Starbucks Coffee was almost called "Cargo House."
Source: Original photo by Hans Vivek/ Unsplash
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Starbucks Coffee was almost called "Cargo House."

The world’s largest coffeehouse chain, Starbucks, almost had a very different name. According to a 2008 Seattle Times interview with the company’s co-founder Gordon Bowker, the famous java chain was once “desperately close” to being called “Cargo House,” a name meant to tie the first store (in Seattle’s Pike Place Market) to the idea of beans coming from far away. Anxious for another, more pleasing moniker, a brand consultant working with Bowker mentioned that words starting with “st” felt especially strong. Bowker ran with the idea, listing every “st” word he could think of. The breakthrough moment occurred after the consultant brought out some old maps of the Cascade mountains and Mount Rainier — both close to the company’s hometown of Seattle — and Bowker stumbled across an old mining town named “Starbo.” The name lit up a literary reference embedded in his mind: Starbuck. 

The musician Moby is related to Herman Melville, the author of “Moby-Dick.”
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Incorrect.
It's a Fact
Born Richard Melville Hall but nicknamed “Moby” as a baby, the musician says he’s the great-great-great nephew of author Herman Melville. In 2016, Moby followed in his ancestor’s publishing footsteps and came out with a memoir titled “Porcelain.” He has since released a second memoir.

The name comes from Herman Melville’s 1851 masterpiece Moby-Dick; or, The Whale. In the novel, Starbuck is a Quaker and trusty first mate of Captain Ahab, and serves as the voice of reason aboard the whaling ship Pequod (another name the Starbucks co-founders considered). Melville himself likely got the name Starbuck from a real whaling family that lived on the Massachusetts island of Nantucket in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Bowker readily admits that the character has nothing to do with coffee, but the moniker stuck, and the company doubled down on the nautical theme by introducing a mythological siren, likely influenced by a seventh-century Italian mosaic, as its now-famous green-and-white logo.

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Numbers Don’t Lie
Year of the whale attack on the ship Essex, which later inspired “Moby-Dick”
1820
Percent of Americans who drink coffee every day
62
Number of copies of “Moby-Dick” sold in Herman Melville’s lifetime
3,715
Premiere year of “Battlestar Galactica,” starring Dirk Benedict as Lieutenant Starbuck
1978
In Homer’s “The Odyssey,” the siren has the head of a woman and the body of a _______.
In Homer’s “The Odyssey,” the siren has the head of a woman and the body of a bird.
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Think Twice
Coffee beans are not actually beans.

Two types of flowering shrubs from the family Rubiaceae, Coffea robusta and Coffea arabica, make up most of the coffee consumed in the world. These plants produce a sweet, reddish-yellow cherry-like fruit, and its seeds or pits — when roasted from light to dark — make the coffee beverage we know and love today. However, calling these seeds “beans” is a misnomer, since a “bean” technically refers to an edible seed from the plant family Fabaceae (also called Leguminosae), which includes foods such as soybeans, peas, chickpeas, and peanuts. Coffee seeds look much like a typical bean, but from a strict botanical perspective, they’re not. In fact, since coffee cherries are fruits, you might argue that your usual cup of joe has more in common with a smoothie than any sort of legume-heavy delicacy.

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