Seattle's Best Coffee began in Coupeville, Washington as an ice cream parlor/coffeehouse called the "Wet Whisker" and founded by Jim Stewart in 1968. It was known as "Stewart Brothers Coffee" from 1969 to 1991, when it took on its present name. Seattles Best Coffee was joined with Torrefazione Italia Coffee to form Seattle Coffee Holdings (SCH). SCH built a roasterie for both brands in 1995 on Vashon Island, and began consolidating the workforce in order to maximize profits. The vast majority of SCH coffee beans have come from Peru and Argentina, where the workers can be paid very little to pick the beans. In recent years, this has caused an uproar with American consumers and Border's Book Stores has threatened to stop partnering with the company if the unfair treatment persists.
In 1998 AFC Enterprises purchased Seattle Coffee Holdings and changed its name to Seattles Best Coffee (SCC). During AFC Enterprise's ownership SCC's Vashon Island roasterie was upgraded and the company's organic coffee line was established. Brought on by failures from the Arthur Anderson Accounting firm AFC Enterprises was forced to sell SCC to Starbucks in July 2003, retaining franchise rights in eleven countries, Hawaii and U.S. military bases. In November 2004, AFC sold those franchise rights (along with Cinnabon) to a newly-established affiliate of Roark Capital Group, FOCUS Brands, Inc.
The Borders bookstore chain signed a contract with Seattle's Best Coffee in 2004 to convert Borders' in-store cafes to Seattle's Best cafes. As of 2006, approximately two-thirds of Borders' domestic superstores have completed the Seattle's Best conversion. Seattle's Best Coffee parent company Starbucks Corporation has contracted with Borders' competitor Barnes & Noble to operate cafes in B&N superstores under the Starbucks brand. Starbucks also owns and operates locations within Chapters and Indigo Books and Music Bookstores in Canada.
Seattles best coffee has recently been learned that the five stores in British Columbia have been acquired by Blenz Coffee, a competitor to Starbucks in that province.