How Starbucks Started

Starbucks is a brand name like no other. With 23,768 stores worldwide and over 4 billion cups of coffee sold yearly it has effected more people than almost any other business. Starbucks is one of the most impactful companies on the planet, but do you know how it started?

How the company began:
The origins of Starbucks can be traced back to two students and a professor at the University of San Francisco: Jerry Brown, Zev Siegel, Gordon Bowker. The three decided to join arms and get into the coffee business after being inspired by Alfred H. Peet. Alfred H. Peet founded Peet’s Coffee and Tea. The three men were interested in the new way to ground coffee which was introduced by Peet. After some time, they decided to start a business selling roasted coffee.

The first challenge that faced the founders of Starbucks was what to name the company. They wanted something with the “st” sound to begin with. Multiple names were considered the most notably being “Cargo House” and “Pequod”. Eventually the name “Starbuck” was liked by everyone. The name also liked due to its match with the character in Moby Dick. Eventually an “s” was added and the name was coined.

The very first Starbucks was opened on 2000 Western Avenue in Seattle. The first few stores only sold roasted coffee beans. Peet’s plays a large role in the beginning of Starbucks. Starbucks at first got most of its products from Peet’s including the coffee beans. As Starbucks started to grow as a company it didn’t need a middle man and began attaining products straight from the seller. In 1984, the founders of Starbucks actually purchased Peet’s.

As time passed, Starbucks began to change into more of a coffee shop than a bean manufacturer. In 1986 with 6 stores open Starbuck’s began to sell espresso coffee to customers.

One of the biggest changes in the company’s history is when Howard Schultz became CEO in 1987, his path to CEO even more interesting. Howard Shultz originally worked at Starbucks as a director of retail operations and head of marketing for Starbucks. Both of these skills will help him greatly when he becomes CEO. For Shultz Starbucks was love at first sight, enthralled by the feel of Starbucks. Howard Shultz’s acquired the job of CEO not by climbing the corporate ladder but rather by a trip he took to Milan, Italy. While in Milan he witnessed a different types coffee shops. In Mila coffee shops were prosperous and rather than a place that gave you ground coffee beans it was a hangout. Shultz was inspired by the attractiveness and coziness that was these coffee shops. Upon returning to America he was now inspired and had a new vision for Starbucks. Shultz met with the owners of the company pitched his idea of an inviting relaxing coffee shop with more than just the espresso. Although giving it an initial trial run the owners shot down the idea saying that it was too close to a sit down restaurant, an image in which they didn’t want.

After getting frustrated Shultz left the company to go and pursue his own coffee company. After some time, raising money Shultz finally raised enough to make his own coffee shop. Shultz named his company II Giornale. After some time with II Giornale in 1987, Shultz purchased Starbucks for $3.8 million dollars. Shultz rebranded all of his II Giornale products with the Starbucks brand. Using the retail and marketing expertise that Shultz had he was able to expand the company greatly. Within two years the company grew to have 46 stores across the United States. Since then the Starbucks brand has only grown.

How the logo came to be
The Starbucks logo has undergone major change three times. The original image was of a full two tailed mermaid. The lady lady that was in the logo was Siren, from Greek Mythology. Sirens, were mythological women who were extremely attractive and deceptive, with singing and dancing they would lure sailor’s ships to dangerous shores, oftentimes leading to shipwreck. In the first logo she was actually completely nude. After six years with the logo, in 1987, the logo underwent major change. The logos predominant colors were changed from brown to green, and the image was zoomed in. The Siren was given long flowy hair; she was now no longer visibly nude. This logo stuck for 18 years until in 2011 it was changed. The logo was made even simpler. The outer ring with the Starbucks name was removed, leaving just the siren as the logo. This logo still stands today. This logo is now one of the most identifiable brands in the world, not even needing to have the company name in the logo.

How Starbucks has survived so well
Starbucks is a company who has stood the test of time. Starbucks entered the scene in 1971 it has surpassed competitors, a changing economy, and big changes in technology. Starbucks has continued to stay relevant, it does all this while staying true to its core values. Starbucks has been able to do this for a number of reasons. The first reason being that it has entered the technology age so well. Starbucks has an easy to use app, that allows you to purchase coffee and send gift cards. Starbucks has also had many very strong marketing campaigns, including its 2013 campaign @tweetacofee, where they made $180,000. Another way that Starbucks has remained on the top is that it buys a lot of smaller companies. Whether the companies are coffee shops, or coffee products, Starbucks insures that it has the best of the best.

Facts about the brand:
1: Between 1987 and 2007 there was an average of two stores opening daily
2: The highest concentration of Starbucks’ is in Santa Fe Springs, California where there are 560 stores within 25 miles.
3: There are over 87,000 drink combinations.
4: The largest size at Starbucks is the Trenta, it holds 916 milliliters.
5: Starbucks’ uses over 93 million gallons of milk per year.
6: Living near a Starbucks can increase your house’s value.

Feature Image Credit: Faye | Flickr

About Calvin Raab (21 Articles)
Hello, My name is Calvin Raab. I am the CEO and Founder of Raab Journal. I am 17 years old and I love learning more about the the world of business. Any questions or concerns please contact me at Thank you and enjoy!

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