Careers at Starbucks


Starbucks’ mission is to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.

Business segments

Starbucks is a roaster, marketer, and retailer of specialty coffee. The company operates four reportable business segments:

  • Americas, which consists of the U.S., Canada, and Latin America; it accounts for 69% of total sales
  • China/Asia Pacific (CAP), which accounts for 13% of total sales
  • Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), which accounts for 6% of total sales
  • Channel Development, which includes roasted whole bean and ground coffees, premium Tazo teas, Starbucks- and Tazo-branded single-serve products, a variety of ready-to-drink beverages (e.g., Frappuccino, Starbucks Doubleshot, and Starbucks Refreshers beverages), and other branded products sold worldwide; it accounts for 9% of total sales


In the late 1960s, Seattle, WA resident Gordon Bowker was so unimpressed by the quality of coffee in his city that he made trips to Vancouver, British Columbia to buy beans. When he lost his job as a journalist at Seattle magazine, he decided to start his own coffee shop. He joined with two old college buddies and entrepreneurs, Jerry Baldwin and Zev Siegl, to build the store by hand in 1971.

The three wanted a name that started with “St”, which they felt sounded punchy. They settled on Starbucks, which is also the name of a first mate in “Moby Dick” who loves coffee. Siegl visited Berkeley, CA to learn more about the beverage from Alfred Peet, owner of Peet’s Coffee. Peet’s approach – high-grade Arabica beans roasted to a dark extreme – influenced Starbucks’ direction.

Starbucks bought Pete’s coffee for its first nine months, giving free samples to its customers. Demand grew, and by 1972 it launched its second store. A decade later it had five stores, a toasting facility, and a wholesale operation that sold largely to restaurants. The company believed coffee’s shelf life did not last long after roasting, and so donated all coffee to charity after eight days.

In 1982 the chain hired Howard Schultz to manage its retail sales. However, he traveled to Italy and grew obsessed with the coffee culture there -- and returned wanting the retailer to open coffee bars. His bosses disagreed, so he left to launch his own chain in 1986, Il Giornale. At this time, while the specialty coffee market was growing, Starbucks was hurting due to its refusal to sell flavored coffees.

In 1987 Schulz, with his business thriving, made a deal to buy Starbucks’ six stores for $4 million. It merged with Il Giornale and kept the Starbucks name. It then prepared to go national, starting by launching stores in Chicago. The company’s reputation for quality grew through word of mouth, leading to popularity. It went public in 1992, and achieved significant expansion afterwards.

Benefits at Starbucks

Business model of Starbucks

Customer Segments

Starbucks has a mass market business model, with no significant differentiation between customer segments. The company targets its offerings at anyone who wants to drink specialty coffee.

Value Proposition

Starbucks offers four primary value propositions: innovation, accessibility, convenience, and brand/status.

The company embraced innovation from the very beginning, using only high-grade beans roasted to a dark extreme by a trained roaster. This helped to popularize darkly roasted coffee.

The company creates accessibility by making its offerings easily available. It has a large number of stores in numerous locations – 24,395. This is because it expanded significantly in the 1990s and 2000s, opening an average of two new locations per day. Between September 2014 and September 2015 alone, it grew from 10,713 to 12,235 stores. The company also increases access by providing a wide variety of options. Its selection includes over 30 blends of coffee, as well as tea, smoothies, and fresh foods such as sandwiches, pastries, salads, yogurt parfaits, and fruit cups.

The company offers convenience by making life easier for customers. Customers can order products on their phones using the Starbucks app, then avoid lines at a store by going to a “pickup” area.

The company has established a powerful brand as a result of its success. It maintains over 24,395 locations in 74 countries. Its name has become synonymous with premium coffee. Lastly, it has won many honors, including recognition as one of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies“ by the Ethisphere Institute for 10 years in a row (2007 – 2016), as of the “Most Admired Companies in America” by Fortune for 13 years in a row (2003–2015), as “Retailer of the Year” by Visual Merchandising and Store Design (2013), and as one of the “World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies”
by Fast Company (2012).


Starbucks’ main channel is its network of company-operated stores. It also sells its products through licensed stores, grocery stores, warehouse clubs, specialty retailers, convenience stores, U.S. foodservice accounts, and its website.

The company promotes its offering through its social media pages, advertising, its “Starbucks Rewards” loyalty program, and participation in conferences.

Customer Relationships

Starbucks’ customer relationship is primarily of a personal assistance nature. Company employees make and serve coffee and other products for customers, and answer any questions they may have.

Key Activities

Starbucks’ business model entails designing and developing its products and serving them to customers.

Key Partners

Starbucks’s main partners are the suppliers it relies on worldwide to provide its coffee – namely coffee producers, outside trading companies, and exporters.

It depends on specialty suppliers to provide non-coffee products, typically under long-term contracts. It utilizes national, regional and local sources for food products.

Key Resources

Starbucks’ main resources are its human resources, particularly the product innovation staff that design and develop its offerings and the store associates (called “Partners”) who serve the items.

An important physical resource is its network of seven farmer support centers it maintains to ensure a supply of high-quality green coffee; they are staffed with agronomists and sustainability experts.

Cost Structure

Starbucks has a value-driven structure, aiming to provide a premium proposition through significant personal service and frequent product enhancements.

Its biggest cost driver is cost of sales, a variable expense that includes occupancy costs. Other major drivers are in the areas of store operation and administration, both fixed expenses.

Revenue Streams

Starbucks has one revenue stream: the revenues it generates through sales of its products, which include fresh beverages and foods and packaged coffee and teas.

Our team

Howard Schultz,
Chairman and CEO

info: Howard earned a B.S. from Northern Michigan University. He previously served as President and Director of Operations and Marketing at Starbucks, as Vice President and General Manager of Hammarplast USA, and as Co-Founder of Maveron LLC.

Kevin Johnson,
President and Chief Operating Officer

info: Kevin earned a Bachelor’s degree at New Mexico State University. He previously served as CEO of Juniper Networks, as President of the Platforms and Services Division at Microsoft Corporation, and as a Systems Engineer at IBM.

Gerri Martin-Flickinger,
Executive VP and Chief Technology Officer

info: Gerri earned a B.A. in Computer Science at Washington State University. She previously served as Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Adobe and as CIO of VeriSign.

Scott Maw,
Executive VP and Chief Financial Officer

info: Scott earned a B.A. in Accounting at Gonzaga University. He previously served as SVP of Corporate Finance at Starbucks, as CFO of SeaBright Insurance Company, and as CFO of the Consumer Banking division of JPMorgan Chase & Co.