Don't Like Starbucks? Surprise! Says Seattle's Best


Stewart Brothers Coffee was surely not the first company to serve espresso drinks in Seattle's Pike Place Market, but around 1990, it was deemed by a local taste test to be Seattle's Best. What a great name, poking sly fun at Starbucks, Seattle's first, biggest and most famous, yes? So in 1991, Seattle's Best Coffee (SBC) was born.

A few acquisitions, 12 years, and not a little irony later, Starbucks became the owner of SBC, and would, full of either hubris or humor, keep the brand's name intact.

And thus was born a future for Michelle Gass, who is (as I learned in a review of CEO Howard Schultz' new book) his favorite executive at Starbucks, always eager to take on whatever impossible challenge he might set before her. Such as this one: Sell Starbucks coffee to people who don't like Starbucks, who find it too burnt (Howard calls this a "Full City Roast"), who are still sure Starbucks doesn't give free coffee to our troops (that's been myth-busted many a time), or who don't care for the way Starbucks has driven independent coffee shops out of business.