Drive through any city or suburb in America, and you will no doubt find a plethora of options if you have a hankering for coffee. One of the most prominent and successful is the Starbucks chain, which holds a monopoly on the coffee shop scene in some areas.
If you’ve never been to a Starbucks, you might be wondering, what is Starbucks? Why do people go there? If you’ve been asking these questions, look no further! I researched everything you need to know!
What Is Starbucks?
Starbucks is a multinational chain of coffee shops with over 33,000 stores in 83 different countries as of 2023. Founded in 1971 and based in Seattle, Washington, Starbucks sells a variety of highly customizable coffee beverages, teas, pastries, sandwiches, and other snacks. The company positions its goods as premium and high-end, and the pricing reflects that.
Let’s look more closely at what Starbucks is known (and famous) for, how the company got its name and logo, why it’s so expensive to get a coffee there, and who Starbucks’ competition is!
What Is Starbucks Known For?
Starbucks is now a ubiquitous sight on any city block or suburban shopping center. That said, here are some points the company is known for, good and bad:
- High-priced drinks (prices vary based on location, but you can easily spend upwards of $8 on a single coffee beverage)
- Its many locations
- Its highly customizable menu, which popularized the concept of non-dairy milk substitutes for coffee drinks (to the general public)
- Driving out the competition, specifically smaller, independent coffee shops
What Is Starbucks Famous For?
Few coffeeshops inspire such devoted fans as Starbucks does, which can be credited for the following reasons:
The Pumpkin Spice Latte
The Pumpkin Spice Latte is a seasonal beverage, which is available starting late summer.
Yes, it’s so famous and popular it even has its own abbreviation (PSL), and when it comes back into season, people go nuts over it; some stores even sell out.
Starbucks has created a super-trendy atmosphere in its coffee shops, making it a popular place to bring your laptop and AirPods and work on that novel.
The Secret Menu
Although it’s unclear where the customizations come from, people “hack” the drink ingredients with different, sometimes wildly complicated, combinations.
Further, they create incredibly stunning and delicious beverages that aren’t listed on the menu (check out this site devoted to them).
Also called Puppy Lattes, Puppuccinos are just a little squirt of whipped cream in a tiny cup, but it is oh-so-adorable (and free).
Further, just search the hashtag #puppuccino on any social media site, and you’ll find hundreds of videos of excited pups licking away at their sweet treat from Starbucks.
Mispronouncing People’s Names
When you order a coffee at Starbucks, a barista writes your name on the cup to shout it out for you when it’s ready.
However, it has become an ongoing joke that the baristas terribly misspell, mispronounce, or otherwise mangle people’s names.
How Is Starbucks Different?
The story of how Starbucks has become a unique company is tied into how the company makes the customer feel.
For example, some people feel Starbucks is a master of branding, having fully fleshed out its ideal target audience: affluent, city-smart, tech-comfortable, always on the go.
Put differently, the ideal customers are conscious of their world and want to support companies that align with their ethical standpoints.
With that, Starbucks addresses this individual at every touchpoint, from marketing and advertising to the in-store or drive-thru experience.
Of course, that’s not who every single Starbucks customer is.
Like all the best brands, Starbucks makes you feel like a different, better version of yourself when you buy its products and interact with the company.
How Did Starbucks Get Its Name?
Starbucks might not seem like the most obvious choice for a coffee shop chain, especially as it’s the character’s name in the classic novel Moby Dick.
But, the co-founders of the company settled on it after searching for name ideas that began with “St,” a strong start in the marketing world.
So, while the character himself doesn’t relate to the company in any way, there’s no denying it’s a catchy and powerful-sounding word.
Also, if you were wondering about the infamous mermaid logo, she’s simply a tie-in with the nautical name of the company (Starbuck was a sailor).
What Type Of Store Is Starbucks?
Starbucks stores are a chain of coffee shops with an upscale feel (to match the upscale prices).
Further, most stores have a seating area in the front where you enter the shop, with the counter and coffee creation portion closer to the back.
What’s more, that set-up is handy for stores that now have drive-thrus, where customers can drive up to the menu and speaker, place their order, and then pick-up at the window.
Additionally, Starbucks has a robust mobile app from which customers can place their orders and track their points and rewards.
Also, you can choose how you want to pick up your order, either in-store or via the drive-thru.
What Drinks Can You Get At Starbucks?
Starbucks has a wide variety of beverages without being overwhelming. Further, you can divide Starbucks’ drinks into these main categories:
- Brewed Coffees
- Espresso Shots
- Flat Whites
- Clover Brewed Coffees
- Coffee Travelers
- Hot Chocolates
- Cold Brews
- Nitro Cold Brews
- Iced Americano
- Iced Coffees
- Iced Shaken Espressos
- Iced Flat Whites
- Iced Lattes
- Iced Macchiatos
- Iced Mochas
- Iced Clover Brewed Coffees
- Sparkling Water
- Chai Teas
- Black Teas
- Herbal Teas
Frappuccino Blended Beverages
- Coffee Frappuccinos
- Crème Frappuccinos
- Bottled Teas
- Iced Black Teas
- Iced Chai Teas
- Iced Green Teas
- Iced Herbal Teas
If you’re hungry, you can also pick up something to eat, including hot breakfast items, bakery items, lunch, snacks and sweets, and oatmeal and yogurt.
Finally, stores sell Starbucks merchandise, like whole bean coffee, tumblers, water bottles, and more.
Why Is Starbucks Expensive?
Starbucks is expensive both to cover its operational costs (the coffee beans are imported from all over the world) and because it suits its brand identity to be “premium-priced.”
Further, the least expensive items on the Starbucks menu are hot and cold-brewed coffees, teas, and water, which cost around $2 each.
In comparison, the most expensive items, according to Quora, are Frappuccinos, a Starbucks specialty item.
For example, a Venti (the Starbucks large) costs almost $6 on its own (or more, depending on your location), and modifications, like extra syrup shots, tack on $0.50 per pump.
Which Companies Compete With Starbucks?
While Starbucks sits very comfortably in the top spot as the world’s largest coffee shop chain, the competition is stiff for customers’ coffee money.
The most obvious competitor is Dunkin Donuts, though it doesn’t target the same market.
Still, its coffee offerings do have some overlap, and Dunkin’ is more affordably priced.
For example, a medium iced latte at Starbucks costs $4.45, while at Dunkin’, the same item is only $3.59.
The same can be said for McDonald’s, which has rolled out its specialty McCafe coffees at lower price points (only $2.99 for an iced latte).
But like Dunkin, the range of customizations at McDonald’s is nowhere near Starbucks’.
There’s also Tim Horton’s, Costa Coffee out of the UK, Peet’s Coffee, and Café Coffee Day that compete with Starbucks.
To learn more about Starbucks, you can also see our posts on why Starbucks is so successful, Starbucks competitive advantages, and Starbucks statistics & facts.
Starbucks is one of the world’s best-known brands, with dozens of customizable coffee and other beverages, as well as sandwiches, wraps, and salads.
With its steep price-point, the Starbucks brand markets itself as a higher-end product, and while Starbucks coffee might be trendy, that trend has lasted for decades.