Starbucks is a chain of coffee shops found all over the world. Begun in 1978 as a coffee bean retailer, it was acquired by Howard Schultz in 1987, and now its insignia, a two-tailed siren, is internationally recognized. The name Starbucks was inspired by a character in Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick, named Starbuck.
The first Starbucks was opened by two teachers and a writer in 1971 at Pike Place Market, located in Seattle, Washington. Their goal was to sell high-quality coffee beans. Entrepreneur Howard Schultz suggested the idea of selling coffee drinks in the style of European cafes. Facing opposition, Schultz created his own chain, called II Giornale Coffee Bar. He later went on to buy out Starbucks and expand into British Columbia; Vancouver, Canada; and Chicago, Illinois.
The first international Starbucks location was in Tokyo, opening in 1996. After acquiring Seattle's Coffee Company, Starbucks opened in several locations within the United Kingdom. In 1996, the company stocks were offered for public trading, and in 2003, there were 6,400 stores open worldwide. Another marker of Starbucks' success occurred on 14 September 2006, when Deidrich's Coffee, the company's longtime rival, agreed to be bought out.
One reason for Starbucks' success is the wide variety of drinks and food it offers. Not only are espresso drinks available, but non-espresso drinks, sandwiches, pastries, and salads are offered as well. Also, Starbucks is a cultural phenomenon in the sense that it is a place where an individual can be comfortably alone while a group of friends congregate nearby. With its assortment of comfy chairs and tables and friendly staff, it serves as a comfortable place between work and home.
Starbucks also has political implications, since its serves as a symbol of globalization for many. Many websites are maintained for the purpose of criticizing Starbucks as a monopoly. During the 1996 World Trade Organization (WTO) talks, several Starbucks shops located in Seattle were vandalized with the anarchist symbol A. In response to such criticism, Starbucks has become the largest buyer of Certified Fair Trade coffee beans in the world and is a Certified Fair Trade retailer of coffee in over 23 countries. The Certified Fair Trade coffee label assures the consumer that coffee bean farmers were not exploited, since certification requires meeting rigorous international criteria.
As its cultural and political significance grows, Starbucks continues to evolve. Hear Music, a retail music company, was purchased in 1999 in order to provide exclusively music for Starbucks patrons. The company released several CDs through this subsidiary; in 2008, day-to-day management was turned over to Concord Music Group as part of a company restructuring. Starbucks has also become involved with film production. The 2006 movie Akeelah and the Bee was produced in part by the company and promoted heavily in all its stores.
Starbucks, a name that originally signified high-quality coffee beans, is now immersed within global cultural. One can sip a latte in the Washington, DC with the knowledge that others are doing the same in Qatar, Japan, Korea, India, France, and so on.