In 1984, Howard Schultz, who was then our director of operations and marketing, led our first-ever experiment with espresso. The results were promising, but our founders didn’t want to distract from the business’ primary goal: selling arabica coffee beans at retail. So in 1985 Howard left Starbucks and started Il Giornale, a company inspired by the ritual and romance he observed in Milan’s coffee bars. Though no longer part of the Starbucks team, he remained connected to the brand – Starbucks was his first investor, and Il Giornale’s coffee and espresso drinks were made from Starbucks beans.
Howard and chief coffee buyer Dave Olsen had opened three Il Giornale locations when opportunity knocked in March of 1987: Starbucks founders were ready to sell the company’s name, roasting plant and six Seattle stores. By August, Howard had raised the $3.8 million he needed. Just two years after its inception, Il Giornale acquired Starbucks assets and adopted the Starbucks name.