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January 2011

So, Who is the Siren?

Great question. It’s one we kept asking ourselves during the evolution of our logo (and yes, that’s right, a writer was involved in a logo project). We all needed to really, deeply understand for ourselves who she is.

So, a little history.

Let’s go all the way back to 1971, to when Starbucks was first coming to be. In a search for a way to capture the seafaring history of coffee and Seattle’s strong seaport roots, there was a lot of poring over old marine books going on. Suddenly, there she was: a 16th century Norse woodcut of a twin-tailed mermaid, or Siren. There was something about her – a seductive mystery mixed with a nautical theme that was exactly what the founders were looking for. A logo was designed around her, and our long relationship with the Siren began.

Over the last 40 years we’ve made some changes to that identity. Now we’re doing that again, to keep ourselves relevant as we evolve without ever losing sight of our heritage. But the Siren has always been there. She is at the heart of Starbucks.

As a writer, though, I can tell you that there is a lot more to her than just the design and how she looks. This is what she means to me, and to us.

She is a storyteller, carrying the lore of Starbucks ahead, and remembering our past. In a lot of ways, she’s a muse –always there, inspiring us and pushing us ahead.

And she’s a promise too, inviting all of us to find what we’re looking for, even if it’s something we haven’t even imagined yet.

She means something different to every one who sees her, who knows her. For me she’s kind of the final say on the spirit of everything I write and everything we do. Even as I’m writing this, I wonder what she thinks. (She likes it, by the way.)

Here we are today. Our new evolution liberates the Siren from the outer ring, making her the true, welcoming face of Starbucks. For people all over the globe, she is a signal of the world’s finest coffee – and much more. She stands unbound, sharing our stories, inviting all of us in to explore, to find something new and to connect with each other. And as always, she is urging all of us forward to the next thing. After all, who can resist her?

Not me.

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Bringing the Siren to Life

When we first heard about the possibility of modifying the Starbucks brand identity, our minds went wild with the possibilities. This was the project of a lifetime. The designers here at Starbucks have such a love for this brand – it’s what drives our creativity.

From the start, we wanted to recognize and honor the important equities of the iconic Starbucks logo. So we broke down the four main parts of the mark – color, shape, typeface and the Siren. After hundreds of explorations, we found the answer in simplicity. Removing the words from the mark, bringing in the green, and taking the Siren out of her ring. For forty years she’s represented coffee, and now she is the star.

The details came next. The 20-year old logo was built in the early days of AutoTrace and it showed – points everywhere. We improved composition, brought in more sophisticated stroke width and spacing and a smoother line flow. When it came to her – the Siren – we enhanced her form in subtle ways, smoothing her hair, refining her facial features, weighting the scales on her tail to bring the focus to her face. We enlisted the branding firm of Lippincott to help with these refinements, and give us a better global perspective on the entire identity system.

The result is an evolved logo that celebrates the Siren in a much bolder way – it’s more expressive and energetic and still uses the same vibrant green circle that is so well recognized by our customers around the world.

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Looking Forward to Starbucks Next Chapter

We’ve always believed the best days of Starbucks are ahead of us. So we’re excited to share with you where we’re going.

Nearly forty years ago – in a small retail space in Seattle’s Pike Place Market – Starbucks began its journey as a roaster and retailer of high-quality coffees from around the world. Back then, we sold only whole bean coffee – we wouldn’t begin offering espresso beverages in our stores until more than a decade later – but the Siren was as much a part of the Starbucks story as she is today.

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Top Five Reasons to Love Skinny Caramel Macchiato

Hi! We have another delicious addition to our "skinny" espresso drink line up: Skinny Caramel Macchiato.

Here are my top five reasons to love Skinny Caramel Macchiato…

  1. It’s ‘skinny’ at its best – nonfat milk, sugar free vanilla syrup, no whip – topped with a layer of creamy foam and drizzled with a hint of buttery caramel.
  2. There are only 105 calories in a Tall size (12 fl oz) – can you believe it?
  3. There are only 140 calories in a Grande size (16 fl oz) – ust as delicious if I need a little more skinny in my day!
  4. It’s delicious iced and beautiful too… Iced Skinny Caramel Macchiato has visual layers of coffee caramel goodness and is my personal favorite.
  5. It’s here just in time to help you with your New Year’s goal.

Skinny Caramel Macchiato is just one of many beverages that you can try "skinny". To try it skinny, just ask for: nonfat milk + sugar-free syrup + no whip.

