Zagat Is Wrong: Peet's Is Better Than Starbucks

Bad methodology gave Seattle giant the survey win: Nate Silver
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 9, 2009 11:27 AM CDT
Pat O'Dea, president and chief executive officer of Peet's Coffee & Tea, toasts the first official roast in front of Peet's new artisan roasting facility, located in Alameda, California.   (PRNewsFoto/Peet's Coffee & Tea, Inc., John Storey)
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(Newser) – Zagat’s annual fast-food survey served up its usual batch of surprises, but one stood out for Nate Silver of fame. Somehow, some way, Starbucks beat Peet’s Coffee for best coffee chain. A travesty of that magnitude can only mean mistaken methodology, Silver contends; Starbucks is fine, but as any San Franciscan can tell you, it’s no Peet’s.

Zagat asked 6,000 people to rank the chains on a 0-to-3 scale. The trouble is that Peet’s has only about 200 stores, to 11,000 Starbucks, so the Seattle java giant gets far more ratings. Silver’s guessing that in a heads-up match with people who’ve tried both, Peet’s would win. To test his theory, he checked Yelp. Sure enough, they’re even overall, but among the 11 who’ve reviewed both, Peet’s dominates.