Why There's A Pig Sculpture Inside Starbucks' Original Pike Place Cafe

Green and white aprons. Seasonal lattes. Mellow indie-folk playlists. Starbucks has become so embedded in our culture that it's easy to forget it started as a humble, single-store peddler of coffee beans. But that initial enterprise would eventually launch over 35,000 branches and counting, all with split-tailed mermaids at their prow (via Statista).

For many tourists, the "first Starbucks" in Seattle's Pike Place Market is an attraction more appealing than the Space Needle. As described by Starbucks Stories, it draws a daily winding line that often is more than a block long. However, this particular Starbucks branch, which opened in 1976 at 1912 Pike Place, isn't the original location, which opened in 1971 at 2000 Western Avenue (per Planet of the Paul). 

Still, 1912 Pike Place is — like Canterbury or Graceland — a place of pilgrimage. Visitors arrive curious to see this early years Starbucks, which, according to Mashed, only served brewed coffee in the form of samples. And once inside, guests find that many of the original features remain — from the wooden counters to the brass coffee bin labels. Yet eventually, your eyes might land on an odd mascot — a proud pig made from coffee beans, raised on a lofty platform above the front door. 

But what is it doing there?

The surreal parade that Seattle's never forgotten

The cobblestoned waterfront market surrounding the Starbucks at 1912 Pike Place is a tourist attraction in itself, with a history stretching back to 1907 (via Seattle Municipal Archives). Since the 1980s, it's had its own beloved mascot — a life-sized bronze piggy bank named Rachel, who collects money for the community. She was later joined by a second pig, Billie, and together they've raised more than $350,000 (via Pike Place Market Foundation).

According to Pike Place Market Foundation, 10,000 people gathered on Memorial Day 2001 for a charity event honoring Rachel, which saw a glorious porcine procession of around 170 larger-than-life fiberglass pig sculptures "marching" from the market to West Lake Park. Known as Pigs on Parade, each sculpture was created by a local artist and had its own special look, whether that was Santa chic, bedazzled, or floral. The event was so significant that Starbucks created a pig for that now lives at its Pike Place location (via Starbucks Stories). Known as "Pork 'n' Beans," the swine is half-covered in a rustic burlap sack — a nod to the property's roots as a seed store — and half-covered with coffee beans.

Pork 'n' Beans is the unofficial guardian of the world's most famous coffee shop, making sure that the arabica is brewed just right — and that each customer is given a warm welcome.