Stored value cards are quickly taking hold in the gourmet coffee market. Seattle’s Best Coffee announced this week the national introduction of the “Seattle’s Best Card” and kicked off the program by handing out 10,000 cards in the greater Seattle area. During the fourth quarter, Starbucks introduced a stored value card and issued 2.3 million cards by year’s end. The “Seattle’s Best Card” is being offered at company-owned Seattle’s Best Coffee cafes in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle, and the Internet. The card will roll out in franchised cafes nationwide later this quarter. To kick off the card’s introduction, customers will receive a free specialty coffee beverage when they load at least $10 onto the card while at a cafe this month. Card customers also receive a free 12-oz. bag of whole bean coffee each time they load $40 onto the card. The card be loaded with values between $3 and $500. Seattle Coffee Company, a subsidiary of AFC Enterprises, franchises and operates 155 Seattle’s Best Coffee and 21 Torrefazione Italia Coffee cafes in eight countries. AFC Enterprises is the franchisor and operator of more than 3,857 restaurants, bakeries, and cafes in the USA and 33 other countries under the brand names Church’s Chicken, Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits, Cinnabon, Seattle’s Best Coffee, and Torrefazione Italia Coffee. Starbucks recently reported that its customers loaded a total value of $32 million onto the new Starbucks Card and redeemed $9 million in 2.2 million transactions between Thanksgiving and the end of 2001. Starbucks has 4,000 U.S. locations.