know Reckitt Benkiser doesn't care or care to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lily O Lady

    know shit about coffee.  They make Lysol.

    They can have a nice hot cup of civet cat coffee and don't tread anywhere near me.

    Ayn is the bane! Take the Antidote To Ayn Rand and call your doctor in the morning: You have health insurance now! @floydbluealdus1

    by Floyd Blue on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 04:49:42 AM PDT

  •  Extra sad, because I am IN LOVE with Peet's (0+ / 0-)

    I can't afford to travel to a real coffee place, (not even JavaMonkey or Atlanta Coffee Roasters), and Major Dickason's Blend appearing in my Publix has been the only coffee worth drinking than I've been able to afford.

    Time to go back to tea, I guess.  Goodbye, Coffea, it was a nice 61 years.

    Hmph

    I am a leaf on the wind - i hover, twirl, float,
    Weightless, frictionless, I fly

    by chmood on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 09:57:51 AM PDT

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