5 Things You Didn’t Know About Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz

03/18/2015 at 05:42 PM ET

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks
Spencer Heyfron/Redux

You’re likely very (very) familiar with Starbucks’ coffee—but how well do you know the people behind the famous green and white cup?

For one, the CEO of the coffee powerhouse Howard Schultz went from growing up in a Brooklyn housing project to turning a small chain of Seattle coffee stores into a billion dollar business.

In addition to his real-life American Dream story, Schultz sat down with PEOPLE to discuss his involvement in the hot-topic campaign “Race Together,” which encourages customers and baristas to engage in discussions about race—and five other things you might not know about him.

1. He didn’t like his first taste of coffee. “My mom used to have this percolator—which, by the way, makes terrible coffee,” he says. “When company was coming over, she’d take out the percolator. I remember the smell of it was so extraordinary. She gave me a taste and it didn’t taste very good. I was probably under 10 years old at the time.”

2. He drinks about 5 cups a day. “I make a French press of coffee in the morning for my wife and me. Then I have a doppio [double-shot] espresso macchiato at a Starbucks store on the way to work. I try not to have coffee after 5 p.m.”

3. He plays favorites — with beans. His go-to coffee is Aged Sumatra, which is full-bodied, sweet and has notes of cedar and sweet black licorice.

4. He once hated his job. “In high school, I worked at a furrier. And I was stretching skins in a fox furrier with my hands. That was a bad job,” he says.

5. He connects with people from his hometown. Schultz grew up in the housing projects of Canarsie, Brooklyn. While serving coffee to customers at a Starbucks in New York, Schultz began chatting with customer Keon Lammy, 18, who hails from the same neighborhood. He offered him a job and Lammy started working there three days later. “Now, he’s a part of a family,” Schultz says. “He belongs to something.”

To read more about Howard Schultz’ ‘My American Dream,’ pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

—Elaine Aradillas, @elaineja

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Lyn on

Is it true that Starbucks has 600 stores in Muslim countries but pulled out of Israel n 2003 and are people boycotting them because of that?

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