In 1997 Winter began visiting various Starbucks locations, expressing the intent to visit every Starbucks location in the world. To minimize the amount of Starbucks locations, he eliminated any licensed stores to focus solely on those owned by the company. For each location to "count" he would drink "at least one four-ounce sample of caffeinated coffee from each store." He would also take a picture and post it on his website.
In 2012, Starbucks introduced Starbucks Verismo, a line of coffee makers that brew espresso and regular chocolate from coffee capsules, a type of pre-apportioned single-use container of ground coffee and flavorings utilizing the K-Fee pod system. In a brief review of the 580 model, Consumer Reports described the results of a comparative test of the Verismo 580 against two competitive brands: "Because you have to conduct a rinse cycle between each cup, the Verismo wasn't among the most convenient of single-serve machines in our coffeemaker tests. Other machines we've tested have more flexibility in adjusting brew strength—the Verismo has buttons for coffee, espresso, and latte with no strength variation for any type. And since Starbucks has limited its coffee selection to its own brand, there are only eight varieties so far plus a milk pod for the latte."
Winter has estimated that he has spent over $100,000 on the project, drinking an average 10 cups of coffee a day and once spending $1400 on a plane ticket to purchase a cup of coffee from a Starbucks in British Columbia before it closed. As of September 2019, Winter reported having visited over 15,000 global locations, including almost 12,000 in the United States.
Starbucks opened its first store in 1999 and since 2011 has been opening 80 new premises a year. The strong association with the South Korean public and the US has helped make coffee desirable and with many Koreans associating coffee and Starbucks as a lifestyle choice, it has become a status symbol throughout the city. Landlords are eager to have the brand open up a store in their buildings to enhance their value, reputation and image.
Sam Buck Lundberg, who owns a coffee store in Oregon, was prohibited from using "Sambuck's Coffee" on the shop front in 2006. Starbucks lost a trademark infringement case against a smaller coffee vendor in South Korea that operates coffee stations under the name Starpreya. The company, Elpreya, says Starpreya is named after the Norse goddess, Freja, with the letters of that name changed to ease pronunciation by Koreans. The court rejected Starbucks's claim that the logo of Starpreya is too similar to their own logo. A bar owner in Galveston, Texas, USA won the right to sell "Star Bock Beer" after a lawsuit by Starbucks in 2003 after he registered the name, but the 2005 federal court ruling also stated that the sale of the beer must be restricted to Galveston, a ruling upheld by the Supreme Court in 2007.
Starbucks has been described as the main representative of "second wave coffee," a retrospectively termed movement that popularized artisanal coffee, particularly darkly roasted coffee. Since the 2000s, third wave coffee makers have targeted quality-minded coffee drinkers with hand-made coffee based on lighter roasts, while Starbucks nowadays uses automated espresso machines for efficiency and safety reasons.
Other successful cases filed by Starbucks include the case won in 2006 against the chain Xingbake in Shanghai, China for trademark infringement, because the chain used a green-and-white circular logo with a name that sounded phonetically similar to the Chinese for Starbucks. Starbucks did not open any stores after first registering its trademark in Russia in 1997, and in 2002 a Russian lawyer successfully filed a request to cancel the trademark. He then registered the name with a Moscow company and asked for $600,000 to sell the trademark to Starbucks, but was ruled against in November 2005.
In October 2012, Starbucks faced criticism after a Reuters investigation found that the company reportedly paid only £8.6 million in corporation tax in the UK over 14 years, despite generating over £3 billion in sales—this included no tax payments on £1.3 billion of sales in the three years prior to 2012. It is alleged that Starbucks was able to do this by charging high licensing fees to the UK branch of the business, allowing them to declare a £33 million loss in 2011. The UK subsidiary pays patent fees to the US subsidiary, purchases coffee beans from the Netherlands subsidiary (where corporation tax is lower than in the UK), and uses the Swiss subsidiary for other "miscellaneous services." A YouGov survey suggested that Starbucks's brand image was substantially weakened by the controversy surrounding how much tax it pays in the UK several weeks after the allegations surfaced.
