Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has plenty of options to choose from when planning his global company's next focus for growth—coffee, tea, mobile payments? The answer might surprise people, Schultz told CNBC on Tuesday.
"Starbucks is still the core business and I think the growth vehicle for the company," Schultz said on "Squawk on the Street." "People will be surprised how many stores we're going to be able to open."
Schultz was named No. 14 on CNBC's First 25 list, a compilation of men and women who left the largest impression on business and finance since CNBC first aired in 1989. The Brooklyn native made Starbucks a massive global brand similar to McDonald's, creating a $15 billion market for specialty coffee just in the U.S. The coffee company's rapid expansion made Schultz a billionaire.
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How we chose the names
Starbucks now runs 19,000 stores in 60 countries, and Schultz plans a big push into the tea market. In a recent CNBC interview, Schultz valued the global tea market at $90 billion. On Tuesday, the day Starbucks' Teavana tea shops began selling chai tea under the Oprah Winfrey brand, Schultz said he plans to open 1,000 tea stores.
The longtime Starbucks CEO stepped down from the company in 2000 only to return in 2008, when competition from rivals picked up and the Great Recession cut down on latte spending. Starbucks' share prices suffered deep declines before Schultz returned to his company.
"In 2008 the whole world was against us, and we said we're going to show up and we're going to show up every day," Schultz said.