Starbucks' Big Mug

CEO Howard Schultz has ambitious plans for his company and the country, with a shot of jobs, java and juice

Martin Schoeller for TIME

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz

Howard Schultz knows the economy on a level that only a guy selling coffee a cup at a time could comprehend. And at the height of the financial meltdown, Starbucks looked like a company headed for the grinder. "At that time, we were on the short list of things to cut out. We were on every list," says Schultz, Starbucks' founder. There is no purchase more discretionary than a $5 latte. The company's decision to close 900 underperforming stores had a way of underlining that point.

What Schultz has figured out since stepping back into the CEO spot from chairman several...

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