Seattle’s Best: 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Starbucks

Starbucks is the definitive American success story. A few years ago, some people were not satisfied by the coffee they were getting, so they decided to brew and sell their own. Over the years, by offering excellent coffee in a relaxed environment, Starbucks grew and grew until it now seems like they are no more than a few feet apart from one another. But while most people actually know quite a bit about Starbucks, there are plenty of facts about the company that are a lot less well known.

Peets Coffee and Tea

1. Starbucks’ founders Sold ownership to invest into Peet’s coffee

In 1966, Dutch coffee expert Alfred Peet opened Peet’s Coffee & Tea in Berkley, California. Three pals of his — English teacher Jerry Baldwin, history teacher Zev Siegl and writer Gordon Bowker — were so impressed with his coffee that in 1971 they opened their own shop in Seattle, which eventually became the first Starbucks. Locally successful, Starbucks attracted Brooklyn-born investor Howard Schultz, who bought into the firm in 1982. Two years later, Baldwin, Siegl and Bowker sold their shares of Starbucks to Schultz and invested in Peet’s. Although Peet’s is doing well, its annual revenues of $284.8 million are less than one-fiftieth of Starbucks’ $14.89 billion.

Starbucks Pequods Coffee

2. Starbucks was originally called something else – pequods coffee

Everyone knows that Starbucks is named after the first mate on the ship in Herman Melville’s classic novel Moby-Dick, but few know that it was not Starbucks’ original name. When Baldwin, Siegl and Bowker were drawing up plans for their new shop, the name they had settled on was Pequod’s. The Pequod, of course, was the name of the ship Starbuck sailed on with Captain Ahab.

Starbucks Everywhere

3. two new starbucks have opened every day for the last 25 years (on average)

If it seems like there’s a Starbucks on every street corner, that’s because there are a huge number of them. In 1986, there were six of them, all in Seattle. Expansion began in 1987 with locations in Vancouver and Chicago. By 1989, there were 46 Starbucks and now, at least as I write this, there are 23,187. That means that over the last 25 years, almost two Starbucks have opened every day. And, although there are no corners in the U.S. with four Starbucks, there are actually a few with three.

Starbucks Santa Fe Springs

4. Nobody likes Starbucks as much as the people of Santa Fe Springs – there’s 560 locations in the area

Santa Fe Springs is an otherwise nondescript suburb of Los Angeles. But the small city has an incredible 560 Starbucks locations in a 25-mile radius. That means there is a Starbucks for every 29 of the city’s residents. Of course, it takes more than 29 people to keep a Starbucks going, and the Santa Fe Springs locations rely predominantly on commuters making their way from Orange County to Los Angeles.

Starbucks Drinks

5. There are over 87,000 different drinks you can order at starbucks

With so many sizes, so many types of coffee (and other drinks) and so many variations of the theme, there are more than 87,000 different drinks you can order at Starbucks. And different cities have different favorites. New Yorkers prefer the original, Pike Place, while Charlotte likes a skinny latte, Chicago and Philadelphia go with the blonde roast, and Omaha loves the mocha. Things get odd on the west coast as San Diego favors green tea frappuccino, San Fran likes soy lattes and Portland, always different, like eggnog lattes. And Seattle, the home of Starbucks? Double espresso, of course. The most expensive drink ever ordered at Starbucks was a $54.75 sexagintuple vanilla bean mocha frappuccino.

Starbucks Caffeine

6. your average starbucks grande has the caffeine equivalent of four cans of red bull

A typical grande has 330 mg of caffeine, or the equivalent of four cans of Red Bull. Of course, caffeine levels can vary a lot depending on all kinds of different factors, but Starbucks is generally at the top when it comes to average caffeine levels. The highest caffeine levels, by drink, are in brewed coffee products like Pike Place, and the lowest are in white hot chocolate and certain teas, mostly with words like “relax” in their names. What about decaf? Well, depending on the size, you’re actually getting from 15 to 30 mg of caffeine — about the same as a can of Coke.

Starbucks Cinnamon Chip Scone

7. Starbucks’ cinnamon chip scone has more calories than a Quarter Pounder

Starbucks food might seem healthier than regular fast food, but you might want to reconsider that before having too much. Lots of the sandwiches have more than 400 calories and more than 20 grams of fat. There are some great options, though. The chicken & hummus bistro box has just 270 calories and 7 grams of fat to go along with 20 grams of protein.

