Starbucks Coffee Company (Nasdaq:SBUX) announced today its entry into continental Europe. Starbucks Coffee International and Passaggio Holding Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Bon appetit Group, have signed a joint venture agreement to develop Starbucks retail stores in Switzerland.

The joint venture company, Swiss-Star Limited, plans to open Starbucks retail locations in Zurich by early next year. Switzerland represents Starbucks 20th international market.

Starbucks plans to open stores in at least six European markets in the next 12 to 24 months and has previously announced a target of opening 500 stores in Europe by the end of 2003. In addition, the company has recently appointed Mark McKeon to the position of president, Starbucks Europe, Middle East and Africa. He will establish a Starbucks regional office in continental Europe by early next year.

"Switzerland serves as an excellent entry point for Starbucks into continental Europe," said Peter Maslen, president of Starbucks Coffee International. "Our joint venture with Passagio Holding Limited is a significant step towards our planned and strategic expansion into continental Europe. We are excited to work with such an outstanding partner, Passaggio Holding Limited, in Switzerland as both our companies share the same uncompromising commitment to quality products and excellent customer service."

Since opening its first store in London on September 17, 1998, Starbucks has rapidly strengthened its brand presence and gained market acceptance in the United Kingdom. As of today, Starbucks has opened more than 150 stores in the United Kingdom. While continental Europe represents a major strategic opportunity for Starbucks to achieve its goal of creating a global brand, the United Kingdom remains an important market for Starbucks and will continue to serve as the company's platform into continental Europe.

"I am incredibly optimistic about the tremendous opportunities for Starbucks in continental Europe," said Howard Schultz, chairman and chief global strategist of Starbucks Coffee Company. "Our successful entry in the United Kingdom has not only provided us with the momentum to expand into continental Europe, but it has established Starbucks as a global brand in the marketplace.

"I believe the extraordinary reception that Starbucks has received in all our international markets is a strong indication that the Starbucks Experience and the excitement for the brand will be embraced by the people of Europe," added Schultz. "Continental Europe, with its vibrant cafe culture and rich coffee heritage, is a natural home for Starbucks. We are well on our way to achieving our goal of building an enduring global brand."

"Switzerland welcomes the Starbucks Experience," said Peter Herzog, ceo of Passaggio Holding Limited. "We share the enthusiasm of our Starbucks partners in bringing to Switzerland the highest quality of coffee along with the warmth of Starbucks unique and special 'Third Place' coffee experience. I am confident that Starbucks will easily become the market leader as the brand is highly respected and has a global appeal."

Passaggio (www.passaggio.ch) Holding Limited, a Bon appetit Group company, is one of the largest catering companies in Switzerland, focusing its services on freeways, trains, airports, ships and in train stations, shopping malls and city centers. Its retail concepts include restaurants, snack bars, and cafes. Bon appetit Group (www.bon-appetit.ch) is Switzerland's leading listed company in the food trade. It was created in mid-1999 through the merger of Bon appetit Holding Ltd (wholesale catering and travel catering) and Usego Hofer Curti Ltd (wholesale and retail trade). Bon appetit Group also engages in e-commerce with stakes in net-tissimo.com and Le-Shop.ch.

Starbucks Coffee Company is the leading retailer, roaster and brand of specialty coffee in the world. In addition to its more than 3,000 retail locations in North America, the United Kingdom, the Pacific Rim and the Middle East, Starbucks sells coffee and tea products through its specialty operations, including its online store at Starbucks.com. Additionally Starbucks produces and sells bottled Frappuccino(R) coffee drink and a line of superpremium ice creams through its joint venture partnerships and offers a line of innovative premium teas produced by its wholly owned subsidiary, Tazo Tea Company.