STARBUCKS: Get to know the ‘luring’ history behind the name and the logo

Image by Starbucks Newsroom

No doubt you keep seeing people posting selfies while holding a product of the giant coffee company. Being the world’s biggest coffeehouse chain, comprising of approximately 20,891 stores in 62 countries, like everything that became very successful, started out as simple as small. But have you ever wondered what that woman in the picture is, and what’s its connection to the company name?

Let’s not prolong the suspense, that woman is a special mermaid, and the name ‘Starbucks,’ believe it or not, is somehow connected to sea-faring and marine stuff.

Howard Schultz, former Starbucks’ CEO, has revealed the story behind the name in his book, Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time.

The first Starbucks opened in Seattle, Washington, on March 31, 1971, by three partners who met while they were students at the University of San Francisco. The three were inspired to sell high-quality coffee beans and equipment by coffee roasting entrepreneur Alfred Peet after he taught them his style of roasting beans.

The first Starbucks store was located in Seattle at 2000 Western Avenue from 1971–1976. And from a simple single store, it has grown into the most loved coffee in the mainstream.

Here’s the thing: Starbucks was NOT the original name, but the three founders namely Jerry Baldwin (English teacher) Zev Siegl (a history teacher) and Gordon Bowker (a writer) were inspired by a famous piece of literature – Moby Dick. Yes, that story which tells of the obsessive quest of a man, for revenge on Moby Dick, the white whale. But why? A writer, a history teacher and an English teacher who seem fond of literature starting a business, that’s why.

The trio had initially called their business ‘Pequod’ after the ship in the Moby Dick novel, but Bowker’s business partner from another company, Terry Heckler, had raised some doubts and had some suggestions and a better idea.

Heckler thought words beginning with “st” were powerful.

So after playing around with options and brainstorming, they decided on the name of the first mate aboard the Pequod, Starbuck. But what made them decide to put a seal on the idea is when someone pulled out an old mining map of the Cascade Range and they saw a mining town named “Starbo”. A coincidence or was it destined?

The Logo

Since its creation, the original Starbucks logo has undergone many changes. The logo design saw dramatic changes in the year 1987 when the company was acquired by the aforementioned Howard Schultz. It was Schultz who got the otherwise complicated Starbucks logo cleaned up a bit and added a more corporate polished look and feel to this business logo design. Despite of all the dramatic changes made to the design, Starbucks logo still retains its original ‘Mermaid’ icon.

Yes, that woman is actually a mermaid, specially, a two-tailed mermaid. Yes we know that the founders loved the sea, whale, moby dick, and starbuck stuff, But why a mermaid?

Greek mythology has it that sirens (mermaids) lured sailors to shipwreck off the coast of an island in the South Pacific, also sometime referred to as Starbuck Island. So that’s basically it, like the luring siren, the logo is being used by Starbucks to lure coffee lovers!