Rahim Mitha

The Story of Coffee

Rahim Mitha
The Story of Coffee

That first sip of hot, rich coffee on a rainy, grey morning. That is happiness. The simplest pleasure of life often provide moments of pure and unparalleled bliss.

Coffee a commodity and topic of discussion so common today was once a rarity in North America, enjoyed like fine wine by a small group of coffee connoisseurs. It’s hard to imagine coffee, a drink so beloved to so many was once a drink that was consumed at gas stations out of styrofoam cups. An energy boost on a long drive or quick pick me up for truck drivers. The taste and coffee drinking experience were of no concern, just add enough sugar until the black liquid went down smoothly.

But, all of that changed in 1982. It changed when a man by the name of Howard Schultz travelled to Italy on a business trip. Howard was the director of retail operations for Starbucks, which at the time only sold coffee beans, not the drink. On his trip to Italy he fell in love with the coffee bars and romance of the coffee drinking experience. He noticed that these coffee bars created a sense of community and were a common gathering place for connection. Inspired by what he saw, he returned to Seattle with a vision to bring to Americans something they did not know they needed.

This excitement and vision for Starbucks filled Howard, but he was met with resistance by the Co-founders, Jerry Baldwin and Zev Siegel, who wished to remain small and sell just beans. A dream so vividly clear forced Schultz to walk away from Starbucks and pioneer the spirit of coffee he had seen in Italy all on his own. So, he opened up a little coffee shop by the name of Il Giornale, named after a local Italian newspaper. At his small coffee bar, his belief in coffee winning over the hearts of Americans was confirmed, people were loving it!  

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Two years later, Starbucks was put up for sale by the founders. Howard sensed an opportunity to acquire the business and pioneer his original vision for the brand. He collected the necessary financing from investors across Seattle and purchased the company.

If it were not for the passion and vision of Howard Schultz, coffee may still be a beverage we purchased for 50 cents and guzzled down simply for a quick energy jolt.

 Today, Starbucks is more than just a required pit stop on the way to work for a dose of pleasure and delight. It represents a place of connection, a home away from home that we can count on to welcome us with open arms.

 Thank you for Howard for relentlessly pursuing your vision and making my rainy morning all the more enjoyable with a cup of freshly brewed Starbucks Pike Place Roast.