Over the past few years, I’ve spent some time browsing Seattle TImes Historical Archives in an effort to try and understand the early history of Starbucks. Here’s a look at some interesting Starbuckian history gems:

Did you know that in the early 1980s, Starbucks would offer symposiums where customers would pay a fee to learn about coffee? I saw several of these kind of ads in the Seattle Times, all dating from the early 1980s. The store mentioned here, located at 4555 University Way, is still around and was the 5th Starbucks to ever open, having opened in April 1982:

Coffee Symposium April 6 1983 - cropped

^ The coffee symposium ad appeared in the Seattle Times on April 6, 1983.

Also classified as an interesting tidbit, Starbucks coffee was once offered on the Washington State ferries:

1 Feb 1984 Starbucks on Washington State Ferries

According to that February 1, 1984 news story, the Washington State Ferry system tested out having a higher-priced coffee offered from May 1983 to February 1, 1984, offering Starbucks coffee.

Last but not least, Starbucks traded a bag of Kona in order to get a bag of Jamaica Blue Mountain! This might have been the first offering that Starbucks has ever done of the famed Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee beans!! Look at that price tag! In 1983, that has to have been considered astronomical to offer a coffee for $25 per half pound! Of course, even better, if you read the news story, proceeds went to a good cause … that might explain the unusual pricing.

25 May 1983 Jamaica Blue Mountain Starbucks

The gentleman, Jim Reynolds, mentioned in that news story is famous in the world of coffee. He’s featured here in this news story on Coffee Talk, and was honored in 2016 by the Specialty Coffee Association.


Enjoy your Starbucks flashback! I’m always interested in Starbucks history lesson stories. Please use the contact form on this site – I would love to hear from you if you have a tip, story, or idea for this website.

If you want more Starbucks history, I recommend the following:

Caffe Verona: The true story needs some Irish whiskey!

1989 Coffee Menu at Starbucks

1989 Starbucks training book

The First Starbucks in Oregon

Starbucks Delivery Truck Then and Now

1992 Starbucks at Pike Place – The Pike Place cookbook.


(There is a more mobile device friendly version of this article here.)