Would a cup of “Pee-kwod” appeal to anyone?

Friday, July 21st, 2023

When I was a kid, Starbuck was the name of a cocky fighter pilot in the original Battlestar Galactica. It was a fanciful, sci-if name, like Skywalker. Somewhere along the way I picked up that it was a real name, but it was still surprising to see a coffee-shop chain of the same name (but with a non-apostrophe s):

In 1971, our founders got together with artist Terry Heckler to define their new brand. They wanted the company’s name to suggest a sense of adventure, a connection to the Northwest and a link to the seafaring tradition of the early coffee traders. Co-founder Gordon Bowker, a writer, initially proposed calling the company “Pequod,” after the ship in Herman Melville‘s classic novel “Moby-Dick.” But Terry objected – would a cup of “Pee-kwod” appeal to anyone?

The brainstorming continued. While researching names of mining camps on Mt. Rainier, one of the best known landmarks near Seattle, Terry came across “Starbo,” which eventually led the team back to where they’d started. In “Moby-Dick,” the name of the first mate on the Pequod was, you guessed it, Starbuck. A brand was born.

I somehow forgot the name of the first mate on the Pequod. It turns out Starbuck is the name of a prominent real-life whaling family.


  1. Jim says:

    Starbucks is named after Starbuck? Sheesh, for real.

  2. Michael van der Riet says:

    Is this esoteric or encyclopedic? Either way it’s the kind of thing that keeps me coming back here.

Leave a Reply