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History of Starbucks

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The history of Starbucks starts back in 1971 when the first store opened in Seattle, Washington. Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl and Gordon Bowker got the idea from Alfred Peet (of Peet's Coffee fame). The store initially sold just coffee beans and coffee making equipment rather than the drinks they have become so famous. After about 10 years, Howard Schultz was hired as Director of Retail Operations and came to the conclusion that they should be selling drinks rather than just beans and machines. He couldn't convince the owners, so he went his own way to start the Il Giornale chain of coffee bars in 1986.

The next year, Baldwin and the others sold Starbucks to Schultz who then renamed his Il Giornale locations to Starbucks and quickly started to expand. After conquering Seattle, the chain spreads across the United States and then internationally. The first location outside of North America was in Tokyo and they still have a sizable presence in Japan today. Over the course of its history, Starbucks has bought or acquired companies like Peet's and Seattle's Best Coffee, and took over many locations of Coffee People and Diedrich Coffee stores. In the 1990s, Starbucks was offering stock options to employees and went public. Today, Starbucks has expanded to more than 17,000 stores in 55 countries around the world. Their biggest presence is still in the United States, with 11,000 locations. You can find a Starbucks in such diverse nations as Chile, Romania, Bahrain and Bulgaria. The most recent expansion was to Budapest in June of 2010.

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The companies logo was initially a wood-cut style image of a 2-tailed mermaid or siren, but it has undergone a lot of changes over time. The historical original design had the mermaid with bare breasts, but the modern version has become more stylized and her hair covers her body. The name comes from Captain Ahab's first mate in the classic novel Moby Dick, who was named Starbuck. Aside from the ubiquitous coffee shops, they also own the Hear Music label and Ethos bottled water. Though they are unquestionably a successful company, Starbuck's history does have its share of controversy. Their habit of taking over other smaller businesses and forcing out competitors have given Starbucks the reputation of being too corporate and too powerful for the laid-back world of coffeehouses. The chain has also had lawsuits involving their tip policies for their employees. But they also promote Fairly Traded coffee products and have also made strides in recycling with their paper cups and and supplies. So the history of Starbucks really does have both its ups and downs in terms of public perception and opinion.