Get Great Gourmet Products at Caribou Coffee

Mention gourmet coffee companies and the first company you're likely to think of is Star-something or other. But another company is beating Starbucks in national taste tests.

Caribou Coffee has been ranked first in national taste tests and is the second largest coffee-house company in the world. Those taste tests compared Caribou's coffee favorable to over 40 other brands. Caribou's product must be pretty tasty to rate that highly.

The company was started in Edina, MN, by John and Kim Puckett. The Pucketts then sold the venture to Crescent Capital, an Atlanta, GA, investment firm. From a single store, Caribou has grown to 450 coffee houses nationwide.

Coffee beans and ready-made coffee, both hot and cold, are available at those stores, along with gourmet products like lattes, smoothies, loose-leaf tea and blended drinks. The friendly Caribou staff is happy to make your brew your way. Show your java preference by picking up Caribou Coffee clothing and accessories, such as tote bags and key rings. Of course, the coffee houses also have tasty treats to go with your java. It's a great place to stop for your morning "starter fluid" or a mid-day pick-me-up. Bring your friends to a great place to socialize.

If you have a loved one who's a coffee addict, show your style by giving a gift of Caribou Coffee. They'll admire your good taste and enjoy your gift. With luck, they'll share it with you. Buy your own too, so you have it on hand when you can't get to the coffee house itself. It's also nice to have a supply on hand for your own coffee makers when you have surprise guests over.

Going green is big business these days and Caribou has been doing its share to protect the environment. Caribou is working the Rainforest Alliance to produce an environment-friendly coffee. That effort has not always gotten the most favorable press but the company is determined to be environmentally aware in its business dealings. The company was also the first volunteer sponsor of the Specialty Coffee Association of America's Producer Support Fund to help other members who cannot afford to take part in association activities.

All this success has not come without controversy. In the days immediately after September 11, 2001, some people protested against the company because one of its largest stockholders was the First Islamic Investment Bank of Bahrain, whose chairman was Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Later in the year, al-Qaradawi stepped down from the post.

Now that the controversy has died down, the company can concentrate what it does best - making great coffee. There's a reason that Starbucks is rated second to Caribou. Why not stop in and find out what that reason is? Look in your phone book or online to find the nearest Caribou Coffee outlet and grab a cuppa today.

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