Starbucks turns 40

The coffee giant is celebrating its birthday with a new logo and new menu items. Later this week, it will give out free petites samples to customers.

By Kim Peterson Mar 8, 2011 2:01PM
File photo of Starbucks barista (© Anthony Bolante/Reuters)It's hard to believe Starbucks (SBUX) has been caffeinating people for 40 years. The company opened its first store on March 30, 1971, and its three founders -- an English teacher, a history teacher and a writer -- each put in $1,350 to get the place going. Not a bad investment.

Four decades later, I'm willing to bet Starbucks' coffee isn't as good now. But that doesn't matter much, as the company is doing just fine with more than 15,000 stores in 50 countries. Its stock price has soared 45% in the past year to $34.28.

To celebrate its 40th birthday, Starbucks is rolling out a few changes. First, a new look in its stores and on its cups focused on its siren logo. The company removed its name from the logo, choosing instead to feature only the image of a siren, or sea nymph. Four stores in Beijing, Paris, London and New York City will unveil the new logo in their signage this week.

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Starbucks is also adding new menu items today, including a cocoa cappuccino with espresso, mocha sauce and steamed milk, and a new coffee made of four different beans called Tribute Blend.

Finally, Starbucks will begin focusing on its "petites" line of small sweets, including mini cupcakes, "cake pops" and lemon and salty caramel squares. It's giving free petites samples to customers Thursday through Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m. local time.

Starbucks has more than a big birthday to celebrate. It's finally climbed out of a difficult recession, when customers simply couldn't justify paying $4 for a latte. The company was bruised by some bad real-estate decisions and had to close 900 stores and lay off employees.

But as the economy rebounded, so did Starbucks' fortunes. The company just posted a fantastic quarter, and it's announcing new products and mobile-payment plans.

Starbucks' success and game-changing presence were so powerful that the company spawned a host of imitators. And it was a big reason McDonald's (MCD) created its McCafé line -- a move that has served Mickey D's very well.

Starbucks is moving quickly to expand into grocery stores. The company already has ice cream and instant coffee. Perhaps we might soon see Starbucks-branded juices or cereal bars.

So the little store from Pike Place Market is all grown up. And the pace at which Starbucks is moving now makes me think it will do more in the next 10 years than it has in the past 40. Whether that's a good thing or not is debatable.


Mar 8, 2011 3:47PM
Just a nitpicky correction; it's "Pike Place", not "Pike's Place".
Mar 8, 2011 2:58PM
Well this is the beginning of the end for S.B.!
They say  Starbucks is so much more than coffee!.... WRONG!!!  Without the coffee, Starbucks is NOTHING!!!

Things will continue to go up, then they will go down... way down.  Then they will fire the MORON who made these changes!  Especially the "logo"..... IT SO DOES SUCK!!! 
Mar 8, 2011 4:13PM

Howard still doesn't get it, the new logo sucks.  People expect to see what's been there since the begining.  Did Maxwell house take the cup of their packaging, etc, etc, etc.    Irie, there's not enought Blue Mountain coffee to cover all of Pennsylvania, let alone the country.  Yup, it was indeed a moron who made the changes.

Mar 8, 2011 5:59PM
Hmm, I just have to wonder how many people are out there rethinking the cost of a cup of Star Buck's.  At about $4.50 for a cup of coffee, it better magically transform me into a super model. With so many people out of work, and millions more worried that they'll be out of work I'm just wondering who is splurging on those Grande half-caff  triple whip frappichino's? Yes, SB makes a good cup of coffee--but seriously if you have a a decent coffee maker and use a quality bean that you grind yourself, you can make your own really great cup of coffee for a fraction of the cost.
Mar 9, 2011 10:00AM
New York bigots refuse to allow Walmart into the city, and yet they will enable Starbucks to infiltrate every corner and every hotel lobby.  And then they weep for the small business owners?  They wouldn't allow Toys R Us on the upper east side and yet they enable Gracious Home to take over an entire block in one of the most affluent areas of the city.  Where is the protection for small business owners, including the cart guys?  Incinsistent hippocrites!
Mar 9, 2011 12:22AM
First off, to the girl below me "puppcry", I don't know what you spend on a cup of coffee at your Starbucks, but I spend $1.50 (before tax). $4.50?? wow. I do not like how big Starbucks is and I do love my coffee & espresso (more so). So it is a bit scary seeing a corporation that dominating in the field, it will hurt the local cafes, who will provide a better product. I really do not like anything about Starbucks. I only get their coffee almost every morning, because where I live, I don't have other alternatives besides brewing it myself. And making a pot of coffee isn't going to happen for me since I don't work at home or even at an office for that matter.  When I move to the city, I will have alternatives and I will for sure take those cafes over a Starbucks any day, especially one who practices fair trade.

They are pushing this "tribute blend" coffee and it's awful. I wanted my bold brew and i had to get this as it was in it's place, after 2 cups I decided it's just bland and not good. I went in there today and got swamped by people trying to sell me a bag of beans. I said It wasn't bold and I do not care for it, but she replied that the owner of Starbucks said it was very bold and he must be right.. Hah, well he doesn't know his coffee then? Seriously, It was sad to hear these girls pushing this product like it was a drug, and being fed a bunch of lies.
Mar 8, 2011 3:47PM

Starbucks... Look out for Irie Blue Mountain Coffee Cafe in Coatesville, Pa. This small cafe served 100 percent Jamaican Blue Mountain and excellent customer service...10 years from now Starbucks will be competing against Irie Blue Mountain Coffee.

Mar 8, 2011 3:20PM
Well SB is not giving their clients the best.  Let's talk about what is.
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