The history and origin of Starbucks dates back to 1971, when three friends, Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl and Gordon Bowker opened a small shop, as all of them had a passion for fresh coffee. They started by selling fresh-roasted, gourmet coffee beans and brewing and roasting accessories. The company began to do well. In fact, at that time, Starbucks was the largest roaster in Washington, with six retail outlets. However, things gradually began to change and in 1980, Zev Siegl sold out.
In 1981, a plastics salesman Howard Schultz noticed the number of plastic drip-brewing thermoses used by Starbucks, from his manufacturer, the Hammarplast. Howard Schultz eventually became a supporting salesman, of the company, seeing the potential in the product and the opportunity. In 1982, he gave a new life to the company. With his experience of the espresso and coffeehouse culture of Italy, he planned to start a similar coffeehouse culture in the United States.
This was opposed by the original partners, as for them coffee was meant to be brewed and enjoyed at home. In effect, they parted ways and Schultz opened Il Giornale, the first true United States-grown coffee bar chain. On the other hand, the original partners bought Peet's Coffee & Tea, where Jerry Baldwin works to this day, as "Roastmaster Emeritus". In 1987, the original partners finally sold Starbucks to Schultz. He merged it with Il Giornale to produce the Starbucks Corporation.
During that time, it had 17 stores in total, with its expansion plan in action. Starbucks started opening outlets outside Seattle and even opened one in Vancouver, Canada. In 1992, Starbucks became a publicly traded company, with 165 outlets. In 1996, it opened its first non North-American store in Tokyo. In 1998, it extended within the boundaries of Great Britain, purchasing the 60 stores of Seattle Coffee Company and rebranding them as Starbucks. Apart from this, it took over Seattle's Best Coffee, Torrefazione Italia and Diedrich Coffee.
Another interesting fact about Starbucks is that there were no stores in San Francisco till late. This is because Baldwin had negotiated a non-competition deal with Schultz to keep Starbucks out of San Francisco for ten years after the 1987 sale. The effect is still seen today as Peet's Coffee & Tea is more popular than Starbucks in the San Francisco region. Starbucks opened stores in Beijing and even inside the Forbidden Palace. It has recently opened two outlets in Bucharest, penetrating the Romanian market.
Since 2000, the free trade of the coffee has shown an increasing percentage of Starbucks sales. The current free trade of coffee accounts for 3.7 percent of the total Starbucks coffee sales. Last year, Starbucks was ranked as the 16th best company to work for in the United States. It is said that Starbucks' success is largely entitled to word of mouth advertising and this has significantly helped in making it a household name the world over.