In an era when consumers’ tastes are becoming increasingly fickle, Starbucks has been a constant. It’s the largest coffeehouse company in the world, with more than 24,000 locations in 70 countries, nearly half of those in the United States. But even if no day is complete without a grande iced white chocolate mocha, we bet that there’s a lot you didn’t know about this mega-chain.
The first location, in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, was opened by a history teacher named Zev Siegl (left), an English teacher named Jerry Baldwin (center), and an advertising executive named Gordon Bowker (right). Baldwin managed financials and coffee production, Siegl operated and developed stores, and Bowker (never an official employee but widely credited for hatching the idea) handled marketing. Baldwin was trained how to roast coffee by Peet’s Coffee founder Alfred Peet (he worked at the original Berkeley Peet’s location), and the trio actually purchased the company from him in 1984.
While researching logos after founding the company, the founders were poring over marine history books and discovered a sixteenth-century Norse woodcut of a twin-tailed mermaid, also known as a Siren. The image was essentially used as-is for the first logo, but eventually her hair moved to a more “strategic” location.
While legend has it that the team was directly inspired by Moby Dick to name the company after the book’s first mate (who drinks a lot of coffee in a film adaptation), reality was a little more bizarre. According to an interview Gordon Bowker did with the Seattle Times, while trying to think of a name his ad agency partner Terry Heckler casually mentioned that words starting with “st” were considered to be powerful. While brainstorming words that match the criteria, someone pulled out an old map and came upon a mining town in the Cascades called Starbo. This made Bowker think of the word Starbuck, and the name was born. Fun fact: After leaving Starbucks, Bowker went on to found Redhook Ale Brewery.
Ever hear of the Chantico? This rich and sweet hot chocolate was introduced in 2005 and served in 6-ounce cups, and was meant to resemble European “drinking chocolate.” But it never caught on (reasons include its unhealthiness and the fact that it couldn’t be customized), and it was quietly discontinued the following year.
Starbucks provides healthcare to all employees who work at least 20 hours per week, and even though it’s costing the company hundreds of millions of dollars every year and the board has pressured CEO Howard Schultz to cut costs, this is an issue he refuses to compromise on.
Google/ Joe Latessa
In 2009, a couple new Starbucks locations opened up in Seattle: 15th Avenue Coffee and Roy Street Coffee. Little did customers know that these were in fact owned by Starbucks, and were devised as places where the company could test new ideas. Roy Street Coffee is still going strong. There are also plenty of Starbucks locations with inauspicious or nonexistent signage across the country, like this one on the NYU campus.
There’s a cup that’s even smaller than a 12-ounce tall. It’s called the “short,” and it’s usually used for kids’ hot chocolate. It only holds 8 ounces, so if you want a small coffee that’s actually small, just ask for a short.
Had you gotten into the Starbucks IPO in 1992, you could have purchased a share for $17. Taking into account stock splits, if you had purchased $1,000 of stock during the IPO, it would be worth about $230,000 today.
If you’re still lining up for your daily fix, you may want to start using your phone to place your order, too.
Considering that pour-over coffee is widely considered to be superior than the traditionally brewed drip coffee that Starbucks serves, you might want to ask for it the next time you visit. It takes a bit longer to make, though, so you might want to wait until after rush hour.
Many of the chain’s food offerings contain well over 400 calories; the chicken artichoke on ancient grain flatbread contains 510 calories, the turkey pesto panini contains 520, chocolate marble loaf cake contains 490, and the sausage, Cheddar, and egg breakfast sandwich contains 500 calories. In comparison, a double cheeseburger from McDonald’s contains 430 calories.
According to caffeineinformer, the most expensive drink ever created at a Starbucks was a White Mocha Frappuccino that was supplemented with 112 shots of espresso, protein powder, five bananas, and chocolate chips. It clocked in at $102.40 (blowing the previous record-holder out of the water), and because it was the customer’s birthday, he got it for free!
At the top of the inside of every apron is sewn a black length of fabric which reads: “We create inspired moments in each customer’s day. ANTICIPATE CONNECT PERSONALIZE OWN.” It’s positioned to be seen every time a barista dons the apron.