The Story of Seattle's Best Coffee - As Told by a 1992 Pike Place Market Cookbook (@SeattlesBest)

IMAG6324 Seattles Best Coffee History Lesson
IMAG6324 Seattles Best Coffee History Lesson

I noticed that in my kitchen, I have a 1992 Pike Place Market cookbook.  I opened it up and started reading the descriptions of the stores in the Market. (Many of which no longer exist).  I don't know about you, but I'm not terribly knowledgeable about the history of Seattle's Best Coffee.  I thought super fun to read the story and history of Seattle's Best Coffee as told through the lens of the company in 1992 - that would have been long before they were purchased by Starbucks. and dating to a time when they had to have been an extremely small business. It's amazing how much has happened to Seattle's Best Coffee over the years.  It truly makes my heart ache a bit that this year, Starbucks closed the Post Alley location of Seattle's Best Coffee.   That's a Starbucks decision that I am still not quite comfortable with.

I took a few photos of the Post Alley Seattle's Best in September 2012, and I wish I had taken more.  And there are two more photos of the Post Alley Seattle's Best which I took in January 2012, during a snowy wintery day.

Here's the Seattle's Best story:

Open since 1984, SBC, Seattle's Best Coffee, is an ideal Market meeting place because its foamy lattes, indoor and outdoor seating, and relaxed European atmosphere.  The place attracts both locals and tourists alike, perhaps because of its welcoming neon coffee-cup sign, or perhaps because of its central location at Post Alley and Pine.  If you get a seat at the back counter, you can take full advantage of Seattle's clean, bracing air, and get a good view of the sky, the top of the Olympic Mountains, and the tips of totem poles in nearby Victor Steinbrueck Park.

SBC traces its history back to 1968, to a young optometry student in Los Angeles who love the smell but hated the taste and nerve-shattering effects of coffee.  Nonetheless, Jim Stewart needed a job while attending school, so he went to work at a specialty coffee and tea shop, where he learned that high-quality coffees not only tasted good but contained less caffeine than tin-can coffees from the supermarket.

Today Jim is known as "Bwana Kahowa," or Mr. Coffee, in Africa, one the many places he visits (along with Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia) in search of the highest-grade coffees.  He likes to touch the raw beans, shake hands with the people who grow them, and witness how they're handled from picking basket to shipping bag to ensure the best-quality beans.  "We look for the small producers who use the old methods and practice coffee handling as an art," Jim explains.

Once SBC beans find their way back to Seattle, they're roasted in small batches daily on Vashon Island in the "German-style northern European roast," a lighter roast than the full city roast favored by other coffee purveyors in town.  SBC's Pike Place Market location, with its distinctive red bumbershoots handing upside down from the ceiling, sells espresso drinks, whole-bean coffees, and an extensive line up coffee brewing, grinding, and serving accessories.

IMAG6325 Pike Place Market Cookbook - 1992 edition 2
IMAG6325 Pike Place Market Cookbook - 1992 edition 2
IMAG6326 1992 Pike Place Market Cookbook
IMAG6326 1992 Pike Place Market Cookbook