Starbucks is the global king of coffee. With around 24,000 locations around the world, it is by far the most popular coffee franchise in the world. Founded in Seattle, Washington in 1971, Starbucks expanded rapidly in the 1990s and 2000s, opening an average of two locations daily between 1987 and 2007. With a winning combination of consistent products, strong branding and good business practices, Starbucks went from being a small local coffee shop to a global giant.
A recent study commissioned by Couponbox showed that Starbucks prices can vary significantly in different locations around the world, from an average of $2.68 for a drink in Warsaw, Poland, to a whopping $5.92 in Bern, Switzerland. Despite this difference in pricing, one of the key components of Starbucks’ success is the consistency of the products. Their coffee is not just a one-off purchase, but rather an essential part of their customers’ daily routine. This is achieved partly thanks to the superior quality of their coffee beans (Starbucks uses dark-roasted Arabica beans grown at high altitude to get the distinctive flavor which stands out from other brands).
To make sure that their clients get a quality coffee on every visit, Starbucks’ baristas (known as ‘partners’) must go through a 30-hour training course with modules on customer service, espresso bar basics and more. Partners in training are then tested to see if they can pour the perfect cappuccino, which is evaluated using an electronic scale. Partners are reportedly able to serve 87,000 different combinations of drinks off the top of their heads, and must be well versed in ‘Starbucks shorthand’.
But their hard work pays off as Starbucks employees are given generous benefits. After employees at US franchises have worked more than 240 hours over 3 months, they are able to join Starbucks’ college enrollment program in which the company pays for students’ undergraduate degree courses. Employees are able to choose from over 40 different online courses provided by Arizona State University, with the company partially reimbursing fees for first- and second-year students and fully reimbursing fees for third- and fourth-year students.
The company also provides employees with an enrollment coach, a financial aid counselor, and an academic supervisor whilst they are working and studying with no obligation to stay on with the company once they have graduated. As well as the tuition plan, partners are given free stocks in the company which has been rising steadily since the program was started 1991. And of course it goes without saying that partners are entitled to a free pound of coffee per week.
The reliability of Starbucks’ dark roast, high-quality beverages prepared by well-trained staff has made the Starbucks experience more of a habit than a one-off treat. On the other hand, solid business practices mean that staff turnover is low. This winning combination has made Starbucks a household name capable of delivering quality products with every serving.