Chances are, if you live in a big city, you can’t walk anywhere without going past a Starbucks location. Everyone can recognize that green logo because it’s all over the United States. Whether you love it or hate it, Starbucks is a massive coffee chain that has huge domination in the market and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. This is especially prominent during the holiday seasons, with Pumpkin Spice Latte fever being a huge symptom of the fall months. During that time it’s very common to see those signature white coffee cups in the hands of people all over the place. Even with the high price tag that comes with some of the fancier, more complex drinks, there is no deterring the people who simply love the Starbucks experience. It’s no secret that Starbucks is one of the most successful franchises in America right now. But there are some secrets you may not be aware of, and we’re officially spilling the beans on everything you need to know.
10. There Are Four Main Templates For The Inside of Each Store
If you are one of those people that immediately stops at a Starbucks once you hit a new city or area, you’ve probably noticed a consistently non-consistent feel going on in the different locations. That’s because, depending on the neighborhood of that particular location, one of these four templates is selected for design purposes. This is done in an effort to ensure that a Starbucks location has the best fit for its specific community. The templates include Heritage, Artisan, Regional Modern, and Concept. Heritage is designed to reflect the original Starbucks store in Seattle, with wood floors, industrial style lighting, metal stools, and large community tables designed to convey a “turn of the century” feel. The Artisan concept includes an urban, industrial vibe with features like exposed steel beams and masonry walls. Regional Modern includes what the company refers to as “a trend-setting style that is comfortable and welcoming.” That means things like bright, warm spaces that reflect a specific region’s culture or heritage. Concept stores are basically an experiment in progress by Starbucks to adopt certain locations to the vibe of their neighborhoods, making them truly unique while still contained within the Starbucks brand. Essentially, a Starbucks designer takes important elements from a community and tries to incorporate them into the store design.
9. Your Dog Can Enjoy a Starbucks Treat, Too
If you like to bring your furry friend on your Starbucks runs with you, you can actually get them their own Starbucks treat. The “Puppuccino” is just a little sample cup with some whipped cream in it. Unfortunately, you can’t order it through the Starbucks app because it’s not a real menu item. But it’s free (depending on which location you’re going to, as it’s up to the manager’s discretion), and it means your doggo can enjoy your coffee runs just as much as you do. Just make sure you actually have your dog with you, and that you’re not abusing the system by getting multiple puppucinos a day! Chances are you may have even seen those adorable videos all over the internet of various pooches enjoying their own puppucinos. Like the viral story of the Ohio police dog who chose to devour one in under 30 seconds on his day off. This story prompted many others to respond with their own photos and videos of their dogs enjoying the delicious treat. Because who doesn’t love looking at happy dogs gobbling out of a Starbucks cup and coming up with a white, sticky face? Now, as with human treats, you want to make sure you keep things in moderation. Whipped cream is generally okay for dogs to eat, but too much of it could cause a sugar overload that can be bad for the digestive system. It could also lead to some very unwanted gas from your furry friend. But from time to time, if your pup enjoys his own treat every now and then, who’s to say Fido can’t live a little?
8. It’s a Secret Waistline Killer
Take the pastries, for example. The Cinnamon Chip scone actually has more calories than a Quarter Pounder from McDonald’s! And chances are you’re probably pairing that scone with one of the restaurant’s signature drinks, which means you’re adding even more bad stuff to the mix. Some of those drinks are full of calories and sugar, and even when you modify the milk, toppings, or other mix-ins, it can still add up. A grande Green Tea Frappuccino contains 300 calories and 63 grams of sugar. That’s over twice the daily recommended sugar intake for an adult – just in a drink. Here’s another freaky McDonald’s comparison. A Starbucks Venti White Chocolate Creme Frappuccino has 510 calories, while a McDonald’s Big Mac has 540. That’s only a 30 calorie difference. This isn’t even counting the sugar content, which can often be more dangerous than the calories themselves. Even when you think you’re being a little healthier by ordering non-fat options, you’re still tricking yourself. A grande non-fat hot chocolate may not be as fatty, but it still has 240 calories and 41 grams of sugar. Each little shot of syrup, powder, or other addition can run you between 30-50 additional calories. That makes it really easy to indulge without realizing the consequences that come from a daily, or even weekly, treat. Of course, there are ways to be on a diet and still enjoy your daily Starbucks fix. But it requires some sacrifice. That’s where the “secret menu” comes in and its various hacks to make your drinks healthy, and we’ll tell you all about that next.
