The Fresh-Roasted Smell of Success…


“The only way the oil companies could make more money,” Jay Leno quipped a couple of years ago, “would be if they were drilling for oil and struck Starbucks coffee.”

In today’s Wall Street Journal, Matthew Rees writes about Taylor Clark’s “Starbucked” (Little, Brown & Co., 297 pages, $25.99), a double tall tale of caffeine, commerce, and culture. Rees cites that “there are now 10,000 stores spread across North America (more than 170 in Manhattan alone) and an additional 4,000 in more than 40 countries”. “Starbucked” is Taylor Clark’s account of the company’s life and success.


  • The first Starbucks was the brainchild of a Seattle-based writer, Gordon Bowker.
  • After Howard Schultz took the helm in 1987, multiplying began: 11 new stores in 1988, 20 in 1989, 30 in 1990, and 32 in 1991.
  • Mr. Schultz recruited Mary Williams, a veteran coffee buyer, to purchase beans directly from leading growers in Guatemala and elsewhere.
  • Starbucks prefers to be near dry cleaners and video stores, because they require two visits–for dropping off and picking up.
  • “We’re not in the coffee business serving people, ” [Mr. Schultz] likes to say, “we’re in the people business serving coffee.”
  • Staff turnover is lower at Starbucks than at similar establishments, not least because the company provides full health benefits for even part-time workers.
  • Starbucks is 25 times bigger than its closest competitor, Caribou Coffee.
  • The stock’s movements are detailed by Karen Blumenthal in “Grande Expectations: A Year in the Life of Starbucks’ Stock”
  • Starbucks-free communities seek to attract stores.
  • Coffee retail experts advise independents not to open a store until there is a Starbucks in town, since Starbucks is likely to create a clientele for coffee that otherwise wouldn’t exist.
  • Starbucks’ share of the U.S. coffee market is only about 8%. It has announced plans to open 10,000 new stores world-wide over the next four years.

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