According to one financial report, the average American spends about $1,100 a year on coffee

A good number of those people are getting that coffee at Starbucks, the 100-pound gorilla in the mocha market. If you spend bucks at the 'Bucks, here are a few things you might find intriguing about the coffee conglomerate:

1. The Pumpkin Spice Latte was invented by a Stanford athlete

While the famed PSL is now known for being primarily for basic ladies, it was originally conceived of by a male basketball player with a BA in Economics and an MBA from Stanford.

Peter Dukes first came to Starbucks in 2001, and in 2003 he was asked to create a new branded espresso drink for the fall. Convinced a pumpkin pie-inspired latte was an inspired option, he persevered through push-back to institute the drink ... and the rest is history.

To commemorate his part in the momentous success of the gourd-geous drink, Dukes was included in a mural near the Starbucks HQ. He's right alongside a pumpkin spice latte cup with a halo, and a massive pumpkin.

2. The name Starbucks comes from Moby Dick

It turns out the 585-page tome by Melville is more than just that-book-you-were-supposed-to-read-in-high-school. It was also the inspiration for your favorite cup of joe.

The character Starbuck, Captain Ahab's first mate on the whaling ship in Moby Dick, became the namesake for the iconic Seattle-based brand. The runner up name? Pequod -- the name of the actual ship.

Just one question here: If Starbuck was a person, doesn't this mean it should be Starbuck's and not Starbucks?

3. The size names are completely made up

Ever feel ridiculous ordering a "venti" latte? You're not the only one. As it turns out, the cup sizes "tall," "grande," and "venti" were first rolled out in Howard Schultz's solo cafe, Il Giornale, during one of his periods away from Starbucks.

When Schultz returned to the company, he brought his cup-size lingo with him. His partner at Il Giornale, Dawn Pinaud, is open about the fact that they just made the words up at a meeting.

4. NPR once played a Starbucks-related prank

You don't really think of NPR as a bastion of hilarity, but in 1996, the hosts of All Things Considered played a pretty funny prank on their listeners. They said Starbucks was building a "coffee pipeline" that would span the country, thousands of miles long, to bring java everywhere it needed to go.

The date of this broadcast was April 1st. Most people got the joke, but there were still those who bewildered baristas by asking about pipeline progress.

5. The original mermaid was far more risqué

While today's Starbucks siren is technically topless, the first version made that fact, well, more obvious. In 1987, the design morphed into one in which her chest was covered with flowing hair. The current version was created in 1992.

6. Some Starbucks locations are undercover

Seattle has a few "Stealth Starbucks" locations, where there are no Starbucks logos, uniforms, or vocabulary. Intended to give corporate a testing ground for new concepts, they were instituted after a few particularly difficult years for the company. The stores accept Starbucks rewards cards but include menu items to throw customers off (such as "meat trays"). 

7. Even spooks get frappuccinos

Speaking of secrets and lies, the CIA campus at Langley has its own Starbucks. A few things that make the location stand out:

  • Baristas are subject to very serious background checks and must be escorted by agency "minders" if they ever leave their work area

  • No names are allowed to be written on cups (this is true), so the spies never get to enjoy the creative misspellings that so often accompany your tall decaf skim vanilla latte

  • The store doesn't accept any frequent-customer reward cards, for fear the data stored on them could fall into the wrong hands.

The CIA Starbucks, also known as Store Number 1, is known for being the busiest location in the country. "Obviously," one officer said, "we are caffeine-addicted personality types. "

8. It was founded by two high school teachers and a writer

If you've ever doubted whether creative types can make good entrepreneurs, look no further. The original founders of Starbucks were Zev Siegl, a history teacher; Jerry Baldwin, an English teacher; and Gordon Bowker, a writer. Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz only came on later.

The three original founders had a single intention: to "bring the best coffee to Seattle." They opened their first store in Pike Place Market in 1971, and until Schultz came on, Starbucks only sold beans. Creating actual brewed espresso drinks for people was a relatively new concept, and one that turns out to be pretty popular.

Last year, Starbucks grossed $22 billion. 


"A silent yawn is a scream for coffee." - T. Haque