In 1994, Starbucks bought a chain of coffee shops called Coffee Connection from George Howell. In the deal, it also acquired the rights to the “Frappuccino” name which played no small part in making it the mammoth company it is today.Boston Magazine’s Janelle Nanos has written a fantastic profile of Howell, and she revealed some interesting things about his anti-Starbucks feelings.
Even before he sold his chain and CEO Howard Schultz changed the Frappuccino recipe, Howell hated Starbucks.
And yet, Schultz managed to pry it away from him.
“Howard Schultz was telling us he was going to take over the world,” Howell told Boston Magazine “He said that right from the start. He had a national strategy, while we had regional ones.”
Howell, who hates dark roasts, called Starbucks’ expansion a “wave of darkness,” and referred to Schultz’s brand as “Charbucks.”
He attempted to expand Coffee Connection and stop Starbucks from taking over, doubling its size in a year. He rejected Schultz’s buyout bids twice. He was offended when he found out that Schultz didn’t care about his coffee, only his real estate and capital.
It was only when Schultz told Howell that he wanted “the respect and the name and the quality” when a deal was forged. Schultz dished out $23 million and hired Howell as a “coffee consultant.”
In the end, Schultz changed the Frappuccino recipe and stopped carrying Howell’s lighter roasts. He eventually replaced the Coffee Connection signs with the Starbucks logo.
And Fraps ended up being an absolutely essential part of Starbucks’ meteoric rise.