Monday, April 24, 2006


[I think this bit about their relationship to Peet's is interesting....]

Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX, SEHK: 4337) is a large multinational chain of coffee shops with corporate headquarters in Seattle, Washington. Its coffee shops in the U.S. are especially popular among students and young urban professionals. The company was in part named after Starbuck, a character in Moby Dick, and its insignia is a stylized cartoon siren....

The first Starbucks was opened in Seattle in 1971 by three partners—English teacher Jerry Baldwin, history teacher Zev Siegel, and writer Gordon Bowker. The three were inspired by Alfred Peet, who they knew personally, to open their first store in Pike Place Market to sell high-quality coffee beans and equipment. (This location is still open today, though it is not in the same exact location it was when it opened.) During their first year of operation, they purchased green coffee beans from Peet's, then began buying directly from growers.

Entrepreneur Howard Schultz joined the company in 1982, and, after a trip to Milan, suggested that the company sell coffee, espresso, and cappuccino drinks as well as beans. The owners rejected this idea, believing that getting into the beverage business would distract the company from its focus. To them, coffee was something to be prepared in the home. Certain there was much money to be made selling drinks to on-the-go Americans, Schultz started the Il Giornale coffee bar chain in 1985.

In 1984, the original owners, led by Baldwin, took the opportunity to purchase Peet's. (Baldwin still works there today.) In 1987 they sold the Starbucks chain to Schultz, who rebranded his Il Giornale outlets and quickly began to expand. Starbucks opened its first locations outside Seattle in Vancouver, British Columbia (at Waterfront Station) and Chicago, Illinois that same year. The first Starbucks location outside of North America opened in Tokyo in 1996, and Starbucks now has outlets in 30 additional countries. Starbucks entered the U.K. market in 1998 with the acquisition of the then 60-outlet Seattle Coffee Company, re-branding all its stores as Starbucks.

By the time of its initial public offering on the stock market in 1992, Starbucks had grown to 165 outlets. In April 2003, Starbucks added nearly that many new outlets in a single day by completing the purchase of Seattle's Best Coffee and Torrefazione Italia from AFC Enterprises, bringing the total number of Starbucks-operated locations worldwide to more than 6,400. Counting stores not owned by the company, there are currently more than 10,800 Starbucks locations worldwide, although none, as yet, in Italy, Schultz's original inspiration.

Starbucks' success in the U.S. market has often, though not always, been replicated around the world; it has faced competition in markets which are already saturated with coffee products, though Starbucks consistently distinguishes itself with its quality of service and of product. A number of retailers have emulated Starbucks' business model, many owned by former Starbucks employees who founded their own businesses upon their knowledge of Starbucks' operations.

Name and logo

According to Howard Schultz's book Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time, the name of the company was derived from Moby Dick, although not in as direct a fashion as many assume. One of the company's founders, a Moby Dick fan, had suggested the name "Pequod" after the ship in the novel. Thinking it sounded a little too much like a slang term for urine, the other founders voted it down. Another suggestion was "Starbo," the name of a mining camp on Mount Rainier. The Moby Dick idea and "Starbo" came together and the company ended up named for the Pequod's first mate, Starbuck.

The company logo is a siren (sometimes referred to as a mermaid, but it is more likely a melusine since it has two tails). The logo has changed over the years to avoid offense. In the first version, the Starbucks siren had bare breasts and a fully visible, double fish tail. In the second, streamlined version, her breasts were covered by hair, but her navel was still visible, and the fish tail was cropped slightly. In the current version, her navel and breasts are not visible at all, and only vestiges remain of the fish tails. The original logo can still be seen on the Starbucks store in Seattle's Pike Place Market.


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