Starbucks is one of the most recognizable brands in the world, with over 32,000 stores across more than 70 countries. But what exactly is the business model behind this wildly popular coffee chain? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down the key aspects of Starbucks’ business to understand what type of company it is.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Starbucks is primarily a food and beverage retailer, specifically a coffeehouse chain that sells hot and cold drinks, whole bean coffee, food items, teas, and other beverages.

Coffeehouse Chain

Starbucks is a well-known coffeehouse chain that has gained global recognition. With its iconic green logo and inviting atmosphere, Starbucks has become synonymous with a great cup of coffee and a cozy place to relax.

The company was founded in 1971 in Seattle, Washington, and has since expanded to over 30,000 locations worldwide.

Retail stores

One of the main components of Starbucks’ business model is its retail stores. These physical locations provide customers with a place to enjoy their favorite coffee beverages, as well as a variety of food options.

Starbucks stores are known for their comfortable seating areas, free Wi-Fi, and friendly baristas who are trained to create the perfect cup of coffee. The company has strategically placed its stores in high-traffic areas such as shopping malls, airports, and city centers to ensure accessibility and convenience for customers.


In recent years, Starbucks has also embraced the drive-thru concept to cater to customers on the go. Drive-thru locations allow customers to order and receive their drinks without leaving the comfort of their vehicles.

This convenience factor has been a significant driver of growth for Starbucks, as it appeals to busy individuals who don’t have time to enter a store but still want their coffee fix. The drive-thru option has also allowed Starbucks to expand into suburban areas where there may not be enough foot traffic to support a traditional retail store.

Mobile ordering

Keeping up with the digital age, Starbucks has introduced mobile ordering as another way for customers to enjoy their coffee. Through the Starbucks mobile app, customers can place and pay for their orders ahead of time, allowing for a quick and seamless pickup experience.

This feature has been particularly popular among busy professionals and students who can order their coffee while on their way to work or class, ensuring that their drink is ready when they arrive at the store.

The convenience of mobile ordering has also helped to alleviate long lines and reduce wait times during peak hours.

Coffee Roaster

Starbucks is not just a coffee shop, it is also a coffee roaster. The company takes great pride in their in-house roasting process, which sets them apart from many other coffee chains. By roasting their own beans, Starbucks is able to control the quality and flavor of their coffee, ensuring that customers receive a consistent and delicious cup every time they visit.

In-house roasting

Starbucks has invested heavily in their roasting facilities, allowing them to roast their coffee beans to perfection. They have a team of expert roasters who carefully monitor the roasting process to ensure that the beans are roasted to the optimal level.

This attention to detail is what gives Starbucks coffee its distinct and flavorful taste.

Unlike some other coffee chains that outsource their roasting, Starbucks believes in maintaining control over every step of the coffee-making process. By roasting their own beans, they can experiment with different roast profiles and create unique blends that cater to the preferences of their customers.

Whole bean sales

Another aspect of Starbucks’ coffee roasting business is their whole bean sales. In addition to serving freshly brewed coffee in their stores, Starbucks also sells bags of whole beans that customers can take home and enjoy.

These beans are carefully selected and roasted by Starbucks, ensuring that customers can recreate the Starbucks experience in the comfort of their own homes.

Starbucks offers a wide variety of whole bean options, ranging from light to dark roast, and single-origin to blended beans. This allows customers to choose their preferred flavor profile and experiment with different brewing methods to achieve the perfect cup of coffee.

By offering whole bean sales, Starbucks not only provides customers with a convenient way to enjoy their coffee outside of the store, but it also creates an additional revenue stream for the company. It’s a win-win situation for both Starbucks and its loyal coffee-loving customers.

For more information on Starbucks’ coffee roasting process, you can visit their official website here.

Beverage Provider

Starbucks is a renowned global coffee company and coffeehouse chain that primarily operates as a beverage provider. They offer a wide range of hot and cold drinks to cater to the diverse preferences of their customers.

Hot drinks menu

Starbucks’ hot drinks menu is extensive, offering a variety of options to suit every coffee lover’s taste. From classic espresso-based beverages like lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiatos to specialty drinks like the popular Pumpkin Spice Latte and Peppermint Mocha, Starbucks has something for everyone.

They also offer hot teas, hot chocolates, and even hot apple cider during the fall and winter seasons.

Cold drinks menu

For those who prefer refreshing beverages, Starbucks has an array of cold drinks to choose from. Their famous iced coffees and iced teas come in different flavors and can be customized with various syrups and toppings.

Starbucks also offers popular cold brews, blended Frappuccinos, and refreshing iced refreshers. These drinks are perfect for cooling down on a hot summer day or as a pick-me-up any time of the year.

Food pairings

In addition to their wide selection of beverages, Starbucks also offers a range of food options to complement their drinks. From breakfast sandwiches and pastries to salads and sandwiches for lunch, Starbucks ensures that customers have delicious options to pair with their favorite drinks.

They also have a variety of snacks, such as cookies, brownies, and protein boxes, for those in need of a quick bite.

Starbucks constantly innovates its menu to cater to changing customer preferences and trends. They source high-quality coffee beans from around the world and strive to provide an excellent customer experience in their stores.

Their commitment to quality and variety has made Starbucks one of the most popular beverage providers globally.

Brand Powerhouse

When it comes to branding, Starbucks is undeniably a powerhouse in the business world. With its distinctive logo, iconic green aprons, and inviting store designs, Starbucks has successfully created a brand that is recognized and loved by millions of people worldwide.

But what exactly makes Starbucks such a strong brand?

Omnichannel experience

One of the key factors that contribute to Starbucks’ brand power is its ability to provide a seamless omnichannel experience to its customers. Whether you visit a physical store, order through their mobile app, or enjoy their products at home through their online store, Starbucks ensures that the experience is consistent and enjoyable.

This level of convenience and accessibility has helped Starbucks build a loyal customer base that keeps coming back for more.

Loyalty program

Starbucks’ loyalty program, known as Starbucks Rewards, is another cornerstone of their brand power. This program allows customers to earn stars for every purchase they make, which can then be redeemed for free drinks, food, and other perks.

The Starbucks Rewards program not only incentivizes customer loyalty but also provides valuable data to Starbucks, allowing them to personalize their offerings and better understand their customers’ preferences.

Global reach

With over 31,000 stores in more than 80 countries, Starbucks has a truly global reach. This extensive presence allows Starbucks to cater to diverse customer preferences and adapt to local tastes and cultures. Whether you’re in New York City or Tokyo, you can be sure to find a Starbucks store nearby.

This global presence not only reinforces Starbucks’ brand image but also contributes to its financial success.


In summary, Starbucks is primarily a global coffeehouse chain that roasts, prepares, and retails coffee-based drinks and other food items. It operates retail stores, drive-thrus, and mobile ordering while also selling whole bean coffee.

Beyond just coffee, Starbucks leverages its brand power to provide a diverse menu and omnichannel experience to customers worldwide.

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