Let me know what you think about trying your favorite espresso beverages skinny!

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The Vegas Way

Vegas: Class Acts of the Vegas Strip

Most of the CDs we produce around here center on musicians. But our new Vegas collection features entertainers!

The distinction is admittedly a bit squishy, but vital. There is something fundamentally different about the scene that grew up in the Nevada desert following World War II, especially when measured against what was going on in jazz and, later on, rock circles. The pop performers who flourished in Las Vegas were certainly serious about their music, but they came from a show-biz tradition that emphasized good times over great art.

The goal was to get the crowd laughing, make ‘em a little misty eyed, bring them on their feet for an ovation and send them out the door feeling like they got a real bang for their buck. A truly demanding agenda, when you think about it.

The likes of Dean Martin, Peggy Lee, Bobby Darin and Ann-Margaret were comfortable onstage in the casinos, as well as on television and films sets. Like all pros, they aimed to hit their notes, but they also had to deliver a zinger and synchronize passably with the chorus line … all the while looking fabulous in a tux or glittering gown!

So keep the big picture in mind when listening to the 16 selections on Vegas: Class Acts of the Vegas Strip. The guys and gals here aren’t just singing songs. They’re putting on a show!

And remember to tip your waitress.

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Cocoa Origin Trip Report – Ecuador

Behind every bite of a Starbucks chocolate bar there are many stories of farmers, processors and chocolate confectioners. This is my story.

I am with John Kehoe, a cocoa expert from TCHO who has dedicated his life to find the finest cocoas in the world. Our journey starts in Ecuador, a beautiful country with a long tradition of cocoa production. As is traditional in Starbucks sourcing practices, we want to establish direct relationships with the farmers, so we start by visiting a small farmer cooperative named La Fortaleza (which means “strength of a fortress”), located a couple of hours from the town of Portoviejo.

Our first stop is at the farm of Mr. Alfonso. It really caught our attention how his plantation was neat and organized – he had a quite novel irrigation system, and the benefits of all the trainings he has attended really showed. Later on he told us he used to be cab driver in New York for 17 years(!) until he felt the need to come back to his native land 15 years ago.

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Crafting Artisan Bread

Have you ever tried to bake for a big get together? It can be pretty rough and I get overwhelmed with all the ingredients to bake for ten. Try baking for our most loyal customers all over the US every day! Since 2008 when we launched our new Artisan Breakfast Sandwiches La Brea Bakery, local to Van Nuys, California, has been baking all our Artisan rolls using only the finest ingredients.

And now we are adding a new sandwich to the already delicious line up - Veggie, Egg & Monterey Jack. This sandwich was inspired by our customers on MyStarbucksIdea and is a new personal favorite of John Yamin – he’s the CEO at La Brea Bakery. While his expertise is bread – he loves the fire-roasted veggies in the egg frittata and any bread aficionado loves cheese so this sandwich is right up his alley!

“Starbucks’ and La Brea Bakery’s Culinary team partnered together to design a truly authentic, hand crafted roll that has become the signature bread for Starbucks’ Artisan Breakfast Sandwiches. Each roll is made with the highest quality ingredients, but the unique ingredient that sets this roll apart from other brands is the starter. All of La Brea Bakery’s breads are made with the original starter our founder first created back in 1988, giving our breads their distinct flavor. The other great thing about Artisan bread is the craftsmanship that goes into finding just the right combination - from the golden crust to the slightly sweet and soft interior and free forming shape, it is culinary creativity at its best. And, each Starbucks Artisan Roll is hand-scored by our bakers – as you can imagine that’s a LOT of scoring.

We’re very proud of our partnership with Starbucks and their dedication to quality. Next time you’re at your local Starbucks getting coffee, I encourage you to try an Artisan Breakfast Sandwich and experience the difference.“

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New Starbucks VIA® Ready Brew™ French Roast

Hi! I became a Starbucks partner in May 2010 and I work on developing new blends for Starbucks VIA® Ready Brew™.

I was an avid fan of our instant coffee before I joined Starbucks, and French Roast has been my favorite whole bean coffee for years. That’s why I’m so excited to announce that we have just launched Starbucks VIA® French Roast.

This coffee adds our darkest-roasted coffee to the Starbucks VIA® Ready Brew™ family. It has an intense smoky flavor with surprising low acidity and light body. This coffee pairs perfectly with a sweet morning pastry – I like to enjoy it first thing in the morning to help get me ready to face the day.

Let us know what you think of this new coffee!

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