Image: Starbucks cups
AP
Starbucks is unveiling its updated logo as part of its 40th birthday bash.
Alison
By Allison Linn Senior writer
msnbc.com
updated 3/8/2011 3:43:52 PM ET 2011-03-08T20:43:52

Starbucks is turning 40, and like many age-conscious folks out there, it's getting a face lift.

The coffee behemoth is using the occasion of its 40th birthday to roll out its new logo, a simplified version of the familiar siren that no longer includes the words “Starbucks Coffee” on it.

The new design will now featured on cups and merchandise and will be seen at stores in Beijing, Paris, London and New York.

As we get older, we need to be more careful about what we eat. That might be why Starbucks also used the occasion of the big 4-0 to launch its line of “Starbucks Petites.” The “new global food platform” includes micro-sized sweet treats such as "cake pops," mini-cupcakes and whoopee pies.

The company will be giving away samples of the new treats to anyone who buys a drink from 2-5 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

As part of its birthday bash, Starbucks also is launching a new coffee blend called Tribute, which comes in bean as well as instant form.

In a release announcing Tribute — that’s a tribute to you, the customer, by the way — Starbucks notes that in four decades it has “helped people everywhere say goodbye to a bland, watery cuppa joe and hello to a darker, richer, everyday taste experience. We resurrected the art of pulling the perfect shot. We even invented a new (as in triple-Venti-nonfat-extra-foam-latté) language.”

Love 'em or hate 'em, Starbucks' vast influence cannot be denied.

Starbucks' familiar — and now tweaked — logo has in the past four decades become as ubiquitous the world over as, well, the latte it has popularized.

At the height of Starbucks' building boom, it wasn't that uncommon to find one Starbucks in sight of another. On at least one occasion the company opened two Starbucks stores in the same building .

The company also spawned a host of imitators and competitors, ranging from small coffee chains to fast-food titans like McDonald's, which now also serves frothy coffee concoctions.

The recession of 2007-09 proved to be the company’s first true rough patch, as a combination of overexpansion and weak economic conditions forced Starbucks to regroup. The painful period included closing stores, laying off employees and pulling back on farflung expansion efforts like movie deals.

These days, however, Starbucks is getting back on its feet. That's thanks to a combination of factors, including luring people around the world back into stores for the affordable luxury of a $4 coffee drink and the ambitious launch of a new line of instant coffee, called Via.

That’s apparently got the company thinking expansion again. In an interview with USA Today, company CEO Howard Schultz said Starbucks was again looking at what else it could sell besides coffee. Although he was mum on details, he did say what category intrigued him most: “Health and wellness.”

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Video: Starbucks Turns 40

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