10 Things you didn’t know about Starbucks

Test your coffee knowledge with Starbucks fun facts. In honor of the coffee company’s 50th anniversary, here are ten things you might not know about Starbucks – from the true story behind the Starbucks siren logo, unique store locations, to winning a Grammy and more.

The Story of the Starbucks Siren Logo

Co-founders Gordon Bowker, Jerry Baldwin, and Zev Siegl opened the first Starbucks in Seattle's Pike Place Market on March 30, 1971. The name was inspired by author Herman Melville’s famous novel, Moby-Dick (Starbuck was the name of the first mate on the ship, the Pequod). After settling on a name, next up was to create a logo.

While scouring old marine books a mysterious, nautical figure called to them, a twin-tailed siren. Starbucks has two connections to the seafaring world, Seattle is a port city, and coffee often travels long distances across the water to get to us. Over time, Starbucks has given the Siren a few makeovers, but she remains as alluring as ever. You can learn more about the story of the Siren here.

And the Grammy Goes to…Starbucks!

In 2004, Starbucks and Concord Records teamed up to co-produce, market and distribute a groundbreaking album with Ray Charles, “Genius Loves Company.” At a time when duet albums were not commonplace, Charles was paired with legendary guest artists including Norah Jones, Diana Krall, James Taylor, Elton John, Willie Nelson and Bonnie Raitt. The landmark album went on to receive eight Grammy® Awards, including Album of the Year and Record of the Year, and was certified multi-platinum with worldwide sales of more than 5 million copies.

Starbucks own Coffee Farm

Yes, Starbucks owns a coffee farm and you can take a (virtual) tour! Purchased in 2013, Hacienda Alsacia is a 240-hectare coffee farm located in Costa Rica that serves as a working farm as well as Starbucks global Research and Development facility. Costa Rican coffee has been a part of Starbucks core offerings since it opened its doors in 1971. In 2018, Starbucks sold a limited-edition offering of Hacienda Alsacia single-origin packaged coffee to customers around the world.

This year, Starbucks launched an all-new virtual experience that invites partners and customers to explore Hacienda Alsacia. To access the virtual experience, visit coffeeexperiences.starbucks.com.

The Secret Meaning Behind Partners’ Aprons

In more than 80 markets around the world, the green apron is a symbol of Starbucks. It signals a warm welcome and expert coffee craft from the more than 400,000 baristas who proudly wear one each day. But did you know there are many types of Starbucks aprons?

Here are a few of the aprons your barista may be donning in stores:

  • American Flag Embroidered Apron: This embroidery celebrates veterans and military spouses.
  • Mortarboard Embroidered Apron: Graduates of Starbucks College Achievement Plan receive this embroidered apron.
  • Green Aprons with ASL Fingerspelling: For partners who identify as a Deaf individual and ASL is their primary form of communication, this apron serves as both a source of pride for partners and a helpful cue to customers about communication and connection.
  • Black Apron: Special designation for partners who have been certified for their coffee knowledge, known in some markets as Coffee Masters.
  • Red Apron: To help spread some holiday cheer, partners wear their red aprons when the holiday season arrives.
  • Starbucks Reserve and Roastery Aprons: These tan canvas aprons with leather straps are for our Reserve and Roastery partners, created to withstand years of labor and care needed for the art of roasting.

You can learn more about Starbucks aprons here.

Did you know Canada's first Starbucks location opened in Vancouver?

The first Starbucks to open in Canada was at the Seabus Skytrain Station in Vancouver on March 1, 1987. This humble store was home to Starbucks Coffee’s first cafe outside of the U.S. and set the stage for the company's international growth.  The store still remains open today.

Canadians also have a coffee just for them. In 2013, Starbucks Canada named a coffee for Canadians, by Canadians. True North Blend®/Melange Nordique® was born after 22,000 entries were submitted in a nationwide contest to name this unique blonde roast that is available today at Starbucks locations across the country.

Starbucks first latte was introduced 13 years after opening in 1971

When Starbucks first opened its doors in 1971, its now much beloved brewed coffee was not on the menu – although it was only given as samples. The store sold bulk whole bean coffee, tea, and spices as well as a selection of coffee makers, grinders, and teapots.

That changed in 1983 when Howard Schultz walked the streets of Milan for the first time and immersed himself in the culture of the Italian café. “The Italians had created the theater, romance, art and magic of experiencing espresso,” Schultz recalled. “I was overwhelmed with a gut instinct that this is what we should be doing.” The following year, Schultz convinced the founders to test the coffeehouse concept in downtown Seattle, where the first Starbucks® Caffè Latte was served.

A Lucky Mistake

When Starbucks launched its carbonated coffee beverage called Mazagran in 1994, customers were polarized. Some loved it. Some hated it. Not many bought it more than once. But Mazagran is still an important part of Starbucks history, because it launched the North American Coffee Partnership with the Pepsi-Cola Company, and the coffee extract found a new home in 1996 with the game-changing bottled Frappuccino.

Starbucks Most Unique Stores

With over 33,000 stores across the globe, each Starbucks store offers something unique to the community that it serves – from locally inspired art and merchandise, to store designs and experiences that set it apart. Starbucks has opened several one-of-a-kind locations over the past 50 years, including:

The World’s Largest Starbucks

Did you know that Starbucks largest store is the Starbucks Reserve Roastery Chicago? Here all the coffee served in the store is freshly roasted on-site (the coffee roaster is the first thing visitors see when they enter the Chicago Roastery). The Chicago Roastery boasts five floors and 35,000 square foot store celebrates the company’s heritage in coffee roasting and the craft of coffee.

Since 1971, Starbucks has been obsessed with the fine art of roasting and proud to showcase this expertise in six Roasteries around the world. Starbucks Master Roasters tailor a unique roast for each coffee lot to unlock maximum flavor and nuance. The Chicago location also boasts an on-site Italian bakery, cocktail bar, curved elevator and a 56-foot steel cask (the company’s tallest), a sculptural blend of form and function, where coffee beans go to rest and de-gas after being roasted. Learn more about the Starbucks Reserve Roastery Chicago here.

Before there were Sharpie pens

In the days before writing drink customizations on cups in Sharpie pens, the position of a cup on the bar would tell the barista how to make the beverage. It could be with the logo facing forward for whole milk, and away for nonfat. Maybe upside down for decaf. It varied from store to store. But no matter where you were, a strong breeze could blow them all over.By the mid-90s, using a Sharpie made the beverage customizations experience easier for Starbucks baristas and customers, and eventually lead to baristas personalizing the experience even further with the addition of customers’ names on cups.

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Starbucks new lavender drinks offer a taste of spring for everyone