Who Were The Founders Of Starbucks?

A lot happened in the year 1971; Walt Disney World opened in Florida, the Vietnam war raged on, and Starbucks opened its first store at Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington. At the time, we're sure it didn't seem world-changing. Bigger things were going down, and a lone coffee shop opening in the Pacific Northwest didn't seem to weigh too heavily on many people's minds. Now, that original coffee shop in the Evergreen State is swarmed daily by those who are committed to seeing where the internationally famous coffee chain first got its legs.

History Link describes Starbucks today as a multinational corporation known for its coffee brews, beans, food items, and retail items. When the company first began, however, it was not nearly so widespread, nor did it have as many purchasable items. Starbucks began by selling Peet's Coffee beans, which is a California-based coffee brand, and little else. In fact, they only sold coffee beans, not the ready-to drink-beverages we pick up at the drive-thru today. It wasn't until 1982 when brewed coffee began being sold from behind the counter, and a few years after that, the first full espresso bar was opened. From there, the company just kept on expanding. 

Starbucks has stayed afloat for over 50 years now, but it's important to remember that we wouldn't have the brand today without three particular individuals: Jerry Baldwin, Gordon Bowker, and Zev Siegl.

The three musketeers ... and Howard Schultz

Jerry Baldwin, Gordon Bowker, and Zev Siegl began their partnership after being long-time friends. According to the Starbucks Archive, the trio first met and bonded when they all attended the University of San Francisco. Starbucks was the brainchild of an English teacher, a history teacher, and a writer who loved good company and better coffee. The gentlemen were only in their 20s when they began this coffee venture and none of them had any idea that it would forever change the way Americans consumed coffee.

Britannica says that the three decided to call their coffee business "Starbucks" after a character in the book "Moby Dick" by Herman Melville. They based their business model on the Peet's Coffee and Tea stores they were familiar with in Berkeley, California. Scribe reports that a man named Howard Schultz joined the company in 1982 and encouraged Starbucks to become not just a place that sells roasted coffee beans, but a store that was more reminiscent of the Italian espresso bars he'd grown to love. 

Today, Starbucks has over 35,000 stores worldwide and is a powerhouse of the coffee world. None of that would have been possible without the efforts of the three original founders, and Schultz's guidance.