I may be the last person to the party on this one, but until this very morning, I thought that Seattle's Best Coffee was a competitor of Starbucks. It kinda made sense. Starbucks has the Barnes and Noble Cafe account. Borders has the Seattle's Best account. Some airports have Starbucks. Others have Seattle's Best. And a few - like Hartsfield Jackson Airport in Atlanta - have both. And at the supermarket, both brands appear to battle for shelf space - just as Duncan Hines and Betty Crocker go misto-a-misto with each other in the cake aisle. It all looked like pretty normal competition to me, though Starbucks seemed to clearly have the lead. Then this morning, as I was surfing the web in search of...well, I don't know what...I discovered this remarkable piece of news: Starbucks owns Seattle's Best Coffee.
It's hardly the only company that owns major competitors: laundry titans Tide and Cheer are both produced by that Satan-lovin' brand, Proctor and Gamble, for example. And I suppose that the two coffee titans do occupy different market spaces; the two bookstore chains may have similar cultural cache, but I'm guessing Starbucks was happy that Seattle's Best scored the Steak n Shake account. Still, this not-so-news only heightens my affection for two wonderful small-time roasters that I've come to love over the years: California's amazing Graffeo and Philly's own La Colombe.