From a small coffee bean shop in Seattle to a staggering 80 million dollar business over almost the past five decades, Starbucks has greatly thrived with its ‘tall’ cups adorned with often misspelled customers’ names. Currently, around two-thirds of the coffee sold at cafes in the U.S are from this iconic coffeehouse chain. However, like all successful ventures, the growth and expansion of Starbucks haven’t occurred without some trials and tribulations on the way.
The genesis of Starbucks
Starbucks is the brainchild of three college friends – Zev Siegel, Jerry Baldwin, and Gordon Bowker who decided to get into the coffee business under the mentorship of Peet’s Coffee and Tea founder Alfred Peet. At a time when the culture of having coffee outside the home didn’t exist at all, the three friends opened the first Starbucks store at Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market in 1971.
Considering the time that they lived in when people are more accustomed to making instant coffee at home, initially, Starbuck’s focus was on selling premium quality coffee beans to consumers. However, the appearance of Howard Schultz changed the tides for what is today one of the top coffeehouse chains in the entire world.
How Starbucks was inspired by Italy – the land of fashion, food, and art
In 1983, Howard traveled to Italy and was amazed by the small and cozy coffee bars and their experiences. A visionary leader that he is, he brought a piece of Italy – the tradition of the coffeehouse to the US. Under his leadership, the coffee bean stores were converted into cafes, and guess what – The experiment turned out to be a success! With a unique approach, Starbucks immensely expanded its presence, and by 1992 when the company went public, it already had 165 stores and by 1999, it had opened its 2000 locations.
With his vision of making the brand not just a store but an experience, it was Schultz who caused the sales of the company to skyrocket. His goal was to make the cafes an experience and not just a place to get on-the-go coffee.
A theme is drawn from nautical mythology
If you have ever wondered if the green mermaid of the Starbucks’ sign had always been there, the answer is no. When the first store was opened in 1971, its sign bore a brown mermaid which is more detailed. The founders drew the theme of the company’s sign from mythology and picked out the name from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick wherein Starbucks was one of the major characters.
Catering to laymen beyond the realms of home and work, a name inspired by nautical mythology and the idea by Italian coffee bars, for years, Starbucks has served as a corner of romance and connection, an escape from the mundaneness of life that doesn’t necessarily require getting into a car. It is a company that not only celebrated the rich tradition of Italian cafes but also brought people closer through communication while witnessing the baristas preparing the iconic cups of coffee.
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