If you’ve ever wondered why the ubiquitous coffee chain is named Starbucks, you’re not alone. With over 32,000 stores worldwide, Starbucks is one of the most recognizable brands in the world. But where exactly did its unique name come from?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Starbucks was named after Starbuck, the first mate character in the classic novel Moby Dick by Herman Melville. The founders were inspired by the seafaring history of coffee.

In this approximately 3000 word article, we’ll dive into the full origin story behind the Starbucks name. We’ll explore the founders’ inspiration from Moby Dick, the meaning of the twin-tailed mermaid logo, and other name candidates that were considered.

We’ll also look at how the company came to prominence and made the Starbucks moniker globally famous.

The Inspiration Behind the Starbucks Name

Starbucks, the global coffee giant, has a name that is instantly recognizable worldwide. But have you ever wondered about the story behind how Starbucks got its name? It’s a fascinating tale that involves literary inspiration, seafaring history, and the love for a good cup of coffee.

Founders Were Inspired by Moby Dick Character

The name Starbucks was not chosen randomly; it has its roots in literature. The founders of Starbucks, Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl, and Gordon Bowker, were inspired by the character Starbuck from the classic novel Moby Dick by Herman Melville.

In the novel, Starbuck is the first mate of the whaling ship Pequod, known for his strong work ethic and sense of adventure.

Starbuck Was the First Mate on the Pequod Whaling Ship

Starbuck’s character resonated with the founders of Starbucks, who saw similarities between the coffee business and the adventurous spirit of the whaling industry. Just like Starbuck and his crew on the Pequod, the founders of Starbucks were embarking on a journey to bring high-quality coffee to the masses.

The Seafaring History of Coffee

The connection between coffee and seafaring is not just limited to the name Starbucks. Coffee has a long history of being enjoyed by sailors and seafarers. In the 17th and 18th centuries, coffee became a staple on ships as it provided a much-needed boost of energy and helped sailors stay alert during long voyages.

Sailors would often bring back coffee beans from their travels, introducing new flavors and varieties to different parts of the world.

The name Starbucks, therefore, not only pays homage to a beloved literary character but also reflects the rich history of coffee and its association with seafaring adventures. It is a name that symbolizes the founders’ passion for coffee and their commitment to providing a memorable and adventurous coffee experience to their customers.

The Meaning Behind the Starbucks Logo

One of the most recognizable logos in the world, the Starbucks logo has a rich history and carries deep symbolism. Let’s take a closer look at the meaning behind the iconic Starbucks logo.

The Original Brown Starbucks Logo

When Starbucks was founded in 1971, the logo featured a circular design with a brown color scheme. The logo depicted a twin-tailed mermaid, known as a siren in Greek mythology, surrounded by the text “Starbucks Coffee, Tea, and Spice.”

The choice of the mermaid as the logo was inspired by a 16th-century Norse woodcut of a twin-tailed mermaid, which captured the imagination of the company’s founders.

The original logo reflected the company’s focus on providing high-quality coffee, tea, and spices. It also represented the company’s commitment to bringing exotic flavors from around the world to its customers.

Introduction of the Twin-Tailed Mermaid in 1987

In 1987, the Starbucks logo underwent a redesign, and the brown color scheme was replaced with a green one. The twin-tailed mermaid was given a more stylized and modern look, with cleaner lines and a more prominent presence.

This redesign was aimed at giving the logo a more contemporary and sophisticated feel, aligning with Starbucks’ goal of becoming a global brand.

The introduction of the green color reflected Starbucks’ commitment to environmental sustainability and its focus on using ethically sourced coffee beans. It also represented the company’s dedication to providing a welcoming and relaxing environment for its customers.

The Siren Represents the Seafaring History of Coffee

The siren depicted in the Starbucks logo has a significant meaning. It is a visual representation of the seafaring history of coffee, as well as the company’s connection to its Seattle roots. The siren, with her twin tails and flowing hair, is a mythical creature associated with the sea and maritime exploration.

The choice of the siren in the logo is a nod to Seattle’s history as a major port city and its close ties to the coffee trade. It also symbolizes the adventurous spirit of Starbucks in sourcing the best coffee beans from around the world.

Other Name Options That Were Considered

When Starbucks was in the process of rebranding from its original name, “Starbucks Coffee, Tea, and Spices,” to simply “Starbucks,” the company considered several other name options before settling on the iconic name we know today.

