Since 1987, Starbucks’s star has been on the rise, growing from 11 Seattle, WA-based stores to more than 1,000 worldwide. Its goals grew, too, from the more modest, albeit fundamental one of offering high-quality coffee beans roasted to perfection to, more recently, opening a new store somewhere every day. An exemplary success story, Starbucks is identified with innovative marketing strategies, employee-ownership programs, and a product that’s become a subculture. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a manager, a marketer, or a curious Starbucks loyalist, Pour Your Heart into It will let you in on the revolutionary Starbucks venture. CEO Howard Schultz recounts the company’s rise in 24 chapters, each of which illustrates such core values as “Winning at the expense of employees is not victory at all.”
Introducing the life you’d gladly stand in line for
You don’t stand in line at Starbucks® just to buy a cup of coffee. You stop for the experience surrounding the cup of coffee.
Too many of us line up for God out of duty or guilt. We completely miss the warmth and richness of the experience of living with God. If we’d learn to see what God is doing on earth, we could participate fully in the irresistible life that he offers.
You can learn to pay attention like never before, to identify where God is already in business right in your neighborhood. The doors are open and the coffee is brewing. God is serving the refreshing antidote to the unsatisfying, arms-length spiritual life–and he won’t even make you stand in line.
Let Leonard Sweet show you how the passion that Starbucks® has for creating an irresistible experience can connect you with God’s stirring introduction to the experience of faith.
I recently picked up “It’s Not About the Coffee: Leadership Principles from a Life at Starbucks”.
As you might know, I am a bit of coffee coin-a-sewer, owning a $2000 espresso machine and such. You might also remember the only popular blog post I’ve ever written – the one about the Starbucks logo. I was always very interested in everything Starbucks. The reason? Well, I really could not understand how a company with coffee that is so bad could be so popular. I mean, have you tasted the stuff?
“It’s Not About the Coffee” – wow, I thought, this should clear some things up. Because, I for sure know that it’s not about the coffee. I’ve had good coffee. It just can’t be about the coffee.
The first sentence of the book (int the A Note to Readers) reads: “Although this book is titled It’s Not About the Coffee, of course it is about the coffee–it’s about the people and the coffee.” Leadership lesson number one: start out with a lie, then weasel out.
Cloying, sacchariney corporate doublespeak only got worse on the following several pages, I am not even sure I can get through the book at all. There might be some interesting Starbucks anecdotes further down, so I’ll keep trying. Meanwhile I get a weird feeling about Howard Behar – the same I used to get about Soviet Politburo members: I could not understand if they believed themselves in the ideals that they extolled.
Ok, I read a couple of more pages, and was instantly rewarded by learning this interesting, although disturbing fact: besides the coffee passport, which I knew about, there’s a piece of corporate propaganda known as the “Green Apron Book.” Almost like Chairman Mao’s “Little Red Book”. Neat.
All of this reminded me a story that I’ve read somewhere about a North Korean student at a Moscow university that used to carry around with him a little portrait of the Great Leader, Kim Il-sung. He would meditate, looking at the picture for hours, and even used it instead of a mirror while shaving. When asked – how could he shave without a mirror, he said – this is better than a mirror.
I guess, if you can make people shave in front of a portrait, you can make them believe that Starbucks coffee is tasty. There are ways…
Livejournal has the best community blogs. I frequently read baristas even though it’s often full of petty grievances, tean angst and other Livejournal-flavored posts. But some are absolute gems. Like this story of an old lady who asked baristas to give her empty syrup bottles. After a month of getting the empties, someone curious asked her about how she was using them. Her response too honest for her own good, as she got no more bottles. It turned out that she was giving the bottles to her daughter for bottling moonshine.
[update] Starbucks logo changes again.
You are probably here because you looked closely at the Starbucks logo and were a little confused about what is depicted on it. Is it a mermaid? What are those things that she is holding up with her hands? Wasn’t the logo different before? What’s the history of it?
Basically, from what I gathered from different sources, including that book, there is a lot of confusion between the different mythological half-women. Typically they are called Sirens – both the half-bird/half-woman and the half-fish/half-woman varieties. The fish type are usually called Mermaids. Both types according to the ancient Greeks were in the business of seducing mariners with songs and promises of sex and then killing them, but Hans Christian Andersen and Disney mostly made everybody forget that.
The whole sex-symbol status of mermaids hinges on the question which part is “woman” – upper or lower. “The other type of mermaid” that hapless Fry was referring to would have problems attracting suitors, of course. And how do you do it with the normal type?
Wise mythologists came up with the answer, of course. And the answer is a two-tailed mermaid sometimes called a Melusine.
The book had an old engraving of a two-tailed mermaid. It reminded me of the Starbucks Siren, but back then I did not realize that the original Starbucks logo had a slightly altered version of that engraving in the original brown cigar band-shaped logo.
