Top Pot Vs. Top Pot: Their Own Worst Enemy?

When Seattle’s beloved Top Pot Doughnuts began selling wholesale to Seattle-area Starbucks retail locations a few years ago, it raised some concerns about the continued quality of the product. Now, the program has expanded: their doughnuts can be seen in Starbucks throughout the country! However, if you buy a Top Pot at Starbucks in Omaha or San Jose, are you really getting the same experience as if you were to buy it at the Top Pot Doughnut stores in Seattle? Or are they giving their own doughnuts a bad name?

Committed to finding out the truth, Cakespy recently staged a tasting between Top Pot doughnuts, both the same flavor (old-fashioned glazed)—one from the Belltown location, and one from a local Starbucks. Our Tasting Panel consisted of several Madison Park Greetings employees, as serious a collection of Cake Gumshoes as we’ve ever seen. The tasting was “blind” in that the tasters did not know which doughnut was from Top Pot and which came via Starbucks before rating them. Our overall object was to find out if Top Pot Doughnuts sold in Starbucks stores are of comparable quality to those sold in Top Pot Doughnut locations. So how did they stack up? Here’s our review:

Cost: Including tax, the Starbucks version was $1.75; the Top Pot version was $1.63. Not a huge difference, but a difference nonetheless.

Texture: The Starbucks version was lighter, and slightly less dense. It appeared the the Top Pot version had been fried longer; it was darker and more well-done.

Taste: Overall, the taste was similar, although the taste of the frying oil was more evident in the Top Pot version. However, as to whether this was a good thing or not was of some debate; some found the added frying made it taste more crisp/fresh and added a nice contrast and taste complexity, while others found the lighter texture of the Starbucks version to be more appetizing.

Freshness: Our panel was split on this one, but the overall consensus seemed to be that while neither was stale necessarily, neither seemed like it was just out of the fryer; one taster suspected that the Starbucks version had been refrigerated.

Which did you prefer: 75% of our panelists preferred...the Starbucks version!

To sum it up: While we can’t ignore the fact that certain aspects do throw off the scale (the fact that the Top Pot version was fried longer, in this case, which might not be the same case on a different day; the fact that transit time to different parts of the country may affect freshness), the overall review was quite positive for Top Pot doughnuts via Starbucks. Although they were not exactly the same, there weren’t any red-flag differences between the quality of the two versions, and both were overall quite good quality, classic doughnuts. Will you like the doughnuts? Well, that's for you to see; however, we can confidently say that readers over the US who are curious about trying Top Pot via Starbucks will have a fairly authentic Top Pot taste experience.

For more information on Top Pot Doughnuts or to find locations, visit

Cakespy Note: In all of the photos above, the Starbucks version appears on the left, and the Top Pot version on the right.
Top Pot Doughnuts (Belltown) in Seattle