Starbucks is arguably one of the biggest coffee places in the world with over 32 thousand stores, but not a lot of people know the background of Starbucks. The first Starbucks opened in Seattle, Washington, on March 31st, 1971. Jerry Baldwin, Zev Sieglm, and Gordon Bowker were three peers from the University of San Francisco, who had a common interest in coffee and tea. The name Starbucks came from the first mate in Moby Dick, Starbuck. When it came to what inspired them to start selling coffee, they were inspired by Alfred Peet, who had shown them his way of roasting beans, and decided they wanted to sell high-quality coffee beans and equipment. Their store was opened in Pike Place Market and they offered fresh-roasted beans, teas, and spices from around the world. By the early 1980s, Starbucks opened up four more stores in Seattle and eventually caught the eye of Howard Schultz. Schultz joined as the director of retail operations and marketing in 1982 and after a trip to Italy in 1983, wanted to take Starbucks in a new direction. Instead of just selling products to people and having them go about their days, Schultz wanted to make Starbucks a coffee shop.
Schultz was inspired by the coffee shops he saw in Milan. He took notice that these shops were a place for people to relax and be somewhere that wasn’t just home and work. The original founders were strongly against the idea and wanted to stick to just selling coffee beans and equipment. They did test Schultz’s idea of making Starbucks a coffee shop, in one of the locations in downtown Seattle, and it was a success. This is where the first Starbucks Caffè Latte was served and with the success of this experiment, Schultz created his own coffee shop. In 1985 Schultz founded Il Giornale, offering brewed coffee and espresso drinks, and giving the Starbucks experience he envisioned. Il Giornale was very successful and Schultz was eventually to acquire Starbucks, combining Il Giornale and Starbucks, and renaming everything Starbucks Corporation. From this, Starbucks was able to take off across the country with stores opening in places like Chicago, Illinois, and even internationally to Vancouver, Canada.
Starbucks continued to grow in popularity and success for decades following this rebrand. In 1996, they opened their first store in Japan, in 1998, they opened locations around Europe, and in 1999, they opened locations around China. Starbucks dominated the coffee market, by continuously finding new ways to reinvent the way people traditionally thought about coffee, and finding new ways to keep people interested in the brand. They started to sell a bottled version of their Frappuccinos, they started the Starbucks Foundation, which was all about benefiting local literacy programs, they were the first privately owned company in the United States to offer a stock option program for part-time employees, etc. This constantly wanted to make sure the brand was innovating and improving.
Starbucks is still a favorite of many people. It’s the place to get a good cup of coffee, just to hangout, and even work. Starbucks has been able to maintain their place at the top of chain coffee shops and because of that I’d imagine it’ll be a place that’s around for a long time.