In January 2011, Starbucks and Tata Coffee, Asia's largest coffee plantation company, announced plans for a strategic alliance to bring Starbucks to India and also to source and roast coffee beans at Tata Coffee's Kodagu facility. Despite a false start in 2007, in January 2012, Starbucks announced a 50:50 joint venture with Tata Global Beverages called Tata Starbucks. Tata Starbucks will own and operate Starbucks outlets in India as Starbucks Coffee "A Tata Alliance." Starbucks opened its first store in India in Mumbai on October 19, 2012.
In August 2013, Starbucks's CEO, Howard Schultz, personally announced the opening of Starbucks stores in Colombia. The first café was set to open in 2014 in Bogotá and add 50 more stores throughout Colombia's main cities in a 5-year limit. Schultz also stated that Starbucks will work with both the Colombian Government and USAID to continue "empowering local coffee growers and sharing the value, heritage and tradition of its coffee with the world." Starbucks noted that the aggressive expansion into Colombia was a joint venture with Starbucks's Latin partners, Alsea and Colombia's Grupo Nutresa that has previously worked with Starbucks by providing coffee through Colcafe. This announcement comes after Starbucks's Farmer Support Center was established in Manizales, Colombia the previous year making Colombia an already established country by the corporation.
Since 2003, Starbucks in the UK rolled out a paid Wi-Fi based on one-time, hourly or daily payment. Then, in September 2009, it was changed to a 100% free Wi-Fi at most of its outlets. Customers with a Starbucks Card are able to log-on to the Wi-Fi in-store for free with their card details, thereby bringing the benefits of the loyalty program in line with the United States. Since July 2010, Starbucks has offered free Wi-Fi in all of its US stores via AT&T and information through a partnership with Yahoo!. This is an effort to be more competitive against local chains, which have long offered free Wi-Fi, and against McDonald's, which began offering free wireless internet access in 2010. On June 30, 2010, Starbucks announced it would begin to offer unlimited and free Internet access via Wi-Fi to customers in all company-owned locations across Canada starting on July 1, 2010.
In the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) markets, Starbucks operates a franchising program. Different from the licensing program in which existing corporations may apply to operate a Starbucks kiosk within an existing store, franchises can enable new, freestanding stores.
In July 2019, Starbucks reported "fiscal third-quarter net income of $1.37 billion, or $1.12 per share, up from $852.5 million, or 61 cents per share, a year earlier." The company's market value of $110.2 billion increased by 41% in the mid of 2019. The earnings per share in quarter three were recorded 78 cents, much more than the forecast of 72 cents.
Groups such as Global Exchange are calling for Starbucks to further increase its sales of fair trade coffees.
As of April 2019, Starbucks is present on 6 continents and in 78 countries and territories, with around 27,340 Locations:
In February 2016, Howard Schultz announced the opening of stores in Italy. The first Italian Starbucks store was inaugurated in Milan on September 6, 2018.
In August 2009, Ahold announced closures and rebranding for 43 of their licensed store Starbucks kiosks for their US based Stop & Shop and Giant supermarkets.
As an executive he helped build Seattle-based coffee company Starbucks Coffee. Most recently he was President, Starbucks Coffee - Innovation, Chief Creative Officer and Operational Lead of Starbucks Reserve Roasteries. Rubinfeld joined in 1992 and expanded the company worldwide until his departure in 2002. During that time, recognized as one of Starbuck's most important development periods, Rubinfeld was Senior Vice President of Real Estate and Store Development. In January 2000, Rubinfeld was named Executive Vice President of the Starbucks Corporation.
Starbucks is Seattle's largest coffee retailer. It was founded in 1971 in Pike Place Market as a roaster, but only later became an espresso bar. In 1984 ownership of the company changed and Howard Schultz led a massive international expansion of the company. In 2003, Starbucks acquired pioneering Seattle roaster Seattle's Best Coffee (SBC, originally Stewart Brothers' Coffee).
In 2002, Starbucks branches throughout New York City issued a document to its workers entitled "What Should I do If Reverend Billy Is in My Store?", which outlines an evacuation protocol and a series of scripted reassurances that workers are ordered to deliver to disturbed or inquisitive customers. The title of the document is also the title of a book written by Talen, published by The New Press.