I’m a Starbucks insider – the chain got its name from an unusual source & it was almost called something VERY different | The Sun

I’m a Starbucks insider – the chain got its name from an unusual source & it was almost called something VERY different | The Sun

June 9, 2022

NEXT time you visit Starbucks, remember that multiple different names were considered for the coffee chain – and in an alternate universe, you're drinking a "Cargo House" vanilla bean frappe.

That's just one of the names almost used by executives, who borrowed the name Starbucks from an unusual but much-beloved source.

When the company was in its early days, there were several potential names on the list, said co-founder Gordon Bowker in an interview with the Seattle Times.

The founders debated giving the business a coffee-centric name but also veered into literary territory.

"We were thinking of all kinds of names and came desperately close to calling it Cargo House," Bowker told the outlet.

He also said that it was a good thing the company passed on the name, which "would have been a terrible, terrible mistake."


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While trying to think of "power words" that started with a hard st- sound, someone brought out an old mining map in a meeting.

A small town in the Cascades called Starbo caught Bowker's eye.

He said he "immediately" associated the town with Starbuck, which is the name of the level-headed first mate in Herman Melville's masterpiece Moby-Dick.

Obviously, it was that moniker that stuck with the brand, but Bowker detailed another word from the book that was almost used instead.

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The founders debated using the name of the whaling ship, Pequod, instead of the name of the first mate.

Someone recalled that Starbuck loved coffee in the book Moby-Dick, but they were corrected.

"Then somebody said to me, well no, it wasn’t that he loved coffee in the book, it was that he loved coffee in the movie," Bowker recalled.

"Moby-Dick has nothing to do with coffee as far as I know," Bowker confessed. "It was only coincidental that the sound seemed to make sense."

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Of course, the company's siren logo further demonstrates its close ties to the sea.

While you might not think of Starbucks as a particularly nautical company, armed with this new knowledge, you can effortlessly justify an iced coffee as a beach or poolside beverage all summer long.

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