An Open Letter from Doug Zell

An Open Letter from Doug Zell

As of today, a portion of Intelligentsia was sold to Peet’s Coffee, the “Granddaddy” of specialty coffee. Speaking for myself, this is an interesting and rewarding place to land. We’ve pushed really hard for over twenty years. This recognizes that we have transformed the landscape about what is possible in coffee; from the way producers are treated and remunerated to how coffee is roasted and valued, the feedback given to producers, to valuing and transforming the skill, hospitality, and craft of barista.

Emily and Geoff and I will continue to have a significant stake in the company and Intelligentsia will continue to operate independently. If anything, this means we will have more muscle and resources to invest in the things that got us here. Peet’s recognizes that we are special and wants to provide a canvas that will allow more of the world to see the picture we are painting. Perhaps a good analogy is we’ve been showing our artwork at a local gallery and now have an opportunity for a spot at the Louvre.

Rest assured the only changes that will be made is that we plan on getting better every day. Deciding to compromise quality is an active choice. It is a choice I am unwilling to make. We have made mistakes and are far from perfect. And that’s just it, we are still learning and will always be chasing perfection with the hope that each time we get close, perfection winks at us and let us know its going to thwart us again and raise the bar yet again and make itself a little harder to reach. I am sure we’ll fumble on some things going forward and we’ll have ourselves to blame. But the pluck, creativity, hard work and effort that got us here aren’t going anywhere.

So if you work at Intelligentsia, buckle up and get ready to hit the gas, but please, enjoy the ride. You’re how we got to here. There’s open road ahead and a hell of tailwind behind us. The opportunities are endless, but as a friend of mine once eloquently said, “The dream is free. The hustle is sold separately.” So, if you’re ready, well, you’ll be ready.

If you are a customer of ours, whether at our coffeebars or a committed wholesale customer, you can count on only one thing. We are going to get better. Now get back to the usual course of things. And if you need a break or some inspiration, might I suggest a cup of Intelligentsia Coffee?

Stars & lightning bolts,

Doug Zell
Intelligentsia Coffee