Friday, November 4

Seattle Coffee Co.

Richmond Park. Photo from Kamila.

We see Mary for dinner : she is now Senior Vice President, Global Strategy, at Starbucks reporting to CEO Howard Shultz. She made the transition from Boston Consulting and the East Coast, relocating her family to Seattle. Her intelligence demands a Big Platform and she has it : 17,009 stores in 55 countries, including over 11,000 in the United States, and over 130,000 employees.

When we first arrived to London, 1997, many of us newbies looked around and asked: what can be done better? Or, at least, what can we copy from the United States ?  Scott Svenson , who arrived two-years before Sonnet and me, founded the Seattle Coffee Company which was bought, shortly later, by Starbucks for a cool £55 million , setting the expat scene a twitter, believe you me.

Scott arrived in London with his wife, an i banker, and had to find a job so, being from Seattle, he asked Starbucks if he could open their first non-US franchise. Starbucks declined so he set up Seattle Coffee instead, borrowing heavily from Starbucks, and quickly reaching 19 stores in  London. The logos looked suspiciously similar. When Starbucks ready for Europe , Scott played hard-to-get and got all-he-wanted. By strange coincidence , the Head of Starbucks Intl a friend and, long after the deal, we clucked about how over-priced the purchase was.

And The Seattle Coffee Company today? Well, she still exists on a few chipped coffee mugs and perhaps in a memory or two like mine.

"China traditionally has been a tea-drinking country but we turned them into coffee drinkers. "
--Howard Schulz