Happy 40th Birthday, Starbucks

Starbucks is looking good on its 40th birthday, which is Wednesday. How did it grow to a public company with a total 17,009 stores (as of Jan. 2, 2011)?

March 30, 1971: Starbucks is founded by three guys and a dream

Two teachers and a writer wanted to sell fresh-roasted whole bean coffees. Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl and Gordon Bowker pooled their money, $1,350 each, and borrowed another $5,000 from a bank. Starbucks was born. The name of the narrow coffee house first located in Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market is named after the first mate in Herman from the book “Moby-Dick.”

Early 1980s: Executive changes

In 1980, Starbucks was the largest coffee bean roaster in the state to Washington. Founding member Siegl sold his shares, leaving Baldwin to serve as CEO. Bowker kept his shares but went on to launch Redhook Ale Brewery, a microbrewery.

1981: Howard Schultz joins the coffee business

The current chairman and CEO walked into the first Starbucks store and drank a cup of Sumatra in 1981. A year later he joined the company and by 1987 he and some local investors purchased Starbucks. After an eight-year hiatus for most of the 2000s, Schultz is back at the helm.

Nov. 4, 1985: Incorporation, here we come

The company was incorporated under the laws of the State of Washington, in Olympia, Washington.

June 26, 1992: Starbucks goes public

The coffee company makes its Initial Public Offering (IPO). The stock opened at $17 per share, closing at $21.50 . Starbucks is traded on NASDAQ as SBUX .

Sept. 29, 1993: First of five stock splits

Starbucks executes its first of five stock splits. Since then the stock has also had two-for-one splits on Dec. 1, 1995; March 19, 1999; April 27, 2001; and Oct. 21, 2005.

1995: Frappuccino time

The Frappuccino enters the building, as does super premium ice cream. A year later the creamy drink is bottled and sold.

1997: Starbucks Barista home espresso machine is introduced

The company wants you to drink its coffees at home. 1997 also saw the testing and introduction of Starbucks products in another familiar place: the grocery store.

1998: Global expansion

By 1998, Starbucks coffee houses could be found in place in Tokyo, Singapore, the Philippines, Taiwan and South Korea in 1998. It purchases Tazo Tea.

January 2010: Lower Calorie Options offered

As a way to show a commitment to offering customers options, the coffee house introduced food and beverages with fewer calories. Free Wi-Fi is now standard.

January 2011: Artisan Sandwiches introduced

Taking a cue from East coast coffee giant Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks offers breakfast foods on their menu in the form of Artisan Breakfast Sandwiches as a way to offer customers “a great value.”

March 2011: Starbucks introduces the Tribute blend

The coffee giant thanks its loyal customers with a tribute and commemorates its 40th birthday with new bean blend. The Tribute blend contains four types of coffee beans, Aged Sumatra, Papua New Guinea, Sun-Dried Ethiopia, Colombia.