Starbucks is known for selling coffee. Last year saw the java behemoth top $5.7 billion in net revenue, and with over 25,000 stores in 75 countries, it's hard to drive a city block in most American cities without passing a Starbucks location.

However, if you ask former CEO Howard Schultz about the company he took from rags to riches, he'd tell you that Starbucks doesn't sell coffee. No, in the words of Mr. Schultz, Starbucks sells "a third place between work and home." Coffee just happens to be the vehicle that connects the consumer with the experience, and it's the Starbucks baristas who play out Schultz's vision by creating a unique experience for the millions worldwide in need of a caffeine fix.

In an industry where commoditization reigns, Starbucks changed the game.

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