Posts tagged ‘starbucks’

Starbucks is Named After a Moby Dick Character

By Chad Upton | Editor

In 1971, an English teacher, a history teacher and writer started a coffee roasting business in Seattle.

It’s not surprising that such an intellectual group would have an affinity for classics like Moby Dick. In fact, Starbucks was nearly called Pequod, the name of the whaling ship in Moby Dick. Thankfully, one of the partners rejected the name. Instead, they went with Starbucks, the name of Pequod’s first mate.

Although Starbuck was a fictional young quaker from Nantucket, there were a number of real sailors from that era named “Starbuck.” Naming a coffee company was not the first time the Starbuck name was borrowed either. There is an island in the South Pacific, a popular region for whaling, called Starbuck Island.

Starbuck Island was heavily mined for phosphate in the late 1800s and many ships were wrecked there. The high frequency of shipwrecks was probably caused by the reefs that surrounded the island, but there is a mythical explanation too.

In Greek Mythology there are seductresses who lure sailors to shipwreck on the coast of their islands. These mythical creatures are called Sirens and the Starbucks logo contains one.

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Images: Wikimedia (Starbucks)

Sources: Wikipedia (Starbucks, Moby Dick, Starbuck Island, Siren)

June 4, 2011 at 2:00 am 12 comments

Seattle’s Best Coffee is Owned By Starbucks

By Chad Upton | Editor

If you’re not wired into the coffee industry, that Seattle’s Best at the mall may look like a suitable competitor to the Starbucks outlets that flank the mall corridor.

Actually, that’s kind of what they want you to think. If you’re anti-Starbucks, you might feel right at home with Seattle’s Best. It’s still high quality coffee, but it’s cheaper than Starbucks and doesn’t have the same cache, which is exactly what some people are looking for.

Even if you knew they were owned by Starbucks, you might not realize that Seattle’s Best is a few years older than Starbucks. Both companies began in Seattle, Starbucks officially started March 30, 1971 and Seattle’s Best began sometime in 1968.

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Sources: Wikipedia (Seattle’s Best, Starbucks)

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

May 18, 2011 at 2:00 am 2 comments

Secret Menu Items

By Kaye Nemec

When you go out to eat, you generally choose your meal based on the menu items and maybe making a few tweaks here or there.

Many restaurants have “secret” menus that are becoming increasingly well known, thanks to the internet. So the next time you’re having a hard time deciding what to order, try to remember some of these secret menu items.

At Subway, my favorite secret menu item is the Pizza Sub. Rookies may not know about it, so you may have to instruct them: it’s basically tomato sauce (from the meatballs) with pepperoni and cheese (plus whatever other toppings you want). I suggest shredded cheese and toasting to get pizza-like melted cheese. If you’ve never had a pizza sub, do yourself a favor.

Chains like Taco Bell and Chipotle – restaurants that usually serve items made to order and only use a few ingredients – will allow you to individualize your order. Next time you’re in the mood for Mexican look at the menu loosely and ask for beans instead of meat or make an order of Nachos at Chipotle, they’ve got all the ingredients, but these arrangements are not on the menu.

Did you know you can order Dairy Queen’s Blizzard of the Month even after its respective month has passed? So if you fell in love with the Strawberry Golden Oreo Blizzard in June and aren’t crazy about the current Brownie Batter option, go ahead and get your Golden Oreo fix, they’ve still got the ingredients on hand!

Another favorite is the Neapolitan shake at McDonald’s. Instead of choosing between a chocolate, vanilla or strawberry shake, have them all in one cup! You may have to explain this one to the chef, but basically they just have to stop the shake machine from filling the cup and switch the flavor. Of course, they’ll have to repeat the stop and switch a couple times to get all three flavors.

One of the worst kept secret menus comes from a popular West Coast fast-food chain called In-N-Out Burger. In-N-Out is wildly popular for their simple menu of burgers, fries and shakes. Their ingredients are fresh and never frozen – you can even see them slicing real, fresh potatoes and making them into delicious French fries right before your eyes. To the average customer, menu options consist of a hamburger, cheeseburger, Double Double, French fries and vanilla, chocolate or strawberry shakes.

