• By
  • Eric Morath
  • CONNECT
Bloomberg News

Java lovers who enjoy sipping Seattle’s Best coffee at their local Borders stores may soon have to choose between the books and the brew.

Borders Group Inc. is set to seek bankruptcy-court permission to terminate its licensing agreement with the Starbucks Corp. brand, a move that would remove the Seattle’s Best name from cafés at Borders’s 417 remaining locations nationwide.

Ending the seven-year partnership with Seattle’s Best is a cost-cutting move for Borders, allowing it to reduce the licensing fees it pays and boost café profits.

The exact amount of the savings is not known because Borders did not file the contract in public court records and is asking to withhold details of the deal from public view.

Borders, however, says its customers won’t get burned.

“The change will also provide us with the opportunity to tailor menu items and the café experience based on our customers’ preferences,” Borders spokesman Mary Davis said.

Seattle’s Best brand spokeswoman Jenny McCabe said Starbucks and Borders have had talks about entering into a new contract with revised terms, but so far those have not been fruitful.

“We look forward to continuing to serve the many fans we’ve made at Borders through the 50,000 other places where our coffee can now be found,” she said.

Borders’s brand-name coffee divorce comes after Seattle’s Best got steamed about how the book retailer handled the closure of some 200 locations in the early stages of Borders’s bankruptcy case.

In court papers, Seattle’s Best fretted that its trademarks and trade secrets could be at risk if its coffee cups and logos were left to wallow in soon-to-be-dark Borders stores.