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30 Things You Never Knew About Starbucks

There's a reason the chain has more than 30,000 locations worldwide.

Perhaps the most well-known coffee brand in the world, Starbucks has certainly made a name for itself. Started as a narrow storefront in Seattle's Pike Place Market, the chain now has more than 30,000 locations worldwide. And while much is known about the supposed secret menu and the chain's notoriously high-calorie provisions, here are 30 Starbucks facts you probably didn't know.

You're getting more caffeine than you think.

Names on Starbucks cups

With 330 milligrams of caffeine, a grande coffee from Starbucks has about the same amount of caffeine as three cans of Red Bull. By comparison, a standard 16-ounce cup of brewed coffee contains around 190 milligrams. According to a report by Chemical & Engineering News, the daily safe dose of caffeine is only a little bit more than that grande coffee: 400 milligrams.

Starbucks wasn't founded by coffee connoisseurs.

Starbucks employees serving customers behind the counter
Asael Peña/Unsplash

According to Thrillist, the coffee mecca began in the 1970s with Gordon Bowker, a writer; Zev Siegl, a history teacher; and Jerry Baldwin, an English teacher. CEO Howard Schulz didn't step in until the 1980s, and he was the one who introduced drinks to the chain. Before, they only sold coffee beans.

There are two drink sizes that aren't on the menu.

Starbucks short disposable cup on a table
Charles Koh/Unsplash

Only need a little morning pick-me-up? Order a "short" drink. These cups, which are eight ounces, are what baristas use for kids' drinks like hot chocolate. You could also get a "trenta," which comes in at 31 ounces, but you can only get it for iced drinks.

Seattle's Best coffee is owned by Starbucks.

Seattle's Best Coffee outside the location

Seattle's Best is a subsidiary of Starbucks targeted towards penny-pinched consumers. It was acquired in 2003, and according to Investopedia, in 2017, it was the second-largest wholesaler and coffee roaster in the country. Starbucks also owns Teavana, Tazo, Ethos water, and Evolution Fresh, all of which you've probably seen in the checkout line.

Whipped cream and caramel drizzles can go on any drink for free.

starbucks frappuccino on table with green straw

According to former Pennsylvania Starbucks barista Marissa Martini, you can order whipped cream or caramel drizzle on anything, not just Frappuccinos or specialty lattes, like most people think. And there's no extra charge.

There are customized mugs for every city.

Starbucks Beijing city cup in a coffee shop

When traveling to other cities, what better memento to remember your trip than a hearty mug from Starbucks? The chain has a line of "You Are Here" mugs that you can find at all major cities, says Martini. For the best luck, check the Starbucks shops in museums, tourist attractions, and rest stops.

The name "Starbucks" has a strange ideation.

Man holding Starbucks cup outside
Erik Mclean/Unsplash

In an interview with the Seattle Times, co-founder Gordon Bowker dismissed the legend that the name "Starbucks" came from Moby Dick. A friend of Bowker's mentioned that words that start with "st" are "powerful words," so he began to brainstorm.

"Somebody somehow came up with an old mining map of the Cascades and Mount Rainier, and there was an old mining town called Starbo," he said in the interview. "As soon as I saw Starbo, I, of course, jumped to Melville's first mate [named Starbuck] in Moby-Dick. But Moby-Dick didn't have anything to do with Starbucks directly; it was only coincidental that the sound seemed to make sense."

There's a special Starbucks for members of the CIA.

Outside starbucks with green umbrellas

There's a Starbucks on the CIA campus, and it's just as secretive as you'd imagine. Baristas are given more training, and there are more intense background checks. Plus, there are no names allowed, not even obviously fake ones. So if you ever get tired of getting your name misspelled or mispronounced at Starbucks, maybe just join the CIA?

If you buy Starbucks beans, baristas will grind them for you.

Starbucks bag of coffee beans

Stuck without a coffee grinder after you bought your Starbucks beans? No problem. Martini says baristas will happily grind it for you for no charge. But don't try and bring beans from another roastery—that's treason.

Baristas get a free pound of coffee every week.

Starbucks coffee beans at reserve in Seattle
Andrew Spencer/Unsplash

Starbucks is known for its employee benefits. But none, perhaps, is as great of a benefit than coffee. Baristas are given a free pound of Starbucks coffee each week, according to Martini. A pound usually retails for around $15, so it's a pretty sweet deal.

Different colored aprons mean something.

Starbucks black coffee master apron

If you see a barista wearing a black apron making your drink, be excited. The dark color isn't just to hide inevitable stains; it's actually provided to baristas who are named "coffee masters" after completing coursework from a Starbucks education program.

The chain banned scents in every store.

Starbucks barista working behind the counter
Dmitriy Nushtaev / Unsplash

Yes, you read that right. According to the Starbucks dress code, "Perfume, cologne, shaving lotion or highly fragrant deodorants or powders may not be worn because the smell affects the taste and aroma of our coffee." The chain also banned smoking in the 1980s—years before that became the norm.

You can get a tall drink in a venti cup for no extra charge.

Starbucks drink in a venti cup not filled all the way

According to Martini, you can order a smaller sized iced drink in a larger cup to avoid getting ripped off, as ice takes up a pretty significant volume of the cup. Most baristas won't charge you extra for it, either.

Loyal customers go to Starbucks 16 times per month.

