Business

I visited Starbucks’ first-ever store and was surprised at how many original touches it still has since opening in 1971

The Pike Place Market store has the original company logo from 1971 and is one of Starbucks' only stores without food. See what else sets it apart. ...
Customers line-up to enter a Starbucks, commonly referred to as the original Starbucks, in the Pike Place Market Tuesday, May 29, 2018, in Seattle. The first Starbucks cafe was located nearby in the early 1970's. Starbucks will close more than 8,000 stores nationwide on Tuesday to conduct anti-bias training, the next of many steps the company is taking to try to restore its tarnished image as a hangout where all are welcome.
  • Starbucks has more than 30,000 locations around the world.
  • I visited its very first one, which opened in 1971, on a trip to Seattle's Pike Place Market. 
  • I was surprised how many features stayed the same and how much this Starbucks differs from others.
Starbucks is the largest coffeehouse chain in the world.

Starbucks store in Hong Kong
The company has more than 30,000 locations around the world.

A customer leaves a Starbucks Coffee shop in San Francisco, California.
It's headquartered in Seattle, where it opened its first store.

A general view of the Seattle Skyline and Mount Rainier from Kerry Park during the 2019 Rock'n'Roll Seattle Marathon and 1/2 Marathon on June 9, 2019 in Seattle, Washington
On a recent trip, I visited this store, which is located in the city's famous Pike Place Market.

a red "Public Market Center" sign at Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington
It was around 9am when I visited, but visitors to the store were somewhat sparse.

the exterior storefront of the original Starbucks location in Pike Place Market in Seattle

There was no line to get into the store, though there often is one.

I was immediately struck by the lettering on the windows announcing that the store sells cappuccinos, lattes, and espressos. I don't think I've ever seen a Starbucks storefront advertise its drinks like this since the company is so well-known today. It makes sense, though, that this one would, given that Starbucks wasn't yet a household name when this location opened in 1971.

the words "cappuccino" and "caffe" on the storefront of Starbucks' first store, located in Seattle's Pike Place Market
I was also surprised by the store's Starbucks logo. It's the original one from 1971, rather than the green-and-white logo commonly seen today.

the original Starbucks logo at its first store in Seattle's Pike Place Market
The original logo includes a full-body image of the company's iconic siren, as well as text bearing the Starbucks name and the fact that it sold coffee, tea, and spices.

the original Starbucks logo at its first store in Seattle's Pike Place Market
It's pretty different from Starbucks' current logo, which has ditched the words, changed color, switched to a half-length portrait, and moved the siren's hair from behind her back to over her chest.

Starbucks logo
Inside, the store looks more similar to other Starbucks locations.

shelves line the inside of Starbucks' store in Seattle's Pike Place Market as people wait for their drinks

According to Starbucks, however, it measures roughly 1,000 square feet, which makes it a bit smaller than the company's average store.

There's a lot of Starbucks merch that's specific to this store, including mugs, pins, and a cute "bearista" teddy bear…

a laminated list of merchandise specific to Starbucks' Pike Place Market store
…as well as reusable cups, tumblers, and ornaments.

a laminated list of merchandise specific to Starbucks' Pike Place Market store
Here's a closer look at some of the merch.

mugs at Starbucks' first store, located in Seattle's Pike Place Market
Since it's exclusive to this location, the merch features the store's original Starbucks logo.

tumblers and teddy bears at Starbucks' first store, located in Seattle's Pike Place Market
As a result, a lot of the merch follows the brown-and-white color scheme of the original logo, whereas Starbucks' regular merch at other stores is often more colorful.

tote bags and tumblers at Starbucks' first store, located in Seattle's Pike Place Market
This special assortment is part of the "Been There" series' Pin Drop Collection.

mugs and tumblers at Starbucks' first store, located in Seattle's Pike Place Market

The series is also a fixture at Disney parks in the US, where Starbucks merch custom to the theme parks lets you show that you've "been there."

By the counter, there's a brass sign denoting the store's significance in the company's history.

a brass sign denoting the first Starbucks store, located in Seattle's Pike Place Market
There's also a framed copy of a Pike Place Market shopping guide from 1973, as well as an original Starbucks one-pound bag coffee bag from 1971.

an old newsletter and shopping guide framed at Starbucks' first store, located in Seattle's Pike Place Market
Even the boxes at the store announce that the location is Starbucks' first.

boxes at Starbucks' first store, located in Seattle's Pike Place Market
Right above the door, there's a giant sculpture of a pig covered in coffee beans.

a pig wrapped in coffee beans and burlap at Starbucks' first store, located in Seattle's Pike Place Market
Named Pork 'n Beans, the pig was made for local competition Pigs on Parade in 2001 to fundraise for the Pike Place Market Foundation.

a pig wrapped in coffee beans and burlap at Starbucks' first store, located in Seattle's Pike Place Market
The location has a handwritten menu, which I've seen at Starbucks stores less and less often over the years.

a handwritten menu at Starbucks' first store, located in Seattle's Pike Place Market
There was one common Starbucks fixture missing from this store: food. In fact, this is one of the only Starbucks locations in the world without it.

customers and baristas at the counter at Starbucks' first store, located in Seattle's Pike Place Market
That's because the original lease forbade food sales, and the store has decided to stick with this rule as a sort of tradition.

Starbucks baristas at the company's first store, located in Seattle's Pike Place Market

(This is according to a Starbucks post about this store.)

Customers can buy coffee beans in bulk at the store, and some of the brass labels identifying the blends are the same ones the store has been using for decades.

coffee beans at Starbuck's first store, located in Seattle's Pike Place Market

For more than 10 years, the store only sold bulk coffee, tea, and spices until 1987, when it started selling brewed coffee and espresso drinks, according to the Starbucks post.

Alternatively, customers can take home pre-packed blends.

bags of special reserve coffee at Starbucks' first store, located in Seattle's Pike Place Market
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised how many original touches remain from the store's early years.

The Starbucks sign is seen on the window of the World's first ever Starbucks coffee shop, which opened in Pike Place in Seattle in 1971

I felt a greater sense of history just standing in the store than I had imagined I would feel. I see why tourists flock to this Starbucks location, and I'm glad I did so myself. 

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