Starbucks almost had a completely different (and terrible) name

Can you imagine calling it this?

Words by Jadie Troy-Pryde

Starbucks may be famous for getting absolutely everyone’s name wrong (perhaps for this sneaky reason), and for that amazing hack that turns your lowly lid into a fully functioning coaster, but the popular coffee house that we all know and love could have been completely different.

You probably couldn’t imagine getting your venti skinny wet cappuccino from anywhere else, but would you be inclined to get your caffeine fix from the coffee chain if it was called Cargo House? Because it very almost was, and it definitely doesn’t have the same ring to it as Starbucks.

Gordon Bowker, one of the Starbucks co-founders, told The Seattle Times that calling it Cargo House ‘would have been a terrible, terrible mistake’ so he decided to have a rethink with his friend, Terry Heckler. The pair delved into consumer perception in order to create a powerful brand.

Bowker began by trialling ‘st’ words, which he said he knew worked well because they come across as strong, and so he began looking at an old map for inspiration.

‘Somebody somehow came up with an old mining map of the Cascades and Mount Rainier, and there was an old mining town called Starbo,’ he told the US paper.

But the name didn’t stick. They considered including nautical references, taking to Moby-Dick and honing in on Captain Ahab’s ship’s name, Pequod. Again, this was dropped as it didn’t feel quite right.

However, what did stand out to Bowker and Heckler was a name in the novel by Herman Melville – Starbuck. In the movie version, Captain Ahab’s first friend is a coffee fiend.

The name ‘[evokes] the romance of the high seas and the seafaring tradition of the early coffee traders,’ according to the brand, but now we know that it’s just a coincidence that they were able to tie up the nautical backstory with its marketing.

Sly. But the frappuccinos are pretty special, so they’re forgiven.

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