ASHLAND — Alfred Peet, a pioneer of American coffee culture, has died at 87 at his Ashland home, according to the company he founded.

ASHLAND — Alfred Peet, a pioneer of American coffee culture, has died at 87 at his Ashland home, according to the company he founded.

Peet opened the first of Peet's Coffee & Tea stores in 1966, in Berkeley, Calif., and put a small roaster in the shop's back room.

The corner store serving brews from high-altitude beans grown in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and East Africa "quickly became a gathering place for UC Berkeley grads, undergrads, and faculty as well as local intellectuals, radicals, writers, musicians, artisans and any number of the colorful people who still make up Berkeley today," the company said.

After opening more stores and playing an advisory role in the early days of the coffee giant Starbucks, Peet retired in 1983.

Peet was born March 10, 1920, in Alkmaar, Netherlands. He moved to Medford in 2001 and later to Ashland.

He died Wednesday. No local service is planned.

— Wire and staff reports