7. The Infamous Secret Menu
Ever since Starbucks became a phenomenon for caffeine lovers, there have been rumors about the secret menu. Many employees have denied that there is a secret list somewhere of drinks you can order, while others insist it exists. According to some Starbucks employees on Reddit, this secret menu is really just customization suggestions by people on the Internet, but not every barista necessarily knows how to make these mysterious drinks off-hand since the secret menu isn’t really real. These drinks are suggested by others who have tried their own combinations and then given them their own names. So, if you come in and want some kind of crazy “secret” drink, you better know what the ingredients are, and don’t ask for it by name because the Starbucks crew will have no idea what you’re talking about. In fact, if you even bring up the secret menu to baristas, rumor has it you’ll be making their blood boil. They’re sick of hearing about it. Just ask for the drink based on what you want in it and all will be fine. Whether or not this secret menu is real, there are plenty of hacks you can do to get the most out of your experience. For example, there are many ways that you can make your order a little healthier if you’re worried about those secret calories and sugar we just told you about. Try some of these healthy secret menu items if you’re really worried about your waistline and all of those hidden calories we just warned you about.
6. There is Also a Secret Drink Size
Speaking of all these secrets, here’s another thing Starbucks is keeping from you: the secret size. That would be a Trenta, which is the next size up from Venti. Essentially, it’s an extra large cup meant for people who really, really need that extra caffeine. The Trenta is a 31-ounce cup, but it’s only used for iced tea, iced coffee, and the refreshers. You can’t get the blended drinks in that size. Especially not Frappuccinos – can you imagine how much sugar would be in that drink? That would be ridiculous. This is like a Big Gulp but for coffee. Here’s a fun fact. You can actually fit a regular bottle of wine in the Trenta cup. So just in case you wanted to find another use for the cup when you’re done with it, you can indulge in adult beverages. Also, it’s not really much of a secret, but there’s also a short size. It’s one below the tall size and is about eight ounces. It’s only served for hot drinks, though. The short size was actually one of the original Starbucks sizes before they upgraded to the standard tall, grande, and venti they have now. These are actually just the kids’ sizes, but adults can get them if they ask. For the record, if you do order a kid’s drink, they are actually warmed to a lower temperature than normal (130 degrees) so that it’s safer for the kiddos. If you’re a fan of less hot drinks yourself, ask for your drink to be made at the kid’s temperature. Supposedly, the short size actually works better for some drinks, like the cappuccino, because the size of the cup is better for the steamed milk-to-espresso ratio.
5. Even The Aprons Have Secrets
Have you ever noticed that sometimes the baristas and people working at Starbucks have different colored aprons? Well, each of those aprons means something. The green apron is the standard apron that the employees wear. It’s the signature apron color for any worker, kind of like starting out with your white belt in karate. Now, those basic green aprons can get upgraded with different patches. For example, employees who have served in the military can get a green apron with a special patch embroidered on it. People who wear black aprons have actually been certified as coffee masters by the Starbucks education program. These people are coffee pros. They know everything there is to know about coffee and could likely talk to you about it for hours on end. There’s also a red apron that is sometimes worn around the holidays to celebrate the season. They might start showing up around the time the signature holiday cups do, but with much less controversy than the yearly cup designs. Additionally, in other countries, there are different colored aprons to celebrate certain holidays. For example, in the Netherlands, Starbucks employees wear orange aprons to celebrate their national holiday Kings Day. You may have also seen a rare purple Starbucks apron. Now, this is a special one. The purple apron is reserved for someone who wins the EMEA Barista Championships. This is a worldwide Starbucks competition where baristas can enter to see who can make the best new creations, the most attractive latte art, and the most delicious coffee pairings. The winner gets a trip to the Starbucks headquarters and flagship location in Seattle. So, when you see this apron at your local Starbucks, know that this is a very special individual who is dedicated to making perfect coffee drinks.
4. The Name Comes From Moby Dick
The name Starbucks actually comes from the character Starbuck in the classic Herman Melville novel Moby Dick. Apparently, the chain was originally going to be named after the whaling ship, Pequod, but the ship’s first mate’s name seemed to be the better option. Starbucks was originally founded in 1971 by three guys: Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl, and Gordon Bowker. All of them were clearly interested in classic literature because one was an English teacher, one taught history, and one was a writer. It was apparently Bowker who came up with Starbucks. Legend has it that Bowker was looking at a map of Washington when he came across a town called Starbo. The name Starbo reminded him of Starbuck, the Moby Dick character. Even though Starbuck never actually drinks or even mentions coffee in Moby Dick, and the name has nothing to do with coffee itself, the three founders approved the name, but added the “s” to the end. The original store was actually called Starbucks Coffee, Tea, and Spices, and was originally just a retail store that sold coffee beans and equipment to brew coffee at home. Baldwin, Siegl, and Bowker were associated with California coffee bean company Peet’s and sold the Starbucks company to Howard Shultz in 1984 to focus on the Peet’s brand. From there, Shultz converted the whole operation into a coffee bar instead of just a retail shop and introduced espresso, thus making the jump into the massive conglomerate we know and love today. According to Schultz, the signature logo was also inspired by the whole nautical theme. In case you didn’t notice, the logo is actually a mermaid with two tails. The two-tailed mermaid was the brainchild of a designer named Terry Heckler, who got the idea from reading through books about 16th-century marine mythology. Starbucks’ logo depicts a mythical siren, who according to legend used to lure sailors and cause shipwrecks. Often, these shipwrecks and sailors ended up abandoned on Starbuck Island in the Pacific Ocean.
