The first Starbucks opened its doors across the street from Pike Place Market in Seattle in 1971. According to the company's official timeline, by 2015 there were 22,519 Starbucks locations around the world. It's a mainstay of modern culture, turning out millions of frappuccinos and other coffee-based delights each day. The green mermaid on the logo is a familiar sign to coffee lovers around the world. It's starting to feel like you can spot a Starbucks on almost every street corner, and depending on where you live, you might not be far off. But which city has the most Starbucks? You might guess it's Seattle, but the home of coffee-shop culture didn't even crack the top five. Here are the best cities to be in for Starbucks fanatics.
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Number of Starbucks: 164
The Windy City comes in at number five for most Starbucks locations. It's second only behind New York City within the United States. According to Chicago CBS Local, there are 17 Starbucks inside O'Hare International Airport alone. And Starbucks seems to have a soft spot for Chicago. It opened the first Starbucks in Chicago in 1987, making it one of the first cities to get the chain outside of Seattle, according to the company's official timeline. In 2017, they announced the opening of the world's largest Starbucks on Michigan Avenue, according to the Chicago Tribune. The 43,000-square-foot store dwarfed the previously-largest store in Shanghai, which came in at a mere 30,000 square feet. The store is part of the business' attempt to expand into small-batch roasting. Visitors can follow their carefully selected beans through the roasting process in an interactive exhibit. There will be plenty of Starbucks merchandise for sale, too.
Number of Starbucks: 246
The New Statesmen reports that thanks to nearly 250 locations, London is home to more Starbucks locations than any other city in Europe. Not every city in Europe embraces the chain like London has, though. In fact, Starbucks has had a notoriously difficult time breaking into the Italian market. Nevertheless, it's flourishing in London. And it's often the city's international visitors who head to Starbucks for breakfast or lunch. Many are familiar with the brand from back home and others seek it out due to its reputation.
The American chain competes with England's own Costa brand. Coca Cola bought Costa in 2018, according to Business Insider, setting itself up to be a competitor on the global market against the Green Goddess. The next battle of these coffee shop giants looks like it will happen in China, where Starbucks is focusing its international growth efforts. Costa currently has 459 stores in China, according to Inside Retail Asia. For now, though, there seems to be finding plenty of business within London for both chains.
No word yet on whether the Queen is a fan of the frappuccino.
Number of Starbucks: 256
Shanghai comes in at number three with 256 Starbucks locations. It also had the world's largest Starbucks until Chicago nabbed that title in 2018. But a 30,000-square-foot Starbucks is still impressive. A review for Food & Wine magazine compared the massive Starbucks to an amusement park fueled by coffee. At the location, there are interactive displays that teach visitors about the journey coffee goes on to become part of a Starbucks drink. There is also a Starbucks gift shop, coffee-themed activities, and plenty of Instagram opportunities.
There is a reason Starbucks wanted to build one of their massive flagship stores in China: it's their second-fastest-growing market after the United States. According to Bloomberg News, the chain is opening a new store in China every 15 hours. The goal is to have 6,000 locations there within the next four years, and they appear to be on track.
New York City, New York, USA
Number of Starbucks: 277
Coming in at number two in the world and number one in the United States, New York City is home to 277 Starbucks locations. According to The Atlantic, you'll find 210 of those branches in Manhattan alone. That's about six stores for every square mile. The proliferation of the chain within the city is largely due to commuters coming into Manhattan to work and those visiting the borough as tourists. Both appreciate the chain's ability to deliver high-quality, consistent food and drink quickly. Plus, the chains always offer comfortable seating with outlets to recharge electronics (while the coffee recharges your brain). But so many locations might not be a good thing. Bloomberg News wrote in 2017 that there are now so many Starbucks that they are starting to steal sales from each other. That may mean they've officially saturated the New York City market.
While the number of Starbucks in New York City is impressive, it's nearly as impressive all along the East Coast. You can travel from the Big Apple to Philadelphia without being more than 10 miles from a Starbucks, according to these maps from Quartz. So if you are a coffee lover in America, the East Coast is the place to be.
Seoul, South Korea
Number of Starbucks: 284
If you love Starbucks, then Seoul, South Korea, is the place for you. It ranks number one for cities with the most Starbucks, having 284 locations within city limits, according to World Atlas. The growth of the chain in South Korea is even more impressive when you learn that they didn't even open their first location there until 1999. The response was so impressive that the company quickly moved to open up more stores. With a current population of around 9.9 million, according to World Population Review, that's one Starbucks for every 35,000 people currently living in the capital.
So why is the chain so popular in South Korea? It appeals to both the cafe culture of the country and the style of the younger generation. According to The Korea Herald, Starbucks is now a status symbol among young professionals. It's seen as a modern tech-savvy business that delivers consistent quality and comfort. As one of the most educated countries in the world, they can't be wrong. Starbucks' success led to the company opening more than 100 stores in South Korea between 2015 and 2016, also according to The Korea Herald. It doesn't look like the success of the coffee giant is going to slow down any time soon.