The Story of Starbucks

If you would like to access the second part to the first part of this audio in which we talk about the expression TO BLOW OFF STEAM, click here.


"There were no coffee bars, nor was there much of a demand for espresso-based drinks. You purchase coffee beans and you either took them home as beans or we ground them for you in the store. Nobody expected to get a beverage at a Starbucks coffee store until after 1980." – Zeg Siegl (co-founder of Starbucks)


Hi, everyone. Welcome back. Hope you’re well. This is part two of our two-part episode. In part one, we spoke about the common English expression to blow off steam. And in this episode, part two, you’ll hear the story of Starbucks. You know Starbucks, right? The coffee company? Born in Seattle, Washington, and brewed around the world? I bet you do. They have over 33,000 stores in 80 different countries.

I know some of you are thinking, Oh, no, not Starbucks, but hear me out. This story is interesting: One, because it’s an absurdly successful business, how did they do it? Two, it’s about coffee. And come on, who doesn’t love coffee? And three, you’ll learn a bucketload of new vocabulary as we go. So pay attention, make notes, and as usual, write your sentences after you’re done; original sentences using new vocab and phrases.

The introduction to this audio was taken from the YouTube channel CNBC in a video titled How Starbucks Became an $80 Billion Business. I’ll provide the link to that video on the episode webpage and also in the transcript.

Before we begin, I’d like to give a big shoutout to Picante, Paulo and the other anonymous contributors who bought me coffee recently. It’s amazing! You are amazing. Thank you so much for your support. A while back, I put a link in the episode notes that allows listeners to support this podcast through coffee. It’s kind of a funny way to contribute, but my daughters and I love it, and we think of you guys when we indulge in ice cream and coffee and other nice treats. I don’t give coffee to my daughters, but you know what I mean. Thank you so much.

If you have learned something on this podcast and would like to support my work, leaving reviews on Apple or on Spotify is extremely helpful.

I also appreciate everyone who has signed up to premium content. With premium content, you get all of the bonus materials for seasons. Seasons are chunks of episodes, so 50 episodes, and in them you’ll have exercises, quizzes, shadowing exercises, the transcripts with notes and vocabulary explained. There’s just so much more. So if you’re interested in checking out premium content, those links are also in the episode notes. Once again, thank you all for your support.

Without any further ado, let’s begin our talk about Starbucks.


It’s a misty Saturday morning as you walk along the water towards Pike Place Market, the longest operating public market in the United States.

From the corner of your eye, you can see fishermen pulling the latest catch off their boats: Salmon, lingcod, flounder and dungeness crab are just a few things found in the Northern Pacific’s icy waters.

The body of water to your left where the fishing boats are docked is called the Puget Sound, and it’s an inlet that connects Seattle, Washington, to the Pacific Ocean and the rest of the world.

Seattle is a port city and Pike Place Market is a [00:05:00] necessary stopping point there. It’s more than just an elevated fish market; it’s where you go as a local or a tourist to buy fresh bread and flowers, it’s where you go to meet old friends and connect with new ones.

The thing is, Pike Place is to Seattle as the Colosseum is to Rome. It’s iconic, it’s legendary, and it’s where the first Starbucks location opened on a cold March day in 1971.


That’s the end of the free version of this transcript. If you would like access to the full transcript as well as mp3, interactive transcript reader (to work on accent) and quiz, be sure to sign up to Season 3 or All Premium Content.


Starbucks Store in Washington
1912 Pike Place - Often referred to as "the original Starbucks." Photograph: Simon Crumpton/Alamy