Starbucks wasn’t always a massive business. Before 1987, it was just a company that sold ground coffee in bags, but after Howard Schultz bought the company, it laid the groundwork for one of the most ubiquitous names for coffee in the world.
With that much time under its belt, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there’s some weird Starbucks knowledge you may not be privy to.
The smell of the place
Howard Schultz wanting to establish a coffee brand was directly inspired by a visit he made to Milan, Italy in 1983, and one detail that stuck with him was the smell of coffee in those places.
As a result, Starbucks tries to make sure nothing interferes with the smell of coffee. They banned smoking all the way back in the late 1980s, and even ask employees not to wear perfume or cologne.
Via Flickr The old logo
It’s not exactly a secret that the original Starbucks logo was a bit different back in the day. When the company was originally founded, the mermaid at the logo’s center had bare breasts exposed, which was eventually changed. That’s not surprising, but the reasoning behind the change is amusing.
They didn’t mind the logo until they started making deliveries and realized that they would have to plaster their logo on trucks, and the idea of driving that around Seattle led to a revision.
An immunologist was the key to Starbucks’ success
You didn’t read that wrong. An immunologist by the name of Don Valencia perfected coffee bean extract that tasted just like real coffee on his spare time, and even had a barista he knew do a taste test. Word of the story got back to Howard Schultz who eventually hired Valencia to lead a research team at the company.
The end result was Starbucks retail products, which have made a lot of goddamn money since.
Yes, even the CIA has a Starbucks…
…And it shouldn’t be a shocker that working there has some quirks. Employees have to complete a background check from the CIA, and they can’t leave without a CIA escort. On top of that, the normal “write the name on the coffee cup and call the name out” routine is strictly forbidden, due to security.
There are Starbucks stores made out of… Shipping containers?
There aren’t many, but since 2011, a few Starbucks stores made out of shipping containers and other reused materials. They’re almost exclusively drive-in locations though, due to them being around 1,000 square feet of space.
Starbucks and Mr. Potato Head
Around 2009, when the company was trying to figure out how to demonstrate to employees on how to cut down on idle time, Starbucks executive Scott Heydon came up with an… Interesting demonstration.
He instructed managers to assemble a Mr. Potato head, and put him back in his box in 45 seconds. Apparently, a supervisor got so good at this particular skill that he could do it in under 16 seconds.
Considering Starbucks hired an immunologist to develop their coffee extract, the existence of the Clover machine is inevitable. Clover is proprietary tech engineered by Stanford. It involves a vacuum, and it doesn’t come cheap. Installing the device costs $13,000, and supposedly the cups of coffee it brews are fantastic (I hope so, for that price tag).
Why the round tables?
If you ever notice a lot of round tables in Starbucks, there’s a reason for it. Starbucks believes that if you go to a Starbucks alone, sitting at a round table is more comfortable than sitting at a rectangular table where there’s obviously supposed to be more people.
Via YouTube Of course the Disney World Starbucks is awesome
Yeah, Disney went all out with their Starbucks in Downtown Disney. Instead of the standard chalkboard with drink specials, the location has a 70-inch touch screen that renders illustrations in real time. Customers can play with the screen by drawing on it, using it for selfies, and even seeing what’s going on in the Disney Anaheim Starbucks.
The employee dress code
Earlier, we mentioned that Starbucks was inspired by Howard Schultz traveling to Milan. He brought Milan’s wardrobe back with him too, because apparently the bow ties and white shirts associated with Starbucks were inspired by that time in Milan.
The dress code is less strict these days, but you still can’t have bright jewelry, dyed unnatural hair colors are looked down on, and if you have ear gauges they must be less than 10mm.
The battle over nonfat milk
There was an internal battle at Starbucks between executive Howard Behar and Howard Schultz over non-fat milk. Schultz thought nonfat milk took away the Italian flavor he was looking for, but Behar pointed out that many customer comment cards were begging for more options.
The stalemate ended when Schultz saw a customer walk away from a Starbucks after the customer didn’t think there were enough options.
Via Vimeo The Starbucks “Ski-Thru”
The Gold Coast Resort in Squaw Valley, California has a pretty unique pick-up system. There’s not a drive-thru, but a ski-thru for people on the resort (and they take orders from the ski-lift as well, so you can wipe out and eventually make your way down to get the hot coffee you desperately need).
Where did the newspapers go?
If you’ve been to a Starbucks over the years, you might have noticed that there were various newspapers for sale like The New York Times or Wall Street Journal, but they’ve now disappeared. Why? Simple, a lot of customers didn’t realize they were for sale and thought they were free. After enough lost revenue, they’ve simply got rid of them.
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