What If The First Starbucks Had Yelp?

The scene was Seattle, the year 1971. Three young enterprising bucks named Jerry Baldwin, Gordon Bowker, and Zev Siegl opened a hip new hangout called Starbucks. This small, quality-focused roasting business took the city by storm – with an ethos that felt an awful lot like what you might enounter at Four Barrel, Stumptown, or any other boutique coffee shop today. The only real difference, as far as we can tell, is that back in 1971 there was no forum for snarky unpaid amateurs to crowd-source their establishment reviews.

What if the first Starbucks had Yelp? Imagine, if you will, a parallel universe…

(Uncommon Grounds)

9/1/71 Patty M.

BLAH. another pretentious seattle coffee joint. This one doesn’t serve skim or 1% milk… they don’t even serve COFFEE! I’m sorry, but I need coffee. Thats my prerogative. What kind of coffee joint doesn’t serve coffee?? I know you are kinda uppity, but give your paying clientele some choices here people!!

9/7/71 Dianne K.

I took my friend here from San Francisco. She lives here now but she used to be a total Peet’s fanatic. She LOVED IT! It’s easy to dismiss what you “don’t get” and label it “pretentious” but these guys seem to know what’s going on! They’ve really pushed the envelope with what they can get away with fresh, roasted, whole bean coffee (I don’t think they even grind coffee!) Love it! Minus one star for playing Grateful Dead while we were in there. Really? 

10/27/71 Peggy J.

This place is HIPPIE CENTRAL. All of the employees have mustaches or beards or long hair. They all wear ties, which I think is meant to be “ironic”. They sell “fresh roasted coffee” and talk about how “canned coffee” is bad. Ugh… So what if I like canned coffee? That’s my choice. I would’ve given this place three stars but Jerry Baldwin’s beard really freaked me out. Awkwwwward!

10/18/71 Loretta L.

Can I just say how much i dislike this place? Disclaimer: I barely drink coffee. Gross. Also the bathroom was gnarly, and it’s full of ugly awkward hippies.

11/20/71 Lyman I.

PEET’S KNOCK OFF. BUYER BEWARE. This Seattle store is trying to be like Alfred Peet in the Bay Area but there’s no way they’re ever going to top what Peet’s is doing. I guess it’s ok if you’re at the Market and you need some beans for your Chemex at home, but DO NOT MISTAKE THIS PLACE FOR THE ORIGINAL WEST COAST DARK ROASTER: PEET’S.

11/1/71 Keith C.

We drink Mocha-Java at home and have so for years and we were surprised to find that these guys really know their stuff! The servers all look like they belong in a traveling folk band – VERY Greenwich Vilalge, circa ’61. They turned us on to a Colombia roast that really blew our socks off! Thanks, Starbucks!

12/7/71 Graham C.

I popped into Starbucks on a whim. I spent some time in Guatemala during my days in the CIA and fell in love with the coffee there. I picked up a satchel of Starbucks dark roast Guatemala. It sure is good to see which coffee the country comes from instead of “100% Arabica Latin Mild”. I’ve noticed a new trend of roasters labeling coffees by country and to them I say kudos! 



  1. Celia

    2 February

    Guys and Gals, thanks for such a sweet tribute to the original owners’ Starbucks.

    • ABP

      2 February

      And to you my beautiful sister, the first employee of Starbucks.

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