Between 1996 and 2006, we grew – FAST. Going from 1,000 to 13,000 stores, we were seemingly everywhere. And with growth came sacrifice.
We’d switched to automatic espresso machines to increase efficiency. But they were too tall – customers could no longer see their drink being made or chat with their barista, a key part of the Italian tradition that inspired us.
Technology had helped us ship freshly roasted coffee anywhere in the world. But by sealing in fresh taste, we’d lost the seductive aroma that came from scooping and grinding beans in stores.
We’d streamlined our store designs to work anywhere in the world. But they were sterile, cookie-cutter.
Our rapid growth began to slow and same-store sales declined for the first time in our history. We had to do something.
Howard Schultz, who had stepped down as ceo in 2000, returned to his role in January 2008 and would lead the company for next decade. His primary goals, outlined in a series of memos: refocusing us on core values and reigniting coffee passion and innovation.