3. There is One Country in the World Where Starbucks Has Failed
While it seems as though Starbucks has a worldwide dominance, with stores in at least 72 different countries, there is actually one country where Starbucks was unable to catch on: Israel. There were six Starbucks locations there that are no longer open. In 2001, the world’s most famous coffee company opened six stores in Tel Aviv. The decision was made after Schultz visited Jerusalem in 1998. Schultz is Jewish and was visiting the holy land for the first time. During this trip, he was asked by the Prime Minister of Israel to consider opening a shop there to help boost the local economy. When he went back to his hotel to think about it over a cup of coffee, he determined that this cup of coffee was not up to his standards. He then took it upon himself to try to help improve the coffee situation there. The six Israeli Starbucks locations were open for about two years before the owners decided to pack it in and move on out. At the time, the company cited operational challenges as the reason they were shutting down shop. But according to the Times of Israel, it may just be because Starbucks didn’t fit the Israeli cultural vibe or taste. Some sources have also stated that Schultz charged in without doing what he usually does, which is building up local partnerships and getting an inside perspective on the local market. Either way, the decision proved to be ineffective for him. But it may not even be Starbucks’ fault. It seems as though it’s a trend with fast food in Israel – Dunkin’ Donuts, Wendys, KFC, Hard Rock Cafe, and Pizza Hut have all opened locations and failed in the country as well.
2. Starbucks the Company is More Than Just Starbucks the Brand
The company owns a variety of other companies. So even if you don’t directly go to a Starbucks for your cup of coffee, you could still be getting their products. These other brands include Seattle’s Best Coffee, Teavana, Torrefazione Italia Coffee, and Evolution Fresh. You probably recognize Seattle’s Best Coffee. While there are no more actual coffee shops dedicated to the brand, it focuses on the brewing and packaging of coffee and coffee products throughout the nation. It’s served in a variety of other fast food and entertainment locations, such as Burger King, AMC Theaters, and Subway, to name a few. According to Investopedia, Seattle’s Best Coffee is actually the second largest coffee wholesaler in the United States, and that’s second to… you guessed it. Starbucks itself. So, that means that Starbucks has a massive hold on the coffee roasting and wholesale market in the entire country. Torrefazione Italia Coffee is also a part of the Seattle’s Best brand purchase. It’s also likely that you recognize Teavana, as it’s sold in Starbucks stores and used to create some of the tea drinks. There used to be Teavana locations, but Starbucks decided to close those down and sell the branded loose-leaf tea on its own. You can still buy it online or in stores. Evolution Fresh is the brand of smoothies, yogurts, and juices that are sold in Starbucks in the cold to-go section. Starbucks also used to own the tea brand Tazo but sold it to Unilever in 2017 for a cool $384 million.
1. THEY FACED A CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT BY LATTE LOVERS
In what is being unofficially dubbed as the Underfilled Latte Lawsuit, Starbucks was the subject of a class action lawsuit filed by some extremely unimpressed latte customers in the United States. The customers accused the coffee chain of underfilling their latte and mocha drinks in order to reduce milk costs while still making the full profit. In the lawsuit, these customers claimed that the baristas were using unreasonably low fill-to lines as guidelines for pouring the drinks, as well as leaving too much space at the top of the cup. Another claim stated that the milk foam for the drinks that use it shouldn’t be counted toward the total volume of the drink or in the cost. They were essentially filing for fraud and false advertising. January 2018, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers dismissed the case due to lack of evidence that Starbucks was doing this. The claimants’ evidence had included the same person going to different Starbucks locations and testing to see if they got the full 16 ounces in the grande size or not after the foam settled. For the milk foam situation specifically, she stated that anyone who enjoys these frothy beverages should understand that milk foam does take up space. There were also a few similar lawsuits in previous years by disgruntled customers accusing Starbucks of leaving too much space in the iced coffee drinks. The judges in those cases dismissed the claims on the grounds that people would generally understand that ice does count as an ingredient. Especially when it’s in the name of the drink.