To the In-N-Out regular, the menu consists of items like Double Meat, Grilled Cheese, 3 x 3 (or 4×4 or 5×5 etc.) — which is the number of patties and number of cheese slices. There is also Animal Style with all the fixin’s. Or, if you’re watching your carbs, you can get “protein style” which replaces the bun with lettuce.  Because this secret menu has become so popular, the chain has published it on their website.

According to internet rumors, another popular chain with a large secret menu is Jamba Juice. Known for their mostly “healthy” and refreshing fruit smoothies, Jamba Juice has a secret menu that is full of smoothie options with a much higher calorie count. White Gummi Bear seems to be one of the most popular options, others flavors include Banana Cream Pie, Peanut Butter & Jelly, Pink Starburst and Push Pop.

In addition to wide-spread secret menus, several restaurants are open to customers creating individualized menu items for themselves. Starbucks, for example, is open to customers creating whatever drink they’d like. You are welcome to combine flavors, add extra espresso shots, blend a normally iced drink, put ice on a normally hot drink etc. Your options appear to be endless. For a complete list of Starbucks drink options, check out this other post on Starbucks Drink ID Codes.

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Sources:,  Jamba Underground, The Consumerist

Photo: SanFranAnnie (cc)

September 15, 2010 at 5:00 am 5 comments

Tea Contains Less Caffeine Than Coffee

By Chad Upton

This is one of those things that a lot of people know and a lot people get wrong.

Most coffee has 60-100 milligrams of caffeine per cup. Here’s a list of the most popular coffees and their caffeine content:

Coffee (16oz) Caffeine (mg)
Starbucks 330
Caffè Americano (Espresso) 225
Tim Hortons 160
McDonald’s 145
Store Brand (Drip) 145
Dunkin Donuts 143
Store Brand (Brewed) 108
Decaf 2-5

As you can see, Starbucks coffee is the strongest with 330 mg of caffeine in a 16oz serving. It is followed by Starbucks Caffè Americano, which has three shots of espresso in it and more than 100 mg less caffeine in the same size serving. Most of the other brands have about 110-160 mg in a 16oz serving..

So, how does that compare to tea? Let’s have a look:

Tea (16oz) Caffeine (mg)
Starbucks Tazo Chai 94
Black 90
Green 40
White 30
Starbucks Tazo Red 0

As we can see, Tea generally has much less caffeine than coffee.

Of course, there are always exceptions. There are some coffees that have less caffeine than most teas, particularly decaf coffee. That might be an unfair comparison since decaf is a man-made product. Although, it might not be that way forever. Caffeine free coffee beans have been discovered, although they’re too bitter for most people’s taste buds.

There are also some black teas that have up to 140 mg of caffeine per 16 oz, which is more than the same size coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts (or Dunkin’ Coffee as they call it in Spain).

Dunkin Donuts - Barcelona, Spain

There are many other caffeinated beverages that are popular, how do those stack up?

Product Serving (oz) Caffeine (mg)
Jolt Energy 24 280
Red Bull 8 80
Mountain Dew 12 55
Mountain Dew Code Red 12 54
Diet Coke 12 45
Coca-Cola Classic 12 35
Sprite 12 0
7-Up 12 0

Caffeine is found in many other foods, such as chocolate. It is also found in guarana beans, which are very similar to coffee beans according to Brett’s Energy Drinks. So, be careful of those guarana filled energy drinks, caffeine is a hell of a drug.

Thanks to Kristen for suggesting this one and Ian for adding front lines insight.

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Sources: Mayo Clinic, Brett’s Energy Drinks, Energy Fiend,

July 13, 2010 at 5:00 am 17 comments

Caffeine Free Coffee Beans Discovered

In case you haven’t noticed from my video about properly pouring coffee, my various Starbucks secrets or my post about why coffee is called java, I love coffee.

I got hooked on it when a local chain started serving high fructose cappuccinos. They’re mostly sugar, but they’re also a gateway to the serious stuff: coffea arabica, the most common species of coffee bean.