These alternative names reflected different themes and concepts, ranging from literature to maritime references.

Pequod – After Captain Ahab’s Whaling Ship

One of the name options that Starbucks considered was “Pequod,” inspired by the whaling ship in Herman Melville’s famous novel, “Moby-Dick.” The name “Pequod” symbolized adventure, exploration, and the pursuit of the extraordinary.

However, Starbucks ultimately decided against this name, as it may not have resonated with a wide audience unfamiliar with the literary reference.

Cargo House – A Nod to the History of Coffee Trading

Another name option that Starbucks contemplated was “Cargo House,” which paid homage to the historical significance of coffee trading. Coffee has a rich history of being transported around the world on ships, often stored in warehouses known as “coffee houses.”

This name would have highlighted Starbucks’ connection to the global coffee trade. However, the company ultimately chose a different direction for its brand identity.

Other Nautical-Themed Options Like Sirena and Orca

As a nod to its Seattle roots and the city’s maritime heritage, Starbucks also considered nautical-themed names like “Sirena” and “Orca.” Sirena, meaning “mermaid” in Italian, would have reflected the famous Starbucks logo depicting a twin-tailed mermaid.

Orca, on the other hand, would have paid tribute to the majestic killer whales that inhabit the waters of the Pacific Northwest. While these names would have stayed true to the brand’s origins, Starbucks ultimately decided to go with a more universal and easily recognizable name.

In the end, Starbucks chose a name that was simple, memorable, and evoked a sense of warmth and familiarity. The name “Starbucks” was inspired by the character Starbuck from Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick,” aligning with the company’s early literary theme.

It is interesting to speculate how different the coffee landscape would be today if Starbucks had chosen one of these alternative names. However, it’s clear that the name “Starbucks” has become synonymous with quality coffee and a welcoming environment for millions of people worldwide.

Starbucks’ Rise from Humble Origins to Global Prominence

Starbucks, the world-renowned coffee chain, has an intriguing story behind its name and meteoric rise to global prominence. From its humble beginnings in Seattle in 1971 to becoming a household name with stores on six continents, the journey of Starbucks is nothing short of fascinating.

First Starbucks Opened in Seattle in 1971

The first Starbucks store was opened in Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market in 1971 by three partners: Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl, and Gordon Bowker. Originally, the store focused on selling high-quality coffee beans and equipment.

However, it wasn’t until Howard Schultz joined the company in 1982 that Starbucks began to transform into the global powerhouse it is today.

Under Schultz’s leadership, Starbucks introduced the concept of the “third place,” a community gathering spot that wasn’t home or work. This idea resonated with customers, and Starbucks started to expand rapidly.

Rapid Expansion in the Late 1980s and 1990s

The late 1980s and 1990s marked a period of extraordinary growth for Starbucks. The company went public in 1992, allowing it to fund its ambitious expansion plans. New stores opened at a remarkable pace, and Starbucks became a common sight in cities across the United States.

During this period, Starbucks also made strategic acquisitions, including the purchase of Seattle’s Best Coffee and the Teavana tea brand. These acquisitions further solidified Starbucks’ position in the industry and expanded its product offerings.

Omnipresence Today with Stores on Six Continents

Today, Starbucks is a global brand with a presence on six continents. Its logo, a twin-tailed mermaid or siren, has become instantly recognizable worldwide. With thousands of stores, Starbucks has successfully brought its unique coffeehouse experience to countries and cultures around the globe.

Starbucks’ success can be attributed to its commitment to quality, customer service, and innovation. The company continually introduces new products, such as seasonal beverages and food items, to keep customers engaged and excited.

Furthermore, Starbucks has also embraced technology, allowing customers to order and pay through their mobile devices. This convenience has further enhanced the customer experience and contributed to the brand’s continued growth.

Starbucks’ journey from a single store in Seattle to a global phenomenon is a testament to its vision, adaptability, and dedication to providing an exceptional coffee experience. It has revolutionized the way people think about and consume coffee, leaving an indelible mark on the world of beverages.


Starbucks has come a long way from its first humble storefront in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Its inspired name, borrowed from the pages of literature, helped evoke images of romance and high seas adventure.

This mystique, paired with great coffee and smart marketing, propelled Starbucks to become the giant we know today.

So next time you’re waiting in line for your morning coffee, remember the story behind the Starbucks name. While ordering your venti latte or americano, reflect on how a character in a 19th century novel inspired one of the world’s most ubiquitous brands.

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