Notice that the graphic designer removed the belly button, the unattractive shading around the bulging tummy of the 15th century siren and merged the tail-legs to remove the suggestion of naughty bits. The logo Siren also smiles a little while its 15th century doppelganger is looking rather grim. Other than that it’s clear that this is exactly the image that he or she was using.
According to uspto.gov “[Starbucks] mark consists of the wording “Starbucks Coffee” in a circular seal with two stars, and the design of a siren (a two-tailed mermaid) wearing a crown”.
Here’s the “cigar band” logo from which I took the image above. The original hippie Starbucks owners did not sell espresso drinks, but mostly sold coffee beans, tea and spices. Today Starbucks sells liquor and ice cream, but no spices if you don’t count the cinnamon gum and the stuff on the condiment table.
The next, more familiar green iteration of the logo has a more attractive stylized siren. The chest is hidden, but the belly button is still there.
Here is the current logo. They cropped the siren image so that only a hint of the tails is visible. I asked hourly partners at Starbucks and friends, and none of them could figure out what those things to the side of Siren’s head were.
Lately I’ve stopped seeing pictures of the Siren on Starbucks mugs – they seem to favor just the word “Starbucks”. I also started seeing the new type of the siren as part of store decoration and on coffee packaging. She only has one tail. I guess the family-unfriendly image of a fish-woman spreading her tails is on its way out.
[update] Here’s a picture of the new siren:
The brown Siren logo can still be found on merchandize sold at the original Pike Place Market Starbucks in Seattle. The logo is altered though – instead of a “cigar band” design it uses just a circle logo. Cigar band logo mugs and coffee jars can still be found on eBay for upwards of $50 per mug and $200 per coffee jar. I am still looking for anything bearing an “Il Giornale” (a company founded byHoward Schultz that later ended up buying out Starbucks with the help of none other than Bill Gates Sr.) logo.
I was alerted to another article that explores the Siren’s symbolism. I haven’t used it in my research, but it is very thorough.
[Update] The whole logo history is described pretty well in Pour Your Heart into It : How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time. The book is full of other Starbucks trivia: if I remember correctly, it states that Howard Schultz is a close friend of Yanni.
I received some information from Doug Fast, the designer behind the green logo. He also graciously sent me some rare examples of the logo, for which I am extremely thankful.
“I am the guy who designed the green SBUX logo. The original brown SBUX logo was designed in 1971 by my employer before I started working for him in January 1974. ( I still work there as a designer) The design company was then called Heckler/ Bowker, here in Seattle. Bowker (the company copy writer) was one of the three original founders of SBUX and left Heckler/ Bowker in 1984 to take on SBUX full time. (there were 5-6 stores at that time) The other two founders were; Jerry Baldwin and Zev Siegal. Heckler/Bowker came up with the Starbucks name and Heckler came up with the first (brown) logo. The other name strongly suggested was Pequod, but lost out to Starbucks.
The original SBUX store was NOT in the Public Market or in the Arcade as people think. It was at the corner of Western Avenue & Virginia, just north, across the street from the Public Market at the foot of the steep hill going up to 1st Avenue, and opened it’s doors in March 1971. I have a photo of it and also a drawing of it that was on an SBUX Christmas card from 1977.
The first retail Starbucks coffee drink concept store was originally called Il Giornale, and located on 4th Avenue in downtown Seattle. There was only one of these stores ever. I designed the logo for that in 1985-86, plus the coffee bag packaging, and still have the stationary, bags, and cup designs in my sample file. Howard Schultz was still an employee of SBUX at that time, not the owner, as I’ve seen said in previous blog info. here.
The reason only ONE Il Giornale store ever existed was because of the purchase of SBUX by Howard and his investers, and because the SBUX name and logo had so much capital already, they changed Il Giornale back to SBUX and wanted a more reproducable SBUX design, to go national.
I did the green “full siren” logo with a stronger, simpler, read for reproduction. The SBUX type was HAND DRAWN and based on the typeface, Franklin Gothic (this was pre-computer, folks) and had to be drawn so it bent well, around the circle. We submitted the logo to Howard, one with a red color and one in a green color. He picked the green color option.
In 1992 we had to blow up the siren to eliminate the spread, so called suggestive tails, so that’s the version you see today.
I still have most of the original concept work for the creation of this logo in one of my big sketchbooks. To me at the time, it was just another logo job to do. Who would have thought I’d be sick of seeing it all over the place. It isn’t one of my best logos.”
Original stores from the old coffee bag:
The original “cigar band” logo:
Il Giornale logo:
Green “bellybutton” logo
One of the newer coffee bags that reimagines the siren:
New “cigar band” logo with covered up nipples and cleaner lines:
New plastic stirrer / plug in the shape of the siren:
Old logo at one of the first (from what I hear it’s not the “original” location) stores at the Pike Market in Seattle
Did reading this article inspire you to write a poem about Starbucks? You can use Rhymebuster, the algorithmic rap generator. Turns out a lot of things rhyme with Starbucks (other than sucks).
