Starbucks Coffee History


To summarize something as phenomenonally successful as Starbucks coffee history might be a challenge. Many volumes have been written on the subject, it is examined and taught in business schools, and whole semesters are dedicated to the marketing genius of the company. The amazing success of Starbuck's business model certainly deserves commendation if not adoration in the business world.

The story of Starbucks coffee history begins in Seattle in 1971, when three friends with a passion for fresh coffee, Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl and Gordon Bowker, opened a small shop and began selling fresh-roasted, gourmet coffee beans and brewing and roasting accessories.

In 1980 Zev Siegl sold out to pursue other ventures. By that time Starbucks was the largest roaster in Washington with six retail outlets. In 1981 the small coffee company caught the attention of Howard Schultz, a plastics salesman that noted the large quantity of plastic drip-brewing thermoses that they were buying from Hammarplast, the Swedish manufacturer that Shchultz represented here in the U. S.

In 1982 Starbucks coffee history was changed forever when Baldwin hired the energetic Schultz as the new head of marketing and shortly thereafter sent him to an international housewares show in Milan, Italy in 1983. Schultz found himself infatuated with the vibrant coffee culture of Italy. While in nearby Verona, Schultz had his first caffe' latte' and, as he observed the cafe patrons chatting and laughing joyously while sipping their coffees in the elegant surroundings, inspiration struck.

In what he describes as an epiphany, the idea hit him, "why not create community gathering places like the great coffee house of Italy in the United States?" he wondered. This idea would place Starbucks coffee history into the annuls of business journals for decades to come.

However, his idea was not well received by Baldwin as he wasn't too keen on getting into the restaurant business and distracting him from his original plan of selling whole beans. But he did let him test a small espresso bar in the corner of one of the stores. It was an immediate success and Schultz branched out on his own and opened Il Giornale, a coffee house named after Italy's largest newspaper, 'The Daily'.

Shultz exceeded his goal of one hundred and twenty-five stores in five years, in 1992 there were 165 cafes in operation. Today there are over 8,000 stores in 30 countries and annual revenues in excess of $7.5 billion.

© Copyright Randy Wilson, All Rights Reserved.


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