Starbucks Coffee Was Named After a Character in Which Famous Novel?

Starbucks sounds pretty undeserving of a coffee shop. Well, that’s what we (and many of you) think. With the plethora of name possibilities out there, why would anyone even go for Starbucks?

It turns out the founders of the leading coffee house were ardent fans of the classic novel, Moby Dick, by Herman Melville. Blame it on the fact this team consisted of a history teacher, an English teacher, and writer or that novels meant a lot back in 1971.

Moby Dick has several characters but for some strange reason, Starbucks stood out among the bunch. Initially, the coffee house was to be called Pequod, after Moby Dick’s whaling ship.

However, one of the partners didn’t quite feel the name hence the change to Starbucks who happened to be Pequod’s first mate.

starbucks second mate

History of Starbucks

The history of Starbucks dates back to 1971 when three Seattle men opened the first store known as Starbucks Coffee, Tea, and Spices. These intellectual guys consisted of Jerry Baldwin (an English teacher), Gordon Bowker (a writer), and Zev Siegl (a history teacher).

This phenomenal store was simply a retail outlet for premium coffee beans and equipment. One of the most notable and famous equipments sold by Starbucks back then was the signature drip coffee maker manufactured by the Swedish brand, Hammarplast.

The coffee company received their coffee beans from Berkley’s coffee retail shop, Peet’s.

The founders wound up purchasing Peet’s 13 years later and concentrated their energies there. At around the same time, they sold Starbucks to Howard Schultz who has run the coffee house since 1985.

The Tale of the Starbucks Name in Detail

Although the three founders of Starbucks have a part to play when choosing the name of their company, Bowker (the writer) is at the center of it all.

Once the founders had agreed on opening the coffee store, they decided to seek for the best name for it. Before this, however, they brainstormed ideas for the name.

Bowler, who felt he wasn’t good with naming, enlisted the help of his friends. One of them known, as Terry Heckler and who owned an advertising agency suggested that words starting with “St” were quite powerful.

Together with his friends, Bowler listed possible names starting with the prefix. One of the friends had a mining map of the Mount Rainer and Cascades area.

starbucks logo moby dick

While glancing at it, Bowler came across an old town known as Starbo. This reminded him of Moby Dick’s first mate Starbucks. He brought the idea to his mates who loved it. As they say, the rest is history.

Although Starbucks is a fictional character, there are some real sailors hailing from that era with the name Starbuck. There’s actually an Island somewhere in South Pacific known as Starbuck Island. Back in the late 1800s, the Island was mined for phosphate.

The area also had plenty of wrecked ships around it. It is said that the shipwrecks probably crushed under the force of the reefs surrounding the Island.

However, in Greek Mythology, these wrecks were caused by seductresses who lured sailors to crash on the coastlines. The Starbucks logo contains one of the seductresses.

There it is; the true story of where Starbucks got its name from. The short of it is that it was derived from a character from the famous novel Moby Dick and that was the collective effort of the three Starbucks founders, especially Bowler.

By the way: Have you ever wondered why Subway restaurants always have the same distinctive smell? We’ve got some interesting answers for you right here!