I was in a Peet’s Coffee today and while waiting for my drink noticed a stack of job applications. No, I wasn’t thinking about applying, but I was struck by how the applications looked. Normally applications are simple 1-sheet affairs with a list of questions on the front. This one had a whole bunch of prose. Curious, I picked it up. Here’s how it starts:
Application for Employment
First, a little Peet’s History
Known as the “grandfather of specialty coffee,” Peet’s Coffee and Tea has been a Berkeley institution since 1966 when Alfred Peet opened the first Peet’s store — with a roasting machine on the premises — at the corner of Vine and Walnut. Since that time our mission has remained unchanged — to pursue uncompromosing quality in every cup of Peet’s coffee or tea. By remaining steadfast in our quality commitment, Peet’s has spawned a devout following of loyalists who will attest that once you drink Peet’s coffee, it is unlike any other.
This is a wonder of compactness: a huge amount of legacy and what it means to be a Peet’s customer and employee is packed into this one paragraph. And the fact that they are addressing you — the prospective employee — with real language, not empty blather about “customer service” and “values” says a lot. This is a job to take seriously, not just kill time with.
Peet’s has grown considerably since its beginnings with stores across the country… Essentially, though, Peet’s hasn’t changed much. We remain committed to delivering the highest quality and sharing an enduring passion for coffee and tea with our customers. Employees take pride in their work and their company and endeavor to provide the best customer service of any coffee company in the world. Peet’s prides itself on providing extensive training and enjoys hiring from the surrounding communities so that local ambassadors of the Peet’s brand operate our stores.
After the standard questions about contact info, days desired to work, work experience, etc. it has several questions that actually require some thought:
- What do you think you will enjoy about working for Peet’s?
- What is your definition of customer service?
- How often do you drink coffee or tea? What is your favorite type of coffee or tea?
These help weed out the people who are just looking to clock-in, clock-out, and screens for people who are genuinely enthusiastic about the product and the store. It helps ensure that they hire people who will be articulate and able to think on their feet and not have to resort to asking the manager for everything, or falling back on rote procedures, even if they go against what’s best for the customer.
It used to be that Starbucks had happy and enthusiastic employees who did a good job with coffee; today they are more likely to be bored and indifferent, or happy and get it wrong. It used to be that Peets had haughty, indifferent employees who made very good coffee; today they have happy, congenial employees who make very good coffee. I’ve been in enough of both establishments to know that both past and current personas are not accidental.
The Peet’s experience starts right at the beginning, with setting the tone of the job application.