How did Starbucks Begin?

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  • Written By: Venus D.
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Starbucks is a chain of coffee shops found all over the world. Begun in 1978 as a coffee bean retailer, it was acquired by Howard Schultz in 1987, and now its insignia, a two-tailed siren, is internationally recognized. The name Starbucks was inspired by a character in Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick, named Starbuck.

The first Starbucks was opened by two teachers and a writer in 1971 at Pike Place Market, located in Seattle, Washington. Their goal was to sell high-quality coffee beans. Entrepreneur Howard Schultz suggested the idea of selling coffee drinks in the style of European cafes. Facing opposition, Schultz created his own chain, called II Giornale Coffee Bar. He later went on to buy out Starbucks and expand into British Columbia; Vancouver, Canada; and Chicago, Illinois.

The first international Starbucks location was in Tokyo, opening in 1996. After acquiring Seattle's Coffee Company, Starbucks opened in several locations within the United Kingdom. In 1996, the company stocks were offered for public trading, and in 2003, there were 6,400 stores open worldwide. Another marker of Starbucks' success occurred on 14 September 2006, when Deidrich's Coffee, the company's longtime rival, agreed to be bought out.


One reason for Starbucks' success is the wide variety of drinks and food it offers. Not only are espresso drinks available, but non-espresso drinks, sandwiches, pastries, and salads are offered as well. Also, Starbucks is a cultural phenomenon in the sense that it is a place where an individual can be comfortably alone while a group of friends congregate nearby. With its assortment of comfy chairs and tables and friendly staff, it serves as a comfortable place between work and home.

Starbucks also has political implications, since its serves as a symbol of globalization for many. Many websites are maintained for the purpose of criticizing Starbucks as a monopoly. During the 1996 World Trade Organization (WTO) talks, several Starbucks shops located in Seattle were vandalized with the anarchist symbol A. In response to such criticism, Starbucks has become the largest buyer of Certified Fair Trade coffee beans in the world and is a Certified Fair Trade retailer of coffee in over 23 countries. The Certified Fair Trade coffee label assures the consumer that coffee bean farmers were not exploited, since certification requires meeting rigorous international criteria.

As its cultural and political significance grows, Starbucks continues to evolve. Hear Music, a retail music company, was purchased in 1999 in order to provide exclusively music for Starbucks patrons. The company released several CDs through this subsidiary; in 2008, day-to-day management was turned over to Concord Music Group as part of a company restructuring. Starbucks has also become involved with film production. The 2006 movie Akeelah and the Bee was produced in part by the company and promoted heavily in all its stores.

Starbucks, a name that originally signified high-quality coffee beans, is now immersed within global cultural. One can sip a latte in the Washington, DC with the knowledge that others are doing the same in Qatar, Japan, Korea, India, France, and so on.


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Discuss this Article

Post 13

@lighth0se33 – I felt the same way about coffee, but when I tried a white chocolate mocha at Starbucks, I was hooked. At the time, I had been consuming a lot of sugar on a regular basis, so the sweetness didn't bother me, and I thought it was the best thing in the world!

Now, I'm eating and drinking more healthy foods and consuming much less sugar. I recently visited a Starbucks for a white chocolate mocha, and I nearly gagged from all the sugar! It's funny how our taste buds can become accustomed to something over time and react differently than before.

Starbucks may offer healthier options than some of their super sweet drinks and pastries, but I'm willing to bet that all of them contain more salt or sugar than we should be eating. That's why I think that a visit to Starbucks should be a special treat and not part of a daily routine.

Post 12

I wonder how much Starbucks charged for coffee drinks when they first opened. I don't think they could have met with such success if they had started out charging four dollars or more for a drink.

Post 11

I had my first latte experience at a Starbucks. I was never a big coffee drinker, but all the different flavors appealed to me, and I thought that surely coffee mixed with sugar, milk, and other flavors would taste better than black coffee.

I ordered a cinnamon latte, and I was very pleased with it. It was sweet, creamy, and spicy, and it didn't taste much like coffee at all.

I was also pleased by the fact that they offered various pastries. I love having cinnamon rolls in the morning, and one of these paired perfectly with the cinnamon latte.

Post 10

What amazes me is that Starbucks seems to thrive even in times of recession, when other businesses are closing left and right. I've heard that this is because they offer high quality products and good customer service.

The customer service is probably so good because the workers are paid well and treated well. The company invests in its workers, and they reap the benefits.

Post 9

@Ted41 - Yes, every Starbucks is pretty much the same. I may be in the minority here, but I don't really like Starbucks. I feel like we should support local businesses over homogenized chains that sell over-priced coffee beverages that aren't even all that good!

Post 8

I think the story of Howard Schultz is actually really inspirational. He had an idea, and the place he was working didn't take him seriously. So he went and started his own business, and then eventually bought the original business! Now Starbucks is a huge chain with international success.

And their products are actually good, unlike a lot of hugely successful fast food chains. I have to admit, I stop for a latte a Starbucks almost every time I'm out and about running errands. No matter what Starbucks I go to, it's always good.

Post 7

@KaBoom - I also love the fact that they give benefits to part time employees. Starbucks is also a supporter of marriage equality, which I think is awesome so I go there whenever I need coffee. On the other hand, I know some people who are against marriage equality that refuse to patronize Starbucks!

Post 6

I know some people see Starbucks as a corporate monopoly, but I actually really like the company. As the article said, they're a Certified Fair Trade retailer for coffee beans, which I think is awesome. They're such a big chain I'm sure this has a huge impact on the coffee industry.

One other thing I love about Starbucks is that they provide health insurance to any employee that works at least 30 hours a week. That's not even full time! There aren't too many companies that will give benefits to part time workers, so I actually patronize Starbucks over other coffee shops just to support this behavior.

Post 5

what symbolizes the logo of starbucks with the woman in it?

Post 3

Why did Starbucks expand globally? What were the reasons for this?

Post 1

This rticle is good but needs small correction. As stated in the last line, Starbucks is not there in India. It is still working on setting up its first shop there.

Moderator's reply: You're right, it looks like Starbucks is in the process of establishing locations in India. Thank you!

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