Buying Guides

Seattle’s Best vs. Starbucks Coffee


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Both Starbucks and Seattle’s Best North American coffee houses started in the Seattle, Washington area in the early ’70s, but the two brands are very different. Which company makes better cups of coffee? Both choices have their pros and cons, so let’s compare Seattle’s Best with Starbucks with an in-depth side-by-side analysis.

seattle's best vs starbucks

At a Glance: Seattle's Best Coffee vs Starbucks Coffee

Get to Know the Brands

Here’s a brief history and overview of Seattle’s Best and Starbucks.

Seattle’s Best Coffee

Seattle’s Best began modestly in 1970 as Stewart Brothers coffee, situated on Seattle’s Pier 70. The American coffee retailer eventually outgrew its location and moved to Vashon Island off the West coast to continue servicing the people of Seattle.

After winning a competition to determine the best cup of coffee Seattle had to offer, the company changed its name to Seattle’s Best. 

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While Seattle’s Best has not yet extended its presence overseas, the brand is prominent in stores across America, which it has been servicing for over 50 years.

Roasted coffee blends and K-Cups are available at retailers like Target and Wal-Mart nationwide.

Seattle’s Best Coffee’s most famous signature blend is Henry’s Blend, named after a cat that would always warm up by the company’s coffee roaster.

It’s described as dark, complex, robust, and energizing— a bit of an ironic fact considering that its namesake was a sleepy cat. Many patrons love the blend’s aromatic scent.

Starbucks Coffee Company

Starbucks is an American company recognized as the largest coffee chain in the world. It’s headquartered in Seattle, Washington, and the first Starbucks cafe opened close to Pike Place, a historic West Coast marketplace. 

The company was founded in 1971 by Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl, and Gordon Bowker, who took inspiration from Alfred Peet, a Dutch coffee entrepreneur, and business affiliate.

Their goal was to create and sell higher-quality coffee beans and equipment to the public. The company’s name was inspired by the first mate in Herman Melville’s classic book, Moby Dick

Almost two decades after its founding, Starbucks was purchased in 1987 by Howard Schultz, who vowed to bring Italian coffee’s taste, quality, and feeling to the United States through Starbucks.

Schultz expanded the marketing and quality of Starbucks (then just a handful of coffee shops), allowing it to gain traction internationally. 

Starbucks’ signature roast is called the Pike Place blend, named after the location of its 1971 founding. It consists of medium roast coffee beans with notes of chocolate and toasted nuts. 

Pros and Cons of Each Brand

When comparing Seattle’s Best vs. Starbucks, the key differences are pretty clear. Here’s a brief overview of their respective pros and cons.

Pros of Seattle’s Best

Seattle’s Best prides itself on the consistency of its extraordinary coffee. Whether it’s coffee grounds or a K-Cup, the brand strives to create a customer experience that is routinely good, and this is backed up by the relative agreement across its product reviews

The company’s focus on consistency is made possible through its careful, attentive brewing methods.

Though the company is smaller than the coffee giant Starbucks, it has the advantage of brewing a cup that evokes feelings of authenticity and hominess. 

You can find 12-ounce bags of Seattle’s Best ground coffee on the shelves at retailers like Walmart, and the prices are usually very economical compared to other coffee brands, such as Starbucks.

This gives you the freedom to try as many blends as you’d like without worrying about the costs stacking up. 

Cons of Seattle’s Best

While you can expect a good cup of coffee from Seattle’s Best, there isn’t a large variety to choose from. Not counting decaf varieties, the company website only lists eight different blends. 

Furthermore, while K-Cups are available, only six are listed on the brand’s website—not one of which is the brand’s signature Henry’s Blend—so you might not be able to enjoy your favorite Seattle’s Best coffee from your Keurig. 

The company brews coffee blends that range between medium and dark roast only. If you are someone who likes lighter roasted coffee, such as Starbucks’ blonde roast coffees, you may be unable to find Seattle’s Best flavors that you enjoy as easily.

