bannerFranchisor Stories

Why You Can't Own a Starbucks Franchise (and What to Do Instead)

What’s behind the coffee behemoth’s decision not to franchise, and where else can you franchise for a similar ownership experience?

By Victoria CampisiStaff Writer
Updated 7:07AM 08/11/22

Despite having over 30,000 locations worldwide, Starbucks does not franchise its stores. The reason behind the decision comes directly from the coffee chain’s CEO Howard Schultz. 

“So much of what we’ve succeeded in is based on the values and culture of the company, and I never believed we could do that in the franchise system where the people weren’t working for the company,” Schultz told WNYC in 2016. 

In his book, “Pour Your Heart Into It,” Schultz described why he’s opposed to franchising, writing that he wants to have a “fanatical” level of control over his business, Insider reported. 

“If we had franchised [as some executives wanted to in the 1980s], Starbucks would have lost the common culture that made us strong,” he wrote. “We teach baristas not only how to handle the coffee properly but also how to impart to customers our passion for our products. They understand the vision and value system of the company, which is seldom the case when someone else's employees are serving Starbucks coffee."

However, in 1991, Starbucks started allowing Host Marriott to own and operate locations in airports, eventually leading to more licensed stores in hospitals, colleges and retail stores. 

If the cafe business is something you want to get into, here are five brands that you can franchise with. 


Initial Franchise Fee: $20,000

Initial Investment Range: $202,450–$418,700

Unit Count: 295-plus

BIGGBY® COFFEE opened its first location in 1995 in East Lansing, Michigan. One year later, on a handshake and $4,000, Bob Fish and Michael McFall decided to franchise the concept. Decades later, the brand has continued to expand, opening hundreds of stores in cities across the country. It has become a hit with both customers and franchisees, thanks in large part to the franchise's “commitment to genuine care.” 

Paris Baguette*

Initial Franchise Fee: $50,000

Initial Investment Range: $635,765–$1,693,600 

Unit Count: 4,000

Paris Baguette first made its way to the U.S. in 2005 and has since opened around 100 locations in markets across the country. While other bakery concepts continue to transition into full-service restaurants, Paris Baguette remains focused on its mission to become the best neighborhood bakery cafe in the world, offering a wide range of products produced on its premises daily. The company is targeting several markets in 2022 and aims to sign 150 franchise agreements and open 56 units. 

Famous Toastery

Initial Franchise Fee: $45,000

Initial Investment Range: $575,500-$999,500

Unit Count: 25-plus

In 2005, Famous Toastery opened its doors in Charlotte, North Carolina. The breakfast spot is one of the fastest-growing chains and was ranked in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise 500. The franchise serves breakfast, brunch and lunch using fresh ingredients and friendly service. 


Initial Franchise Fee: $40,000–$90,000

Initial Investment Range: $121,400–$1,700,000

Unit Count: 12,000-plus

Of course, you can always franchise with Starbucks’ most well known competitor, Dunkin’. Formerly known as Dunkin’ Donuts, the coffee chain is perhaps one of the most recognizable food and beverage franchises today, best known for its high-quality food and beverages at an affordable price. There are traditional and non-traditional locations available in markets around the U.S. 

PJ’s Coffee

Initial Franchise Fee: $35,000

Initial Investment Range: $168,900–$566,000

Unit Count: 140-plus

PJ’s Coffee is known for its 100% Arabica coffee sourced from Finca Terrerito or Augua Fresca, as well as its hand-crafted gourmet drinks. The chain originated in New Orleans in 1978 and has since expanded to other states and internationally in countries such as Vietnam and Kuwait.

Scooter’s Coffee

Initial Franchise Fee: $40,000

Initial Investment Range: $331,000–$638,000

Unit Count: 300-plus

Scooter’s Coffee’s name fits well with its mission to keep customers happy by helping them “scoot in and scoot out quickly.” The drive-thru establishment began in 1998 in Bellevue, Nebraska, and began franchising in 2001. It has built a reputation for its premium coffee and freshly made pastries. 

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.