While buying coffee at hidden Starbucks I browsed through the little pamphlets that they have next to condiments and stirring sticks (did you notice that they have Splenda now?). What have I learned? Firstly, I learned that a Starbucks grunt’s official title is “hourly partner”. Cordwainer Smith’s rhyme comes to mind : “I need a temporary dog / For a temporary job / On a temporary place / Like Earth!” I kind of collect peculiar corporate job titles, as I’ve mentioned at the end of an earlier Thought Tally.
Secondly I learned that you can come into any Starbucks and ask for complimentary coffee grounds. As it turns out, coffee grounds make an excellent nitrogen fertilizer for your garden. I wonder if Starbucks coffee is a good fertilizer – it sure tastes that way.
Why I drink the Starbucks fertilizer? Because my lunch break is short and Joe’s is in the Village. By the way, recently I’ve learned that there’s another good coffee place called Ninth Street Espresso. I need to pay them a visit.
I also need to some other coffee and caffeine news. There’s a new trend in espresso making. The innovative barristas started cutting off the bottoms of portafilters. This lets them notice any minute imperfections in packing of grinds and have outstanding quality control of the extraction. It also looks cool as hell. I am thinking about doing the same with one of my spare portafilters.
I learned this interesting tidbit because these days there are several outstanding blogs kept by super high quality coffee house operators. There’s Victrola Coffee, Blue Bottle Clown College and Tonx Dot Org. I suggest that you subscribe to their feeds unless you can’t stand heartbreakingly beautiful photos of artisanal caffeinated drinks.
In other news I seem to be totally addicted to matcha tea. I got some awesome “thick tea” from Japan and it rocks.
Advertising might be the engine of commerce, but there is a surprising number of NYC businesses are hidden inside skyscrapers with almost no indication of them on the outside.
For instance, me and my co-workers often go to a Starbucks that is located in a lobby of a skyscraper. There is no sign outside, and inside you need to pass a security guy (who surprisingly lets you through) and turn a corner. I could not believe my eyes – you absolutely had to know where that Starbucks was.
There is nothing special about our hidden Starbucks, except it is the closest one to us and the lines are usually shorter. They do have an old style La Marzocco machine not yet replaced by the new superautomatics, but the barrista has no idea about how to grind the coffee and tamp it properly. I guess they don’t teach that anymore at Starbucks U.
There is a more interesting hidden place that we frequent. It’s a restaurant called Taam-Tov (46 West 47th Street, 4th floor 212-768-8001) which happens to be located on the fourth floor of a dumpy and decrepit art deco building in the middle of the Jewelry district on 47th street. To be fair I have to mention that there is a little sign on the step of a staircase that can be seen from outside. But you have to climb 8 flights of stairs, past dirty walls, an exposed phone comm. box and frequent full trash bags. There you will see an unmarked closed door and a small open order window.
Alternatively you can enter a jewelry store on the first floor and take a tiny little elevator, which will deposit you inside the restaurant. I strongly discourage you from using it.
Once me and three of my co-workers, one of whom is “portlier” than I am (and I am pretty “portly” myself), two have asthma and only one inhaler, despite my reluctance chose to take that tiny elevator. We let a bunch of people go up before us, waited for the elevator to come back and boarded it. Immediately what seemed to me like three shady looking Russian jewelers squeezed in after us. To my horror I noticed that in fact there was a fourth guy with them, just as sweaty and unshaven, but really short and skinny. Of course we got stuck between the floors and it took me and one of the jewelers few very uncomfortable minutes to figure out how to open the doors. Oh, and I forgot to mention – the co-worker who insisted the most on the elevator was not only slightly asthmatic, but a bit claustrophobic as well.
Anyway, the place is rather unique. The patrons are mostly jewelers – you might see them exchanging large sums of money and gold or diamonds, but there are a lot of programmers from surrounding offices who also found that place somewhere. Since the place was featured in the last issue of Time Out New York dedicated to cheapest restaurants, there the mix will be a bit more eclectic in the future.
The cuisine can be described as Middle Eastern/Russian, typical of the Baku region. Everything is cooked on site (in fact I’ve witnessed a small kitchen fire once that was quickly taken under control while everyone continued eating), kosher and very tasty. Shish kabobs are excellent (my favorite is rib kabob), so are soups. Just don’t ask for sour cream for your Borscht – and you can be sure that they don’t use Ukrainian pork fat. Other than that it’s very good. There are good salads, golubtsi, pelmeni, shawarma, etc. They even have kompot – Russian fruit punch and green tea served in small “piala” cups with sugar cubes (for drinking “vprikusku”).
