Tully's Coffee Patrick DempseyCapitalism, at its most basic, is a system that enables the public to vote with its money. By offering or withholding funds, the public decides which companies succeed and which companies fail.

So as cynical and jaded as the public can be about the ubiquitous presence of Starbucks and its cultural influence over how we—we meaning the entire human race—perceive and consume coffee, it is important to remember that the public elevated the brand to global prominence.

As Starbucks continues its caffeinated march across multiple nations and generations, we see a growing opportunity for brands that cater to people who–gasp!–love coffee but don’t love Starbucks. Some folks, for example, think Starbucks coffee tastes bitter or burnt (and this isn’t just the Dunkin’ Donuts crowd).

Enter actor Patrick Dempsey–yes, that would be Dr. McDreamy from Grey’s Anatomy. The man who isn’t a doctor but plays one on TV just purchased Tully’s Coffee, a chain based in Starbuck’s own hometown of Seattle, Washington which filed for bankruptcy in October. At auction, Mr. Dempsey and his group Global Baristas outbid six other competitors (including Starbucks and Baristas Coffee Co.), paying $9.15 million for the company. Read more