Starbucks: Brewing Customer Experience through Social Media

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Background Note

Starbucks was started by Gordon Bowker (Bowker), Jerry Baldwin (Baldwin), along with Zev Siegl (Siegl) in the US. Bowker was a writer, Baldwin an English teacher, and Siegl, a history teacher. They opened the first Starbucks store in 1971 in Pike Place Market, Seattle and called it Starbucks Coffee, Tea and Spice. The first store sold fresh-roasted, gourmet coffee beans and brewing and roasting accessories. The firm’s logo was a two tailed mermaid with the store’s name around it, designed by an artist friend of the trio.

Encouraged by the response that the store received, the founders decided to open their second store at the University District in Seattle. By 1980, Starbucks had become the largest roaster of coffee in Washington, with six retail outlets. In the same year, Zev Siegl sold his share in the partnership to Baldwin and Bowker, and left to pursue other interests. Around the early 1980s, Starbucks attracted the attention of Schultz, who was then the vice-president of Hammarplast AB’s (Hammarplast) US operations and was based in New York.

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Shortly thereafter, on a business visit to Milan, Italy, Schultz noticed that every street had coffee bars which not only served espressos and other coffee-based drinks, but also were meeting places where people could socialize. On his return, Schultz tried to convince the owners to enter the restaurant business. Although Baldwin did not share Schultz’s enthusiasm, he let him experiment with selling espresso in a corner of the Starbucks store that opened in April 1984 in downtown Seattle. This proved very successful, with the store serving 400 customers by the end of the first day (compared to an average of about 250 customers a day in other Starbucks stores)........

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