Who would’ve guessed that one of the most important debates in our history would be over nonfat milk?
Howard Schultz had long dreamed of bringing the authentic Italian espresso bar experience to the United States. When his dream came true at Starbucks in 1987, that meant adding lattes and cappuccinos to our menu, which were traditionally served with whole milk. So that’s the only way we offered them.
When Howard Behar joined us in 1989, however, he heard a clear message from the baristas and customers he talked to: People wanted the option of nonfat milk. The Howards were at an impasse. Behar thought we should accommodate customer requests. Schultz thought nonfat milk didn't taste as good.
Schultz changed his mind when he saw us lose a customer over a nonfat latte, and within months we made nonfat milk available across our stores. More importantly, we learned a major lesson about putting our customers, and their desires, first. We eventually adopted a new policy: “Just Say Yes.”