Empty Starbucks Cups

8. starbucks “trenta” size drink is larger than the average human stomach

When he was mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg campaigned against giant sodas, pointing out that 500 milliliters (about 16 ounces) was more than enough for anybody. It’s a good thing he didn’t extend his wrath to coffee, because in 2011, Starbucks introduced the trenta, its biggest size. Trenta means thirty in Italian, and the cup holds 916 milliliters, about 30 ounces. Not only is that almost twice the size of the soda Bloomberg was trying to ban, but bigger than the average human stomach, that comes in at 900 milliliters.

Howard Schultz

9. Starbucks spends more on healthcare than it does on coffee beans

Starbucks makes a heck of a lot of coffee — 4 billion cups per year — and that means a lot of money. But CEO Schultz says that the company spends more on health insurance that it does on coffee. When Starbucks hit hard times (at least by their standards) in 2008, investors demanded cost cutting. Schultz did what he had to, but refused to cut the employees’ health care, which amounted to $300 million a year. In fact, Starbucks bucks several of the more draconian habits other big corporations have these days and has succeeded like few others in history.

Starbucks Barista

10. Sure, they have healthcare, but baristas are still forced to smile

Starbucks baristas are given a company manual in which they are instructed not only to smile at customers, but to “discover and connect” and even “bond” with them. Their instruction manual, The Green Apron, has very specific instructions on how to treat customers. So when that pretty barista seems interested in your life story, keep in mind that she has to be.

Starbucks Round Tables

11. Round tables are meant to make people feel less lonely

Lots of people drink coffee alone. And to make them feel less conspicuous, Starbucks uses circular tables. The reasoning is that when a single person sits at a square or rectangular table, it looks very much as though there are unfilled seats — but circular tables don’t have that. Sometimes, busier Starbucks will also have long rectangular tables where lots of people sit together, whether they are with each other or not. And nobody looks lonely.

People stand outside a Starbucks Coffee shop that has been closed as police respond to a shooting at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington

12. Forget your 10-second rule, Starbucks has a 10-minute rule

And it has nothing to do with dropped food. The 10-minute rule at Starbucks means that the stores open 10 minutes before the posted opening time and close 10 minutes after the official closing time. That means any Starbucks that’s supposed to be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. is actually open from 7:50 to 10:10. Since most Starbucks already have a lineup at opening, it allows the individual store’s staff to look like they’re doing the early birds a favor by opening early.

Starbucks Chantico

13. Starbucks actually had a flop

Back in 2005, Starbucks introduced a thick, sweet drinkable chocolate called the Chantico. Named after the Aztec goddess of fire, volcanoes and precious possessions, the drink was similar to popular European beverages. But it never took off in North America. And less than a year after its much-hyped introduction, the chantico was taken off the menu. The official reason from Starbucks? Customers did not like the fact that the chantico could not be customized.

Starbucks Secret Menu

14. Like most fast-food places, Starbucks has a secret menu

Of course, the trenta and its opposite number, the short, are not on the menu, and must be asked for. But there are also custom recipes for drinks that include: caramel apple frappuccino, orange creamsicle frappuccino, Nutella frappuccino, spiced apple chai, mint chocolate chip frappuccino, peach ring tea, caramel snickerdoodle macchiato, chocolate chip cookie dough frappuccino, Ferrero Rocher frappuccino, caramel popcorn frappuccino and others, depending on the imagination of your location.

Starbucks Juice

15. Starbucks is more than just a coffee shop

Starbucks is also into tea, it owns Tazo and Teavana; water, Ethos; juices and soups, Evolution Fresh; baked goods, La Boulange Bakery; and music, Hear Music. It’s not hard to see the organic way that all fits together. You’re at a Starbucks, and you might want tea, juice or water instead of coffee, and maybe a snack to go along with it. While you’re there, you hear a tune you like and you ask the barista what it is and get handed a card for a free download of the song. It all makes sense, and it all fits together. Not only do these acquisitions allow Starbucks to supply its own outlets, it also sells its own coffee to other restaurants under the name Seattle’s Best Coffee.