Starbucks Coffee Company was founded in 1971 by three businessmen in Seattle, Washington who had a love for coffee and tea. It was important to them that the city of Seattle to have access their coffee.
The Starbucks Coffee Company grew slowly but by 1981 had 4 retail stores and a roasting plant that sold whole bean coffee in Seattle only.
By 1983 the marketing manager had a vision of re-creating the magic and romance behind the Italian coffee bar and wanted to test out the concept of selling espresso by the cup. When Starbucks Coffee opened its 6th store in downtown Seattle, the idea had become a hit. Within 2 months the new store was serving over 700 customers a day and it was selling 3 times more than the whole bean locations.
In 1987, the owners of Starbucks Coffee Company decided to sell their coffee business along with the name to a group of local investors for $3.7 million.
The new investors were told that they would open 125 Starbucks coffee stores in the next five years. Starting from a base of 17 stores in 1987, the company expanded rapidly to Vancouver, Portland and Chicago.
By 1991 Starbucks had expanded into the mail-order catalogue business, licensed airport stores and expanded further into the state of California.
In 1992 the company went public and after the initial public offering, Starbucks continued to grow at a phenomenal pace that no one had ever seen in the coffee world before. By 1997 the number of Starbucks Coffee stores grew tenfold, with locations in the US, Japan and Singapore.
Starbucks initiated several successful product and brand extensions including offering coffee on United Airlines flights. They also began selling premium teas through its Tazo Tea Company and offering people the option to purchase starbucks coffee online to enjoy at home.
They began distributing whole bean and ground coffee to supermarkets through an agreement with Kraft Foods. They also produced premium coffee ice cream with Dreyers. Starbucks even sold CDs in its retail stores.
Starbucks began turning its name into a household word not through advertising but through word of mouth. In fiscal 2004, Starbucks opened a record 1,344 stores worldwide. The once small regional roaster, Starbucks Coffee Company, now has more than 9,000 locations in 34 countries serving over 20 million customers a week.