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How to Become a Starbucks Licensee

by Clayton Browne, studioD

Coffee has been a popular beverage in some countries for centuries, but the mass popularity of coffee has grown dramatically worldwide in the 21st century. Major coffee shop chains such as Starbucks are leading the way with international expansion. Starbucks doesn't franchise its stores, but it does offer select retail applicants a license to operate a Starbucks outlet.

Decide on which of your retail locations you want to pick to apply for a Starbucks license. Starbucks is highly selective regarding locations for licensing stores, so make sure you choose a busy, high-traffic location that is likely to attract many walk-in customers.

Go to the Starbucks website and complete the application for a licensed store. Starbucks does not publicly release its criteria for evaluating applicants for licensed stores. But the large majority of its licensees are in airports, on college and university campuses, or in the outlets of large retail chains such as Safeway, Target, Marriott Hotels and Barnes & Noble. Make sure your proposed location is comparable to these.

Follow up with Starbucks if you have not heard anything regarding your application in a few weeks. Starbucks does not specify a time frame within which to expect a reply, but it is a good idea to be proactive if you have not heard anything within three or four weeks. Start with a follow-up email message to the "Company Information" link under "Contact Us," and then call if you do not receive a reply within two or three days.


  • Prepare your personal and business records for a close inspection by Starbucks auditors. A thorough vetting of your personal and business background is part of the Starbucks licensing application process.

About the Author

Clayton Browne has been writing professionally since 1994. He has written and edited everything from science fiction to semiconductor patents to dissertations in linguistics, having worked for Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Steck-Vaughn and The Psychological Corp. Browne has a Master of Science in linguistic anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

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