Starbucks iced coffee cup on a beach
Nadine Shaabana/Unsplash

Most people will get coffee from Starbucks as a weekly pick-me-up or a special treat, but the most loyal coffee drinkers (which amount to approximately 20 percent of their sales) visit the chain 16 times per month. That's every other day!

You can order discontinued drinks.

Starbucks triple mocha ultra caramel and serious strawberry frappuccinos
Courtesy of Starbucks

If your favorite drink is no longer on the menu or you're craving a seasonal drink before (or after) its time, you can still order them. Martini said that baristas will make you a discontinued drink unless they don't have the ingredients. For example, you can order a sea salt mocha all year round, but they may not have the salt.

You can get a pour-over coffee at every location.

Starbucks pour over Reserve coffee at location

Coffee enthusiasts know: Pour-over is superior to standard drip coffee. But did you know you could get it at Starbucks, and not just the hipster coffee shop down the street? Martini says each store offers it, but it's not advertised on the menu. Remember, it takes longer to make, so don't order it if you're in a rush.

You can thank a Stanford basketball player for your Pumpkin Spice Latte.

starbucks cup

Stanford athlete and economist Peter Dukes joined Starbucks in 2001. He was tasked with creating a branded espresso drink for autumn, and he pitched a pumpkin pie-spiced latte. He was met with pushback, but now, the Pumpkin Spice Latte is now a major part of the American zeitgeist.

The easy way to make healthier comfort foods.

Starbucks owns a record label.

Starbucks condiment counter

Would you believe it if we told you Paul McCartney left his long-time record label for one owned by…Starbucks? The coffee chain partnered with Concord Music Group to form Hear Music in 2007. McCartney, Joni Mitchell, and James Taylor are just a few of the stars whose music is produced by Hear.

The chain has a "10 minute" rule.

Starbucks straws

Every Starbucks location is required to serve customers 10 minutes before the designated opening time and 10 minutes after the designated closing time, according to Woman's Day. But, for the sake of the exhausted baristas, just get your coffee during normal hours.

Canned whipped cream is a no-no.

woman's hand holding cherry blossom frappuccino in plastic cup in front of cherry blossom tree
Courtesy of Starbucks

Starbucks makes its own whipped cream, even for the fancy drinks that come with specialty whips, according to Martini. So if you see a can of store-bought whipped cream behind the counter, let Howard Schultz know.

Each cafe is designed with solo people in mind.

Sugar free coffee

Martini mentioned that Starbucks designs its stores a certain way so that people can feel like they have their own private space while still being in a cafe setting. In addition, the round tables were chosen so that folks don't feel or appear lonely.

Their blonde roast has more caffeine than the darker varieties.

Starbucks coffee and pastry

Martini says that most customers order blonde roast thinking that it has less caffeine. In reality, a tall Blonde Roast has 270 milligrams of the buzzy stuff, whereas a tall Featured Dark Roast only has 195 milligrams.

For 20 years, the company opened two stores every day on average.


From 1987 to 2007, the amount of new Starbucks locations cropping up increased so rapidly that over the span of those two decades, the company opened two stores every day on average. And that's what happens when you drink too much caffeine, kids.

The original logo was rated "R."

Large Starbucks logo on a wall
Khadeeja Yasser/Unsplash

The Starbucks logo is of a siren, which is a mythological mermaid seductress. With that knowledge, it makes sense that the siren in the original logo had visible breasts. They were later covered up by long hair in 1987, giving us the logo we know and love.

You can get reusable straws at the stores.

Starbucks reusable cups and straws in a basket

If you're worried about your carbon footprint but still want to feed your Starbucks addiction, the cafes offer packs of reusable straws for purchase, according to Martini. You can do one better by bringing your own reusable cup for baristas to fill with your drink of choice.

The unique size lingo doesn't actually mean anything.

Starbucks baristas working
Vaishnav Chogale/Unsplash

Tall, grande, venti, trenta? It's all nonsense. Apparently, the names were just made up in a conference room and there's no real reason why a small is called a "tall" and a large is a "venti."

You can make any Frappuccino cream-based.

Starbucks matcha blended drink outside of store location

If you're not interested in coffee and there's no Shake Shack around, Martini says you can ask for any of the Frappuccino flavors to be cream-based instead of espresso-based for a treat akin to a milkshake. Contrary to popular belief, the Vanilla Bean Frappuccino is not the only coffee-free option.

Starbucks was the first brand to reach 10 million likes on Facebook.

Starbucks customer holding an iced coffee in the summer time
Omar Lopez/Unsplash

Facebook has a soft spot for Starbucks, as the brand was the first to reach 10 million likes on their page back in 2010. If you check the page today, the number of likes has skyrocketed to more than 36 million.

There are almost 250 Starbucks locations in Manhattan alone.

Starbucks store

241, to be exact. There's a reason almost every New Yorker and tourist has heard the phrase, "There's a Starbucks on every corner" because frankly, it feels like there is. It makes sense to have an endless coffee supply in the city that never sleeps.

The company has more than 1,600 LEED-certified cafes in 20 countries.

Starbucks Coffee

In recent years, the company has made major strides toward a more environmentally-friendly future. More than 1,600 of their locations are LEED-certified, its a Starbucks fact the company is proud of, and a major win for sustainability.

Now that you know these Starbucks facts, you might just appreciate your next coffee run that much more.

Sarah Madaus
Sarah is a health and wellness journalist based in New York City. Read more about Sarah