How Moby Dick Inspired The Name Of Starbucks

There are few brands that have stood the test of time as robustly as Starbucks Coffee. That iconic image of the crowned white and green mermaid rules urban and suburban American landscapes from sea to shining sea. You can't get too far without running into a Starbucks anywhere in the states, and you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who didn't at least know the name.

So how did they craft such an iconic name for the brand? And does it have anything to do with whales? All of these are important questions needing to be answered.

According to the company's co-founder Gordon Bowker in an interview with The Seattle Times, the original name was going to be Cargo House, but Bowker says that now he and his counterparts are glad that the initial name was scrapped. Starbucks' website states that the name they chose is meant to evoke "the romance of the high seas and the seafaring tradition of early coffee traders," and it's in this thalassic love that we get to the root of our answer.

As the story goes...

Besides Cargo House, Gordon Bowker and his partners workshopped several different names. Pequod, the name of the ship in the Herman Melville classic "Moby Dick," was seriously considered for its ties to the sea and as an homage to a book that romanticized hell and high water. But it was scrapped when someone stated that "getting a cup of Pequod" didn't seem to sit right (via Refinery29).

From what Bowker can remember, his business partner Terry Heckler mentioned offhand that he felt "st" words felt powerful, and after a thought, Bowker agreed. While they were compiling a list of "st" words, someone pulled up a map and pointed to a small mining town in the Cascades called "Starbo." This reminded Bowker of first mate Starbuck from "Moby Dick." They slapped an "s" on the end of the character's name and agreed upon the moniker for the brand.

In truth, the name similarities between Starbucks the coffee brand and Starbuck the first mate is probably the closest link between "Moby Dick" and coffee, and Bowker acknowledges as much. But who knows, maybe if your barista gets it just right, your next cup of Starbucks coffee may be as exciting as the novel that inspired the company's name.