Earlier this week I forgot my phone in my apartment, a tragedy you’ll be happy to hear I lived through, and spent an entire day analyzing silly things around me that Twitter usually allows me to ignore. While standing in the long pre-class Starbucks line I took a good look at the menu. While looking around I realized how well everything is set up. A big poster with a new Frappuccino stared at me, exclamation points told me to try the Coconut milk macchiato and I realized something- I get coffee here every day (fine, three times a day) and I have no idea how many drinks they offer, let alone what this company’s background is. So later that night, in a strong bout of procrastination, I hit Google hard and learned as much as I could about the makers of my daily latté.
Starbucks was opened on March 31, 1971 by two teachers and a writer in Seattle who had been friends since college. They decided to open a high-end coffee bean store together and didn’t even sell espresso until they had opened six more stores in 1986. A few years later the three founders sold the chain to one of their managers, who made it spread like mono in a freshman dorm in college. With the headquarters never leaving Seattle, the stores started cropping up across America and eventually began branching around the world. Today there are Starbucks locations in 72 countries including Egypt, Vietnam, China, Trinidad, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Finland. Worldwide, the revenue of 2016 was about $10.7 billion and it’s expected to be significantly higher this year.
Like me and many of my friends, the average Starbucks customer goes at least 6 times a month and 20 percent to 16 times or more. Not super surprising considering the brilliant marketing that led to the Unicorn Frappuccino, which racked up more than 100,000 Instagram photos in the week it was offered in American and Canadian stores, incase you were curious. It is the store that popularized the Pumpkin Spice Latté, which has an official Twitter page with 109,000 followers and 13,700 tweets. Nice to know you’re not as interesting as a caffeinated drink, right?
On a more serious side, Starbucks has had a few politically charged moments in over the years. For example, in January 2012 the company supported the legalization of same-sex marriage, despite their typical avoidance of controversial political conversations. As expected, this resulted in some unhappy people. The typical boycotts and picket signs came but the chief executor (the manager I mentioned previously) of Starbucks didn’t back down. Instead he came forward to say that “the lens in which we are making that decision is through the lens of our people. We employ over 200,000 people in this company, and we want to embrace diversity of all kinds. If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares in Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much.” As if I needed a reason to love this company any more.
Forgetting my phone was annoying but it allowed me to explore my curiosity and learn a lot about the coffee-heaven I crave the second I wake up. Who knows, maybe three University of Scranton students heading to Cockeyed’s tonight will go on to start a company as prosperous and expansive as Starbucks.