Seattle’s Best, though authentic coffee, only makes its products in two forms: ground coffee blends and K-Cups. If you are the kind of drinker who prefers instant coffee or whole bean coffees, you might be out of luck.

In addition, there aren’t that many decaffeinated coffee options available, the sole product being the company’s Portside Blend Decaf.

Pros of Starbucks Coffee

Starbucks offers a variety of coffee beans, but the company is best known for its dark roast and medium roast arabica coffees. However, because of the relative darkness of the brand’s roasts, Starbucks has a reputation for creating bitter coffees. 

If bitter coffee isn’t for you, then I recommend browsing the brand’s many light blonde coffees—with a selection as extensive as Starbucks’, there’s bound to be a good fit for everyone. 

In addition to having a wide selection, Starbucks is relatively cheap and accessible, both online and in stores. Instant and whole bean varieties, K-Cups, other coffee-related goods and accessories are available at each physical location and online.

Some patrons believe that Starbucks’ Reserves coffees far surpass other retailers’ coffees in terms of quality.

Starbucks has the additional advantage of offering coffee made to order at each store location, allowing each franchise to double as a cafe and a coffee retailer.

The popular chain cafe offers regular and frozen coffee beverages such as Frappuccino coffee drinks and food.

Cons of Starbucks

There are some criticisms of Starbucks’ coffee, including the bitter taste of the more popular roasts. Some patrons believe that the roast does not enhance the flavor of the coffee or that it destroys nuances of taste. You may think the coffee is too strong or even burnt.

Because of the efficiency of Starbucks’ coffee production, not all of the company’s roasting happens consistently.

In fact, some user reviews suggest that their experiences with Starbucks coffee offerings are inconsistent, varying between having either too much flavor or too little. 

Similarly, some Starbucks patrons think that the company has changed the formulas of some of its more signature blends, such as the House Blend. Changing recipes or flavor notes over the years may be to blame for some of the claims of inconsistency.

In addition, Starbucks is well-known for its rotating stock of seasonal flavored coffees, including flavors like Pumpkin Spice in the autumn.

That means that some of your favorite Starbucks coffee flavors might not be available year-round, especially at retail stores. 

Starbucks also sometimes discontinues long-running blends, meaning that the availability of a particular coffee at any given time is not guaranteed. 

Lastly, Starbucks ground coffee is often sold in 12-ounce bags at retailers. While the prices of these bags may vary, they are often a few dollars more expensive than other brands of coffee, including Seattle’s Best.

If you’re on a tight budget, other options might be worth considering.

Top Picks

Quick Summary: Seattle's Best Coffee and Starbucks Coffee

Seattle's Best Coffee Henry's Blend Dark Roast Ground Coffee, 12 Ounce (Pack of 1)Seattle's Best Coffee Henry's Blend Dark Roast Ground Coffee
  • Dark Roast Ground Coffee
  • 12 Ounce
  • robust flavor
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Starbucks Medium Roast Ground Coffee - Pike Place Roast - 100% Arabica - 1 Bag (20 Oz.)Starbucks Medium Roast Ground Coffee
  • 100% Arabica
  • 20 Oz
  • Medium_roast
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Seattle's Best Coffee House Blend Medium Roast Ground Coffee, 12 Ounce (Pack of 1)Seattle's Best Coffee House Blend Ground Coffee
  • Medium Roast
  • Ounce
  • Premium beans
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Starbucks House Blend Whole Bean Coffee, 40 OunceStarbucks House Blend Whole Bean Coffee
  • 40 Ounce
  • Medium roast
  • Whole bean coffee
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When comparing Seattle’s Best vs. Starbucks, both have their signature brands to consider. Take a look at the top two from each coffee shop below.

Seattle’s Best Henry’s Blend

We recommend Seattle’s Best Henry’s Blend to anyone who loves ground coffee. This blend will certainly stimulate your nose, mind, and taste buds with its energizing yet comfortable flavor.

As a bonus, you’ll get to save a few bucks without compromising the quality of your coffee experience. 

