In 1924, recently immigrated Yugoslavian couple, John and Nathalie Vukasin, came to Oakland with the aspiration of opening a boutique gourmet coffee roasting company. The Vukasin’s geared their focus to creating unique, fresh signature coffee blends for local hotels and restaurants, who they serviced with outstanding customer care and dedication. The Peerless reputation grew and became a Bay area institution and nearly a century thereafter, Peerless still stands in Oakland as one of the area’s longest standing family-owned coffee companies rich with the tradition of serving the best craft coffee and world class teas to premier hospitality operations.
The art of roasting specialized coffee is a talent that has been preserved within the Vukasin family for three generations, and the effort put forth is a hallmark trait for the family, and the company. Peerless is currently run by the founders’ grandchildren, George Vukasin Jr., sitting as President & C.E.O., and Kristina Vukasin-Brouhard, holding post as Executive Vice President & General Counsel.
STANDING OUT WITH SPECIALTY ROASTS
Despite the rise of several artisan coffee houses and competition of mega coffee corporations, Peerless has remained a leading coffee and tea provider, and remains nationally recognized as one of the best small batch craft coffee roasters for premier hospitality.
Regardless of their national recognition and business longevity, Peerless Coffee & Tea is not one to announce themselves. Instead, they let their coffee blends and single origin coffee scores of 84+ do the talking for them.
Any coffee that scores above 82 points is considered a specialty coffee, and a score of 84+ means that the coffee is something special.
With specialty coffee ranking as the number one drink of choice for young adults, it is imperative that Peerless maintains their high level of quality and taste while insuring that each artisan blend is created to “meet the discriminating tastes of chefs, foodservice professionals and grocery operators.”
To score high rankings such as this, expertise is required. Trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, George Jr., a self-proclaimed “over-the-top coffee geek”, spends his spare time researching industry trends and perfecting the science and art of crafting the perfect cup of coffee with dedication that rivals that of a wine sommelier.
In 2017, Peerless Coffee was recognized as one of the “Top Craft Coffee Roasters” for the hospitality industry in North America by Roast Magazine in its coveted “Roaster of the Year Award.”
Being awarded this honor is more than just the quality or commitment to coffee, but the criteria includes company mission, marketing, education and business practices, commitment to employees and a proven track record of sustainable practices. George Jr. comments, “We focus on quality; no matter if the price is up or down, and we maintain the relationship with customers so we can better serve them. We also invest in our people and in our product.”
In the last two years, Peerless Coffee has also won a total of 24 medals at the International Golden Bean Awards. In 2017 alone, with 120 roasters submitting 863 of their finest coffees in ten categories, Peerless won 17 medals, including overall chain champion.
In similar fashion to their world famous coffee blends, Peerless uses their artisan techniques to blend and process teas to create the perfect cup of aromatic teas – this include blends of black teas, green teas, herbal teas and tisanes, organic teas, scented teas, iced teas, signature teas, and proprietary Organic Tropic Star iced tea. Each cup of their artisan-blended tea is made with a simple goal in mind; “source the best and deliver fresh.”
For over 40 years, Peerless has been traveling the world to forge farm-direct relationships, and is one of the first specialty coffee roasters in America to do so. George Jr. personally nurtures relationships with farmers in 18 countries.
Before partnerships with farms are made, each farm must meet specific criteria: water and energy conservation, farm-level social programs, sustainable environmental farm programs, and vibrant plant and animal ecosystems.
Once these relationships are set in place, Peerless not only provides a fair wage compensation, but also continues their support by providing farm workers, their families and the communities they reside in access to medical care and education. Their fair trade contribution has aided farm life in quality and production, overall improvement of life, and se r v ices that benef i t the environment and community.
Peerless is organic, kosher, and fair trade certified, and has received both Alameda County’s Green Business Certification and East Bay Municipal Water District’s “Water Smart” Certification, as well as green and sustainable certifications and regional awards.
THE JORDANO’S PARTNERSHIP
Peerless Coffee & Tea’s commitment to excellent quality and service, is a standard that closely aligns with the values at Jordano’s Foodservice. When forming partnerships, it is important to build relationships whose foundations reflect one another.
“Peerless is selective in partnering with customers that expect and require the best, by serving the best.” Kirstin Orman, Marketing Manager says “Peerless attracts high caliber customers because of three generations of family leadership deeply dedicated to exceeding customer expectations. Like Jordano’s, such quality and service standards have contributed to solid long-term relationships with our treasured customers.”
Peerless entrusts Jordano’s with their award winning craft coffees and teas, believing that their product and brand will be represented with the best care. “We admire Jordano’s approach; their philosophies mirror our own.” Remarks George Jr., “Together, Jordano’s and Peerless will provide the hospitality industry with specialty roasts and teas along with state-of-the-art equipment, training, and marketing services.”