Filed under: Dining
Starbucks is the winner of the Luxist Awards Readers' Choice Awards for Best Coffeehouse.
Unless you've been living under a pile of Sumatra beans for the past few decades, you've probably visited one of Starbucks' 16,000-plus locations. If so, you're one of the millions of customers who pass through the company's doors every day.
It's taken Starbucks nearly half a century to achieve its current success. The company's origins date back to 1971, when its first store was established in Seattle's Pike Place Market to sell fresh-roasted whole bean coffees from around the world. Named after Captain Ahab's first mate in Melville's Moby Dick, the Starbucks moniker was dreamed up to conjure images of the first seafaring coffee traders.
In 1981, current chairman Howard Schultz tasted his first cup of Starbucks coffee and was hooked. He joined the company a year later, and soon he was traveling the world researching coffee. He grew so fascinated with Italy's coffee houses that he left Starbucks to start a chain called Il Giornale; in 1987, he returned to purchase Starbucks for $3.8 million. As CEO, Schultz guided the company to its peak before leaving in 2000, only to return to his position in 2008 amid concerns of over expansion.
Starbucks is perhaps best known for steering America's tastes beyond a simple cup of Joe. With offerings including espresso, cappuccino, latte, and a variety of specialty items including the trademarked Frappuccino, the company's lingo has worked its way into the American vernacular. Beverage sizes (tall, vente and grande, instead of small, medium and large) have given Starbucks aficionados a language of their own.
In an effort to broaden its scope, the company now offers a variety of products, including sandwiches, bottled water and even CDs, in addition to coffee and breakfast. As Starbucks enters its fifth decade, the company's growth prospects are cloudy – hundreds of under-performing stores around the world have been shuttered – but there's little doubt millions fans will keep streaming through Starbucks to satisfy their caffeine cravings.