Howard Schultz announced this week that he will be stepping down as the executive chairman of Starbucks, the company he founded in 1971 with one store in Seattle’s Pike Place, and now has more than 28,000 stores in 77 countries.
In this era of breakthrough technology and apps that transform our lives, Starbucks became ubiquitous. To many, it’s the “third place” between home and work, and has transformed the way we socialize.
Starbucks and Schultz are synonymous, but few know his interesting back story.
He joined Starbucks as its marketing director just as it was opening its fourth shop. On a vacation to Italy, he became obsessed by the aura and culture surrounding coffee and tried to convince Starbucks’s owners to sell espresso, but they disagreed.
He left Starbucks in 1986 to open his own coffee shop, which he named Il Giornale. He later bought the Starbucks coffee business from the original owners, renamed his own shop Starbucks—and the rest is history.
Schultz and Starbucks changed the way Americans regard and drink coffee. It is a classic story about a guy from meager beginnings in Brooklyn, NY who had an idea and made it real.
Now, I think I’ll run out and grab a mocha skim latte.