Caribou Coffee, which has long struggled to compete with Starbucks, is going to be closing many of its outlets on the east coast and some midwestern markets. But as a coffee drinker, I see this as good news. Most of the shuttered Caribou branches are going to reopen as Peet’s Coffee outlets.
It’s a move that’s more or less been in the works since last year when a Germany private equity firm—the Jo. A Benckiser Group GmbH—took Caribou private. They already owned a majority stake in Peet’s and it doesn’t really make a ton of sense to operate two separate regional coffee chains both of which are clearly outpaced by Starbucks. I have fond recollections of Peet’s from back when I lived in Massachusetts and their brand also seems to be strong on the west coast. The reconfigured smaller Caribou is essentially going to be retreating to its home market in the the northern midwest and will operate stores in Minnesota (where it’s based), North Dakota, South Dakota, Western Wisconsin, Iowa, and Kansas along with outliers in North Carolina and Colorado. The stores in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Illinois, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia are going to be converted to Peet’s over the next year and a half and I’m looking forward to it.