Pour Your Heart Into It. How Starbucks built a company one cup at a time

Starbucks Siren logo
Starbucks Siren logo

I’ve Just finished reading “Pour Your Heart Into It.  How Starbucks built a company one cup at a time” by Howard Schultz the Chairman and CEO of Starbucks and Dori Jones Yang.  I thought it would be a nice extension to my site to develop it out of just cycling and into other things that I am doing or interest me.  Also if I start reviewing books it will make me read more which can only be a good thing!

So here goes.

Pour Your Heart Into It.  How Starbucks built a company one cup at a time

This book was published in 1997 and follows the story of Starbucks and Howard Shultz.  Starbucks originally started a small Seattle based coffee chain which Howard Shultz joined after being seduced by the coffee culture from trips to Italy.  At this time Starbucks only sold coffee in beans, they did not operate as a cafe or “Third Place” as they like to be known.  Howard saw this gap in the market for quality coffee and pushed to develop Starbucks into an espresso bar.  He met a great deal of resistance from the owners and eventually left to start his own chain of cafe’s called Il Giornale.

An opportunity arose to buy Starbucks and overnight Il Giornale doubled in size and they took the decision to use the Starbucks name.

I have read several “business books” and enjoyed this one particularly as it doesn’t preach to you how business should be done but shows where mistakes were made and how they expanded the business to what it is now.  That said it is written by the CEO and Chairman of Starbucks so could be considered a one sided view of the company.

Some interesting facts I didn’t realise

  • Starbucks are very focused on the quality of the customer experience.  To this extend they built their company through a route of ownership and not franchising (which would have enabled them to grow the company much faster but with less control over their stores).  This placed enormous capital costs on the company so a lot of venture capital funding was required (In 1995 the average store opening cost was $350,000)
  • One of the biggest board room debates was whether to offer the choice of skimmed milk.  While customers requested it, it had been turned down.  The company grew from the directors love and appreciation of fine coffee and they did not want anything to get in the way of that.  The book shows well how Starbucks have pushed to maintain their core beliefs of quality coffee while adapting to suit the customer wants.  An example of this is that a coffee purist could buy an espresso while another customer can have a Latte with skimmed milk and a shot of syrup.  They offer these additions but the core coffee is the same, they would not offer syrup flavoured beans for example.

Also it is interesting reading how a company manages growth, putting expensive systems in place before you need them to plan for the future.

If you’ve read the book please leave a comment and let me know what you thought of it.  If you would like to read it follow the links below to buy it from Amazon or Borders.

Click here to buy Pour your Heart into it from Borders.

Click here to buy Pour your Heart into it from Amazon UK

For lighter further reading their is quite a good Wikipedia article on Starbucks here

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