As I got older, I started to notice the effects of all the caffeine. I would get headaches if I didn’t drink enough of the stuff, but I couldn’t stop drinking it entirely… I loved the taste and it was a habitual part of my day, so I switched to decaffeinated coffee. I’m not alone, decaf coffee is growing in popularity, making up 10% of the global coffee market. (more…)

March 9, 2010 at 12:43 am 5 comments

Starbucks Drink ID Codes

By Chad Upton | Editor

If you’re a Starbucks customer, you’ve probably noticed the column of check boxes down the side of your cup. The boxes are labeled: Decaf, Shots, Syrup, Milk, Custom and Drink.

It’s pretty obvious these boxes are used to record your drink order. Sometimes I look at the writing in these boxes and try to match the secret codes with the options I requested. Most are pretty self explanatory, but some of the codes are not.

In fact, I didn’t even know what the entire “custom” box was for.

Today I found out. You see, I got a special delivery today. It started last week during my regular search for secrets, I had an idea. I wanted to know how easily I could get a Starbucks employee training manual. About ten minutes later I had purchased one from the used book section of Amazon. There was only one copy available.

I got it, and I’m going to share its secrets with you. (more…)

February 5, 2010 at 1:43 am 103 comments

How to Order at Starbucks

I like Starbucks.

I don’t love it the way some people do, but I can see why they make daily trips or spend their afternoons there. The big smiles and attention to detail make you feel special, like you’re the only one who orders a drink that way. It’s like being part of an exclusive club that has its own language and club houses all over the world.

Actually, I’m sitting in a Starbucks while I write this. This is the first time I have written from Starbucks, or any cafe for that matter. I thought it was important for accuracy and inspiration — wait, my London Fog is ready.

OK, I’m back.

Jamie, the barista, says “hi” (barista is Italian for “bartender”).

A London Fog is basically a latte, with an earl grey tea bag and a shot of vanilla syrup. Not every Starbucks makes this drink well, but they’re really good about taking drinks back if you don’t like them, so don’t be afraid to try something new or let them know they made a mistake.

If you’re looking for “London Fog” on the menu, it has been renamed to reduce confusion. You’ll find it labeled as “Earl Grey” under “Tea Lattes.” (more…)

January 27, 2010 at 2:26 am 34 comments

Why is Coffee Called Java?

I love coffee.

I started drinking it in college, like most people, for the caffeine boost. Over time, I got really attached to the flavor. I went through a coffee obsession phase, trying coffee from different parts of the world with different tastes and different roasting techniques.

I’m not a coffee connoisseur, but there really are coffee connoisseurs out there. Premium coffee retailers and distributors have tasting rooms where they constantly inspect and taste coffee.

They sip it, swirl it around in their mouth and then spit it out. It must meet their strict approval to make it to the stores. If you think I’m exaggerating, click here to get a taste on the Starbucks blog. They even talk about coffee that is aged 3 to 5 years before being roasted.

Aging coffee probably reminds you of something else, wine. It turns out the coffee industry is a lot like the wine industry. Experts taste coffee the way connoisseurs taste and rate wine. They also share a similar vocabulary for describing flavor notes, hints of: caramel, chocolate, nuts…etc. Wine is classified by it’s region and grape (species). Coffee is also classified by region and species.

Historians believe that coffee plants were first cultivated in Ethiopia, around the year 850. In the next 50 years, coffee seeds were taken to the Arab world. The Arabians saw a future in coffee trade and guarded the seeds closely, but a few seeds were smuggled to the Dutch. Early in the 17th century, seeds made their way to Indonesia, being planted in Sumatra, Bali and the island of Java.

Java is one of the earliest coffee plantations and still an exporter of coffee today. Calling coffee, “java” is similar to referring to wine by it’s region, such as “I’ll have a glass of Champagne.”

On a related note, check out another coffee related secret: How to Properly Pour a Cup of Coffee.

Written By: Chad Upton [Available on Kindle]

Sources: Coffee, Java Coffee, Indonesian Coffee, Coffee Bean, Champagne

January 20, 2010 at 1:47 am 8 comments

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