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Seattle's Best Coffee

Seattle's Best Coffee
Product type Coffee
Owner Starbucks
Country United States
Related brands Focus Brands
Markets Worldwide
Previous owners AFC Enterprises
Website .com.seattlesbestwww

Seattle's Best Coffee, a wholly owned subsidiary of Starbucks, is a specialty coffee retailer and wholesaler based in Seattle, Washington.

Seattle's Best Coffee has retail stores and grocery sub-stores in 20 states and provinces and the District of Columbia. Sub-stores can also be found within many other businesses and college campuses, including Subway restaurants.

Seattle's Best Coffee is generally cheaper than that of its parent, and is marketed as more of a working class coffee compared to the more upmarket Starbucks.[1]


  • History 1
  • Distribution partners 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Seattle's Best Coffee began as a combination ice cream and coffee shop called the Wet Whisker on Whidbey Island, northwest of Seattle, Washington in 1970. Founder Jim Stewart purchased green coffee beans from local roasters to be roasted and sold at the Wet Whisker. By the end of the second summer, the shop had roasted and sold nearly 500 pounds (226 kg) of coffee. By the end of the following year, the Vashon Island Wet Whisker was sold, and Jim Stewart, along with his brother Dave, opened another ice cream and coffee store on Pier 70 on Seattle's Waterfront. The shop was called Stewart Brothers Wet Whisker. In 1982, Stewart Brothers Wet Whisker began serving espresso based beverages alongside other coffee products.

In 1983, the name again changed from Stewart Brothers Wet Whisker to Stewart Brothers Coffee. Shortly after, business began to expand, and new shops opened in Bellevue, Washington, and in Seattle's historic Pike Place Market a year later. In 1991, the company was renamed "Seattle's Best Coffee" after winning a local competition. One of the highest volume coffee shops in the 1990s was the Seattle's Best Coffee on 4th and Pine at the Westlake Center in Seattle. A manager was hired, Kim Whittle and within 3 years she took that location from $700,000 to $1.3 million. The sales were not espresso machines or even bulk beans, 85% of the sales were in cups (drip, lattes, mochas, Italian sodas and Americanos). This location was rumored to be one of the highest volume coffee shops in the world. Around 1995, Seattle's Best Coffee was purchased by a group of investors who own Torrefazione Italia. They formed a new company made up of both parties called Seattle Coffee Holdings. In 1997, Seattle Coffee Holdings changed its name to Seattle Coffee Company.

Seattle's Best Coffee at Market! Market! in Metro Manila, Philippines

In 1998, AFC Enterprises purchased Seattle Coffee Holdings and began franchising the Seattle's Best Coffee brand. During AFC Enterprise's ownership, Seattle Coffee Company's Vashon Island roasterie was upgraded and the company's organic coffee line was established. AFC Enterprises sold SCC to Starbucks in July 2003, retaining franchise rights in eleven countries, Hawaii and U.S. military bases.

Starbucks closed the Vashon Island facility October 23, 2003 and moved production to their Kent, Washington roasterie. The historic Vashon Island roasterie building, Jim Stewart's original 1952 roaster and roastmaster Peter Larsen while no longer affiliated with SBC or Starbucks continues operations as The Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie.

Distribution partners

The Borders bookstore chain signed a contract with Seattle's Best Coffee in 2004 to convert Borders' in-store cafes to Seattle's Best cafes. By 2006, approximately two-thirds of Borders' domestic superstores had completed the Seattle's Best conversion. Seattle's Best parent company Starbucks Corporation has contracted with Borders' competitor Barnes & Noble to sell its products in Barnes & Noble's Cafes. (Borders has since completely shut down due to bankruptcy.) Starbucks also owns and operates locations within Chapters and Indigo Books and Music bookstores in Canada.

Seattle's Best Coffee Cafes and Kiosks can also be found on all 21 ships in the fleet of the cruise line Royal Caribbean International under the name "Latte-Tudes" or "Cafe Promenade". The presence of the Seattle's Best outlets on Royal Caribbean is also tied in with all other free-of-charge coffee items on the ship also being exclusively supplied by SBC. The Oasis class ships also have Starbucks outlet with the regular land price list, SBC is for-free (included in cruise cost)

On February 16, 2010, Burger King announced that they would add Seattle's Best Coffee to their menu in over 7,000 restaurants.[2]

On May 12, 2010, Starbucks announced a rebranding of Seattle's Best Coffee, with a new logo and plans to expand Seattle's Best Coffee distribution from 3,000 locations to 30,000 by the end of the 2010 fiscal year.[3] The rebranding of the Seattle's Best Coffee logo from the detailed, vintage logo to the clinical, generic design for the new mass market was met with much criticism, with the new logo being likened to a label for eye-drops, a blood-bank sign and a gas station logo.[4]

On February 8, 2011, Delta Air Lines and Seattle's Best entered into an agreement to offer Seattle's Best Coffee onboard all domestic, international, and Delta Connection flights beginning March 1, 2011.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Wong, Elaine (May 13, 2010). "Why Starbucks Rebranded Seattle's Best Coffee". Adweek. Retrieved October 30, 2012. 
  2. ^ Assiociated Press (February 16, 2010). "Burger King adds Seattle's Best Coffee to menu". Retrieved October 30, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Seattle's Best Coffee Reinvents Its Business Model And Brand As Part Of Major Growth Strategy". Starbucks Newsroom. May 12, 2010. Retrieved October 30, 2012. 
  4. ^ Grunbaum, Rami (May 15, 2010). "Seattle's Best logo makeover not so hot". The Seattle Times. Retrieved February 18, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Delta Air Lines and Seattle's Best Coffee Team Up to Serve Freshly Brewed Premium Coffee Onboard All Flights". Starbucks Newsroom. February 8, 2011. Retrieved October 30, 2012. 

External links

  • Official website
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