The Surprising History of Starbucks

It would be an understatement to say that Starbucks is a name that is familiar to everyone. In addition to being one of the most well-known coffee brands in the world, Starbucks is also one of the most well-known companies in general. It is difficult for younger people to fathom a world without Starbucks, and some elderly people may not remember what life was like before there was a Starbucks on every major street corner. However, older individuals sometimes find it easier to envisage a future without Starbucks.

This essay will walk you through the history of Starbucks, a company that dominates the coffee industry. Where did the idea for Starbucks originate from? Who exactly is the owner of Starbucks? Is it a chain, or does it not seem to be one? In this extensive history of Starbucks, we will address all of these questions as well as a number of others.

When Was Starbucks Founded?

Starbucks was established in 1971 in the city of Seattle, Washington, by Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl, and Gordon Bowker. While attending the University of San Francisco, the three future founders became acquainted. The history of Starbucks is intricately intertwined with the history of another coffee firm. Baldwin, Siegl, and Bowker all learned how to roast coffee from Alfred Peet, the founder of the world-famous Peet’s Coffee & Tea company.

After participating in a round of creative thinking in which they tried to think of as many phrases as they could that began with the letters “st,” the three founders of Starbucks ultimately decided on the name Starbucks. Gordon Bowker headed an advertising firm and thought that “st” names were more prevalent in successful brands and businesses. As a result, he intended to place more of an emphasis on such names. One of the names beginning with “st” was Starbuck, which was also the name of a character in Herman Melville’s classic Moby-Dick. What happened after that is, as the saying goes, history.

Rise of an Empire

The first Starbucks location was at the Pike Place Market in Seattle, and by 1986, the company had expanded to a total of six locations in the greater Seattle region. In 1987, the original proprietors of Starbucks sold the brand to Howard Schultz, who was an entrepreneur in the coffee sector. Schultz rapidly expanded the firm by piggybacking on top of his already established businesses.

The first Starbucks stores to open outside of Seattle were in the Canadian city of Vancouver and the American city of Chicago, both of which took place in the same year. In 1989, just two years after Starbucks first opened its doors, the coffee chain had expanded to 46 stores throughout the western United States and Canada. This was merely the beginning of Starbucks’ rapid growth; three years later, in 1992, the business went public with 140 outlets and an astounding $73.5 million in sales. This marked the beginning of Starbucks’ meteoric rise.

Global Presence

The version of Starbucks that exists in the modern day is a worldwide phenomenon that has permeated every region of the earth. However, prior to July of 1996, when the first Starbucks store outside of North America opened in Tokyo, Japan, there were no Starbucks outlets anywhere else in the world. Almost immediately after that, in December of 1997, Starbucks opened its second location outside of North America in the Philippines.

After establishing a foothold in the worldwide coffee industry, Starbucks continued its expansion efforts and quickly opened outlets in a number of other countries, including the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Australia. At this time, in the early 2000s, Starbucks started purchasing other coffee firms in order to extend their market presence as well as their capacity for manufacturing. By the time April rolled around in 2003, Starbucks had already purchased Peet’s Coffee, Torrefazione Italia, and Seattle’s Best Coffee.

As of the year 2004, there were around 7,000 shops located in more than a dozen different nations throughout the globe.

A Short Interruption

In spite of its spectacular ascent, the Cinderella narrative of Starbucks was put on pause in 2008 as a result of the sputtering and crashing of economies throughout the globe. In July, Starbucks made the shocking announcement that they would be shutting 600 of its shops worldwide. This is a startling amount when one considers that 10 years ago, 600 outlets would have represented about half of all of their locations.

It turned out that the recession was nothing more than a speed bump for Starbucks, despite the fact that it eventually caused the company to lose a sizeable number of its outlets and the employment of a considerable number of its workers. As the economic downturn came to an end and economies started to improve, Starbucks was able to get back on its feet and prosper.

Starbucks Today

It’s easy to gloss over the astonishing reality that Starbucks is not a franchise because of its widespread presence. In contrast to McDonald’s, another worldwide powerhouse, Starbucks is a chain in which every location is owned by the parent business. It is not possible for a single person to own and operate a Starbucks in the same way that a franchisee of McDonald’s can. Instead, Starbucks operates under the terms of a licence agreement.

When September 2020 rolls around, Starbucks will have 32,660 outlets in 83 countries. It is easy to see that Starbucks’ expansion throughout time has followed an exponential pattern, which is indicative of the company’s dramatic influence on the coffee market. It is not reasonable to anticipate that the growth rate would continue at this pace, given that Starbucks plans to expand to 55,000 outlets throughout the globe over the next ten years. Starbucks’ yearly sales has already topped one billion dollars, and the company anticipates that it will generate $2.3 billion in revenue in the year 2020.


Starbucks is continuously pushing the limits of what it means to be a major coffee brand by innovating, adapting, and finding new ways to do things. Starbucks has branched out beyond its roots as a coffee shop to become a one-stop shop for customers who are on the move and want to purchase coffee as well as food regardless of where they are.

The coffee business is always being confronted with new difficulties. The future of coffee has never been more unclear than it is right now because of the effects that climate change is having on growth conditions and unsustainable production practises. However, there is one point that cannot be disputed. In the future decades, Starbucks will surely be present everywhere the coffee business goes, serving as the de facto face of coffee and leading the way as the industry leader.

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