Over the years I had lunch at Taam Tov with my boss, my boss’ bosses there, my co-workers, three different livejournal users and many other people. And until I’ve read Time Out New York article I did not know that one floor below Taam Tov there’s a second hole in the wall restaurant called Sabor Latino.
I always liked the concept of branding. There is something very noble in putting your mark on something you created. If programmers were always required to put their name and contact information as a comment in every piece of code they wrote, maybe there would be less bad code. People usually are embarrassed to put their brand on something inferior. And if not, at least the end users would know whose abomination they are dealing with. There is a bank near where I live. It’s called Roslyn. That’s a weird name, right? Ok, I thought. Maybe that’s the name of the founder. The rose on the logo is because of “ros” in the name. Heart? That’s something the graphic designer put into it. But then, during the remodel of the building I noticed the original name plaque which was visible for a short period of time. And it turned out that the name of the bank probably occurred kind of like the “fishbulb” Mr. Sparkle from that Simpsons episode.
Announcer: [in English] Mr. Sparkle. A joint venture of Matsumura Fishworks [a smiling fish appears on the left half of the screen] and Tamaribuchi Heavy Manufacturing Concern [a light bulb appears on the right half of the screen. The two logos meld to form — Mr. Sparkle!] The bank near me used to be called Roosevelt Bank. And then it merged with Lincoln Bank.
I might be wrong about this though. It’s just that I’ve also seen a Lincoln bank in Brooklyn that became Roslyn. I am also not sure which Roosevelt this was, Teddy or FDR. Anyway, moving on. I noticed for the fist time the special “nibbled” letter “O” in Microsoft’s logo when I was on Microsoft’s campus. At first I thought that it was just a “bug” – maybe the logo manufacturer missed a small piece :). In the cafeteria that was near the artificial waterfall I had a burger called “the blibbet burger”. I only learned what that was much, much later. Apparently the old MS logo featured a funky letter “O” which was called “the blibbet”. In 1982 the new, much more subtle logo was introduced. The programmers were already mightily pissed by marketing people which were starting to play a much more important role and this was the last drop — a huge “Save The Blibbet” campaign swept the campus. I dug this up at uspto.gov: I am still pissed off that I didn’t see Lake Bill (check out this awesome 3d view) and the Microsoft museum. And our handlers didn’t have any extra coupons for the Microsoft company store. Maybe next time. Now Starbucks. It took me a while to realize that the woman on the *$ logo is a mermaid. You see, I was used to a regular, single tailed variety. But apparently the one on the logo is a two tailed mermaid (or a siren) referred to as Melusine. I’ve read about it in some book about symbolism that I purchased at Barnes&Noble. Apparently the two tails have something to do with the Melusine’s ability to have sex with sailors, and being a sexual symbol. Think about it. I bet the whole thing with spread legs/tails on the logo is what caused the later redesign of the logo, on which you can only see the upper part of the Starbucks siren. The old logo is usually referred to as the “bellybutton logo” because you can see the siren’s bellybutton. Items with the old logo are pretty hard to come by.
In fact, the first logo wasn’t even green, it was brown. But I’ll write more about Starbucks later. More? You want more? Well, I wrote about the three versions of NASA logo, the Worm , the Vector and The Meatball here.
I’ve pretty much settled into a way of working with dead tree books. It works as follows: I carry a pack of tiny little post-its in my pocket. When I find an interesting quote I put a postit on the edge of the page. Later I scan the text of interest to me with my c-pen.
I’ll be posting interesting snippets in my journal for your amusement.
Right now I am reading a books about Starbucks Coffee Corp. called “Pour Your Heart into It : How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time“.
The author, Howard Schultz tells his rags to riches story. He talks about his father not being a good provider when he was little and how he made it big. He puts the emphasis on how he tried to make Starbucks a company that would treat people like his father better. I also have to cringe every time he mentions coffee quality and “romance” of Starbucks stores.
But sometimes it gets just really hilarious:
About his wife :
“Sheri was on the rise in her career, working for an Italian furniture maker as a designer and marketer. She painted our walls light salmon and began to use her professional skills to create a home in our loft-style space. “
About his friend:
“We had a great life, A few years later, Harold introduced me to his nephew, a rising jazz saxophonist known as Kenny G. We were two young men, each aspiring to make a mark in different fields, and our friendship grew as we faced similar kinds of challenges. Kenny eventually invested in the business, too, and even played at employee events and per- formed benefit concerts at our plant and market openings. His music became a part of the culture of the company. “
Also interesting is that William H. Gates II, William H. Gates III’s dad, helped Schultz fight some legal battles.
Bought this today in a drugstore. Is it me, or does it seem that Duane Reed pharmacies are multiplying like Starbucks?