We put a smile on Seattle’s Best Coffee

We are thrilled to unveil our latest work for Seattle’s Best Coffee. It’s been an incredible journey for the DDW design team and we’re extremely proud to share the results.

Seattle's Best Coffee packaging

The Seattle’s Best Coffee story begins back to the 60’s when founder Jim Stewart owned a small roaster and a popular coffee shop on the Seattle waterfront called the Wet Whisker.  He and his Columbian-born wife Luz Marina Trujillo began importing beans directly from coffee plantations all over Latin America.  In a little less than a decade, Stewart had built a company that was to became Seattle’s Best Coffee, a name earned after his brew was voted the best tasting cup of coffee in Seattle, even beating out cross-town rival Starbucks.

Flash forward to 2003. Howard Schultz and the team at Starbucks steps in and buys the Seattle’s Best Coffee brand.  If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.  Right?   Over the next decade, Starbucks is successful growing the Seattle’s Best Coffee business to become the second largest roaster and wholesaler in the U.S.

An incredible accomplishment, except for one thing.

Seattle's Best Coffee

After several well-intentioned package design changes, the Seattle’s Best Coffee brand was starting to lose some of the charm and unique personality that had made it so special.   Smiles were turning to frowns at Starbucks.

Which is when DDW got the call.  Our challenge from Starbucks: Refresh the Seattle’s Best Coffee package with a design that will restore the brand’s unique personality and strengthen its impact at retail.

Packaging Design

“Our inspiration came from the unique character and heritage of the brand and the great city it hails from,” said Ross Patrick, DDW Executive Creative Director.  “We had a very rich pallet to work from.”

The DDW design team dug deep into the brand’s DNA to learn everything that had made the brand special and so beloved over the years.

Then we explored a wide range of design solutions before landing on what the team affectionately dubbed “Seattle Smile” – a design featuring a smile-shaped graphic, playful Seattle-themed icons, and imaginative typography.


The design elements work in harmony to heroically stage a refined Seattle’s Best brand mark, while telegraphing the brand’s light-hearted, approachable personality. “We did this to celebrate the brand’s heritage and to give the brand much stronger pop at retail,” says Patrick.

“Then we re-crafted the back and side panels to tell the brand’s thoroughly charming story.  Every inch of the new package is thoughtfully detailed, bringing our brand story forward in a fresh, unexpected way.  And in the research, consumers tell us they love it.”

The new Seattle’s Best Coffee package design is rolling into retail stores now.  Grab a bag, brew up a pot and let us know what you think.  Or stop by DDW and have a cup on us!

About DDW 
DDW is a San Francisco-based brand design firm with 20+ years experience helping clients create deep brand stories and fresh brand design. Clients include Amazon, Anheuser-Busch, Alcatel, Big Heart Pet Brands, Campbell’s, Energizer. Meyer Corporation, Sprint, Seattle’s Best Coffee, The Non-GMO Project and several other undisclosed assignments.

Photo Credit: Jon Ragel