Things We Like

  • Made with robust 100% Latin American arabica beans.
  • Perks you up and keeps you going reliably. 
  • A consistent, rich dark roasted coffee bean with a great, lingering aroma.
  • Very economical and accessible at various retailers both on-site and online.

Things We Don’t Like

  • Limited availability – available in 12-ounce bags of ground coffee, but not as whole bean, instant, or K-Cup coffees. 

Starbucks’ Pike Place Roast

Starbucks’ Pike Place Roast is a coffee classic that has gained a lot of deserved traction since its 2008 creation. We recommend this blend to anyone who wants to enjoy an above-average coffee using whatever method or coffee machine they prefer.

Due to its manufacturing process, your experience may vary from one cup to the next, but it still makes a great, well-rounded option for your morning drink. 

Things We Like

  • Made with 100% Latin American arabica beans.
  • Made with chocolate and toasted nuts while maintaining a strong flavor.
  • Created to be well-rounded in taste and feel.
  • Available as ground coffee, whole bean, instant, K-Cup, and many more varieties. 

Things We Don’t Like

  • It’s a little more expensive than most coffee options.
  • You might find that your experiences with the roast are a bit inconsistent.

Seattle’s Best House Blend

Despite Henry’s Blend being this brand’s signature blend, its House Blend is difficult to beat—backed up by a plethora of satisfied user reviews.

The full-bodied coffee flavor acts as a blank canvas for you to add or subtract whatever coffee additives you’d like for a delicious, personalized drink. This cup is sure to taste just as good tomorrow as it does today.

Things We Like

  • Made with 100% Latin American arabica beans.
  • Designed to be full-flavored and smooth, balanced between dark and medium roast. Because of its balance, you can customize your coffee however you’d like without compromising the flavor.
  • Has consistently good taste.

Things We Don’t Like 

  • Limited availability – available in both ground coffee and K-cup format, but not instant or whole bean varieties. 

Starbucks’ House Blend 

Starbucks’ House Blend is a reliable favorite for many, which is why it’s worth recommending. In traditional Starbucks fashion, it’s available in most of the forms you enjoy for a semi-sweet, strong coffee taste.

If you’re a long-time fan of this blend, you might find that it’s a bit different from what it used to be, but it will still deliver a great drinking experience. 

Things We Like

  • The retail coffee company has served this famous blend since its original founding in 1971. 
  • Made with 100% Latin American arabica beans.
  • Has sweet flavors of cocoa and toffee for a strong taste.
  • Available as ground coffee, whole bean coffee, and K-Cups. Also available as House Blend Decaf.

Things We Don’t Like

  • It may be a little more expensive than standard coffee products.
  • This blend is often not sold at Starbucks retail locations, so it may be harder to acquire.

Wrap Up

Both of these historic, Seattle-based coffee brands have left their mark on patrons since the ’70s, but they are valuable for different reasons.

I’d say the selling points of Starbucks are its accessibility and variety. Chances are, if you are on the lookout for a decent or above-average K-Cup for your Keurig or want an instant coffee variety that doesn’t taste bland, Starbucks would be the perfect pick for you.

If a vast selection is your priority, then Starbucks is hard to beat. Between its seasonal coffees and its already extensive repertoire, there’s bound to be a flavor or roast for everyone—light or dark.

Just remember that quantity is not necessarily better than quality for every patron.

Seattle’s Best, on the other hand, has only a few specialties compared to Starbucks; but each of these specialties is expertly crafted and done very well.

If you’re a traditional coffee drinker who isn’t worried about doing things the old-fashioned way, you might not find any coffee quality higher than Seattle’s Best. The aromatic scents and full-bodied tastes will energize you all day.

The quality of Seattle’s Best compared to its price is also quite remarkable. You won’t have to drain your wallet just to get a taste of these consistently high-quality brews.

However, you may find the selection quite limiting, especially if you’re looking for lighter roast mild coffee. 

Both brands are sure to give you a delightful morning or a productive afternoon. We hope this guide will help you discover which of these fine brands is right for you. 

Happy Caffeinating! 

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