Fifty years ago, on March 30, 1971, a store selling freshly roasted coffee beans and coffee equipment opened in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Who ever would have thought that little specialty store would lay the groundwork for Starbucks’ (SBUX) billion-dollar coffee empire, with tens of thousands of coffee stores around the world.
Over the past five decades, Starbucks has evolved from a little coffee store into a chain of almost 33,000 company-operated and licensed stores, sprawled across more than 80 countries. With a market capitalization of $128 billion, the Starbucks Corporation has grown into the second-largest quick-service restaurant chain in the world, trailing only McDonald’s (MCD) in terms of sales, market capitalization and global brand appeal.
Even the pandemic wasn’t enough to keep Starbucks’ cult following of coffee and caffeine addicts away, bringing in more than $23 billion in sales in 2020, the third-most in 12 years, while seeing shares of its stock nearly double since its pandemic lows in March.
From 1,000 stores in 1996 to 10,000 stores in 2005, Starbucks passed milestone after milestone adding more and more countries to its blossoming licensing business. By the end of 2020, the company operated 16,742 stores in eight countries, while 16,196 licensed stores were operated in 81 countries.