The Truth About the Original Starbucks at Pike Place Market

Love them or hate them, there’s no denying that Starbucks is one of the biggest coffee shop success stories ever. According to Statista, by the end of 2019, there were 31, 256 stores worldwide, with 15,041 in the U.S.

It’s long been believed that the Pike Place Starbucks is the first of the coffee-chain’s shops that opened. 

Even Starbucks’ own website timeline doesn’t describe the company’s journey pre-Pike Place.

But do you know the truth about the original Starbucks at Pike Place Market?

Except there's just one thing.

It might be called the “Original Starbucks”, but Pike Place wasn’t the first store. In fact, it wasn’t even the second. Or the third.

Where Was The First Starbucks (Really)?

On March 29, 1971, three businessmen opened a coffee bean vendor station at 2000 Western Avenue in Downtown Seattle.

Zev Siegl, Jerry Baldwin, and Gordon Bowker - a history teacher, Boeing programmer, and writer respectively - were the three entrepreneurs who founded Starbucks.

The store wasn’t a coffee shop, however - it was a whole bean vendor that also offered free drip coffee samples.

The second Starbucks to open in 1972  was in the University Village shopping center, near the gourmet supermarket QFC.

The third store opened in 1973 and wasn’t even in Seattle - it opened in Edmonds, a town just to the north of Seattle.

For three years, Starbucks operated out of Western Avenue until 1974, when the owners of the Harbor Heights where the store was based decided to demolish the building.

Faced with the demolition of their flagship store, Starbucks moved a few doors down to 1912 Pike Place - the “Original Starbucks”.

The Original Starbucks Logo

While the Pike Place Starbucks uses the brand’s original logo – a naked split-tailed mermaid with the words “Starbucks – Coffee, Tea, Spices” that was deemed as too daring for when the company went corporate, which is why you won't see it at any other shops.

Starbucks logo - Courtesy of Starbucks

Did Howard Schultz Found Starbucks?

Well, sort of. While we’re laying some truth about the coffee giants, another often-touted line isn’t quite true.

As we’ve already explained, Starbucks was opened by Siegl, Baldwin, and Bowker. Mega-mogul Howard Schultz didn’t get involved in the company until 1981. At that time, Schultz was a housewares salesman in New York.

When Schultz noticed that a store in Starbucks was selling more drip coffeemakers than Macy’s, he flew to Seattle to meet the coffee company. A year later, Schultz left the Big Apple so that he could work for the small chain.

While Schultz didn’t found the company, his business acumen and knowledge was intrinsic to the success of the Starbucks Coffe Company.

So there you have it, the truth about the Original Starbucks at Pike Place Market. It’s definitely the home to of the flagship Starbucks store, but rather than the first, it’s the fourth original store.

The next time someone drops some Starbucks knowledge on you, or you just want to show the wealth of your knowledge, then let them know the truth about Pike Place Market.