Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Original Starbucks

I’m writing to you from Seattle - The Emerald City! Fortunately, I was able to accompany my dad on a business trip here and I’m quickly learning how incredible this city is! Seattle is home to many famous people (including bands) and is filled with history and culture. More importantly, Seattle has a long history of coffee culture and is home to the original Starbucks!

In 1971 the first Starbucks store opened in Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market. The name was inspired by Moby Dick and the logo (a seductive siren) evoked the romance of high seas and the seafaring tradition of the early coffee traders. Howard Shultz, the CEO, President and Chairman of Starbucks, joined the company in 1982 and proceeded to explore Italy to research Italian Coffee Bars. He looked for a way to bring the traditional Italian coffee experience to America.

The original location is right inside the Pike Place Market and has maintained it’s original décor and atmosphere. The sign outside is in old lettering and the inside is really small, with no seating! There is always a lineup out the door that consists of either tourists browsing the collectables, or regulars zipping in and out for their daily coffee. The original siren logo is brown and white and advertises coffee, tea and spices. It can be seen both outside and inside the store.

Although the original location was fun to visit, my favourite Starbucks store in Seattle was located on 1st and Pine Street, just steps away from the Pike Place Market. This store opened in 2009 and everything about the design, from the lighting and hardwood to the furniture was so unique. This location had more of a ‘living room’ atmosphere than any other Starbucks I have ever visited. It is the first LEED Gold Certified Store, which means the store made from recyclable materials.

Notable elements include:

  • The leather on bar’s outer facing was scrap obtained from shoe and automobile factories.
  • The walnut used in the tables, doors and bar top was salvaged from a nearby farm.
  • The signage on the bar uses recycled slate from a local high school.
  • The community table is twice reused; it was previously located at a Seattle restaurant and before that, in a home.
  • The restroom partitions are made from recycled laundry detergent bottles.
  • The wall tapestry is made of repurposed burlap coffee bags from a local roasting plant. 

Today Starbucks has more than 18,000 stores and operates in over 60 countries. It is the premier roaster and retailer of specialty coffee in the world. It’s fun to see how locations can differ across the world or even within the same city! What never changes is the sense of community and the connection you feel every time you enter a Starbucks. From a small, narrow store in Seattle to an internationally recognized brand, Starbucks has grown to be such a successful business.

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