Melissa Allison follows the world's biggest coffee-shop chain and other Seattle caffeine purveyors.
Weekend Wrap: Starbucks on the prowl, Cherry Street Coffee buys Seattle Bagel Bakery, Seattle Coffee Society plans debut meeting
Posted by Melissa Allison
Now that Starbucks has said it wants to grow through acquisitions, everyone is guessing who it might snap up. Starbucks says only that its expansion will be international and in sales to grocery stores, which makes speculation about the chain buying Peet's Coffee somewhat confusing.
- Dean Foods, per an interview I did with Smead Value Fund manager William Smead. It's cheap right now, and it sells milk, which Starbucks buys by the truckload.
- Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, whose single-serve Keurig brewers have far outshone Kraft's single-serve Tassimo brewers, to which Starbucks was tied before it decided to fire Kraft as its coffee bean distributor. Morningstar analyst RJ Hottovy wrote, "Although a potential merger is by no means a certainty, management admitted that it's been intrigued by the growth potential of this category and has seen improvement in the quality of Green Mountain's coffee assortment."
- A host of small food companies and distributors we've never heard of.
- Who am I missing?
In other coffee news:
- In the realm of real rather than speculative acquisitions, Cherry Street Coffee House bought Seattle Bagel Bakery, where it had been a customer for nearly 18 years. "When we caught wind that this 24-year-old bagel bakery had fallen on tough times and were leaning towards closing their doors, we had to do something about it. For the past 6 months I've been rebuilding the bakery from the ground up and as of the Oct. 1st, I own it," e-mailed Cherry Street's AJ Ghambari. Check out the video celebrating bagels by Mitch Mattraw at Cabfare Productions.
- A new group called the Seattle Coffee Society will hold its first meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 9, at Seattle Coffee Works on Pike Street across from Pike Place Market. "This is a club for coffee professionals and the most passionate amateurs," according to organizer Daniel Humphries. "We will brew coffee, look at some video from origin, and have a discussion on how different coffee origins distinguish themselves in the specialty coffee market."
- Ezra Fieser's article in last Sunday's Seattle Times looked at how and why Starbucks ships green coffee beans from Central America to the U.S. for roasting, then back again. The company told Fieser, "The challenge we face is that many coffee-producing countries don't allow the importation of green coffee to protect their local industry. Given that we blend coffee from 25 countries, it would be difficult to offer our wide range of products with such restrictions." However, neither Guatemala nor El Salvador -- the countries he was writing about -- restricts green coffee imports, customs representatives in those countries said.
- A judge in Illinois threw out a lawsuit that alleged Starbucks was to blame for a customer's tea burns, The Consumerist reported.
- Starbucks completed a pilot test in which it and International Paper converted used Starbucks cups into new coffee cups. That's one more hurdle cleared in the obstacle course toward a goal of having all the communities where it owns stores to be able to recycle coffee cups by 2015. The biggest challenge is convincing the recycling industry that its cups are worth recycling. (Photo of one day's recycling at Cascade Recycling in Woodinville by Seattle Times photographer Erika Schultz.)
- Finally, I'm back from vacation and assignment, and I miss the coffee and fresh basil lemonade -- like fresh from the cafe's back porch -- at Revolutionary Grounds Books & Coffee on North Fourth Avenue in Tucson. Its beans are roasted by Gadsen Coffee in far-flung Arivaca, which gets its coffee from organic, shade-grown farms in Chiapas, Mexico. "Old Bisbee Roasters are also amazing," said Joy Soler (pictured below), who opened the leftist cafe and bookstore two years ago with her husband, Paul Gattone. Their ethos appears at Marxism study groups and on the menu with drinks like "Hot Sasha," a thick hot chocolate with cayenne pepper.
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