Once upon a time in 1971, in the bustling Pike Place Market of Seattle, a humble store named Starbucks opened its doors. Little did the founders know that this small establishment would become the catalyst for a global phenomenon.
In 1982, Howard Schultz entered the scene as the director of retail operations and marketing. Starbucks had already started providing coffee to fine restaurants and espresso bars. Schultz, however, had bigger dreams. His journey took him to Italy in 1983, where the vibrant espresso culture of Milan captivated his imagination. The potential for a similar coffeehouse culture in Seattle became clear to him.
Schultz convinced the founders to experiment with the coffeehouse concept, and in 1984, the first Starbucks® Caffè Latte was served in downtown Seattle. The success of this venture laid the foundation for Schultz to establish his own company in 1985 – Il Giornale, offering brewed coffee and espresso made from Starbucks® coffee beans.
Il Giornale, with local investor backing, acquired Starbucks assets in 1987, and Starbucks Corporation was born. The first store outside the United States opened in Vancouver, Canada, marking the beginning of an international expansion. By 1988, Starbucks had 33 stores and started offering full health benefits to eligible employees.
As the years unfolded, Starbucks continued its growth. By 1990, Starbucks had expanded its headquarters in Seattle and unveiled a mission statement to establish itself as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee globally. The company went public in 1992, with 165 stores.
The 1990s saw Starbucks evolve into a global brand. It opened its first drive-thru location in 1994 and introduced Frappuccino® blended beverages in 1995. The company expanded into new territories, including Japan, Singapore, and the Philippines.
In 1998, Starbucks entered grocery channels in the U.S., opened stores in underserved neighborhoods through a partnership with Magic Johnson, and launched Starbucks.com. The company’s global footprint continued to grow, reaching Malaysia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United Kingdom.
Partnerships with Conservation International in 1999 aimed at promoting sustainable coffee-growing practices, and by 2000, Starbucks had stores in Australia, Bahrain, Hong Kong, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
In the early 2000s, Starbucks introduced ethical coffee-sourcing guidelines, the Starbucks Card, and Wi-Fi in stores. The acquisition of Seattle Coffee Company in 2003 further expanded Starbucks’ portfolio. Starbucks continued its journey, opening stores in various countries, including Chile, Cyprus, Peru, and Turkey.
In 2008, Howard Schultz returned as CEO, initiating a transformation of the company. The launch of Starbucks VIA® Instant and the expansion of digital offerings for customers marked this era. Starbucks also committed to hiring veterans and military spouses and established the CUP Fund emergency financial assistance fund for partners.
The years that followed were filled with innovation and social responsibility. Starbucks introduced Starbucks® Blonde Roast, acquired Teavana, and opened its first Starbucks Reserve® Roastery in Seattle in 2014. The company committed to hiring veterans, military spouses, and opportunity youth, while also pledging to make coffee the world’s first sustainably sourced agricultural product.
Starbucks continued to expand globally, opening stores in diverse communities and establishing Farmer Support Centers worldwide. The company focused on environmental goals, such as phasing out disposable plastic straws and operating ‘Greener Stores.’
As the years progressed, Starbucks remained dedicated to its mission of inspiring and nurturing the human spirit. By 2020, the company aimed to become resource positive and give more to the planet than it took.
And so, the Starbucks timeline became a rich and vibrant story of growth, innovation, and a commitment to making a positive impact on the world. From a single store in Pike Place Market to thousands of stores worldwide, Starbucks had woven itself into the fabric of global culture, one cup at a time.