What social issues will Starbucks tackle next?

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Encouraged by the overwhelming social media response to the suggestion that baristas engage customers in a dialogue about race relations, Starbucks stores across the nation are responding by removing the stickers and branding from coffee cups.  CEO Howard Schultz recently unveiled plans to tackle other polarizing issues that have divided the country. As part of its new campaign, Starbucks Fresh Start®: Finding Common Ground Over Common Grounds, baristas are encouraged to use the following conversation-starters:

If the customer requests a Triple Venti Half-Sweet Non-Fat Caramel Macchiato Upside Down with Extra Caramel, raise a fist in the air and reply, "Sí, se puede!" If there are eight or fewer customers in line, repeat "Sí, se puede!" louder, until all baristas take part. Continue until someone mentions unionizing.


If the customer appears to be of Latin@ descent and under age 25, move closer when you accept the My Starbucks Rewards® card and, in a confidential tone, say, "When you stop and think about it, we're all dreamers deep down inside."

If the customer is a white woman under age 37, ask if she has leaned in today.

If the customer appears pregnant, inquire whether she has given any thought to the future of Mother Earth. Remind her that water is almost as precious as Starbucks Reserve® Ethiopia Konga.

[FOR CERTAIN ZIP CODES ONLY; SEE ATTACHED LIST] If the customer has children under the age of 5 in tow, offer a free Starbucks® Reusable Cup Sleeve printed with the CDC's "Facts for Parents: Diseases & the Vaccines that Prevent Them" on the inside.

If the customer is a child, make eye contact with the next customer.

If the customer is a white male under the age of 35 and has a lumbersexual beard, inquire whether it's true that hop enthusiasts are ruining beer for the masses.

If the customer is a Millennial, ask if he or she has considered what will happen when Social Security runs out of money in 2035. Wait for reaction. Then note that according to the 2013 Social Security trustees report, the tax income would be enough to cover about 72 percent of scheduled benefits through 2087. [Bonus for working in, gently: “You just got punked!”]

If the customer is a woman under age 46, ask how comfortable she is with the reproductive care choices in her area. Refer her to the nearest Planned Parenthood clinic and share your "1 in X women" story, however applicable.


If the customer is a non-Hispanic cis white male who appears uncertain about what to order, ask what Starbucks can do to make him more comfortable with the “diversity of choices.”

[FOR CERTAIN STATES ONLY; SEE ATTACHED LIST] If the customer is in a same-sex relationship, offer congratulations and inquire when the wedding will be. Mention that Starbucks Tribute Blend® K-Cup® Packs make great table favors and are environmentally sound.


If a female customer age 30 inquires if this Starbucks serves wine, ask, “Carrie Mathison, Alicia Florrick or Olivia Pope?” Direct her to the Starbucks Reclaimed® communal table discussion on "Unbreakable Glass(es): The Golden Age of TV Heroines Coping by Drinking Mostly Red but Occasionally White Wine.”

If the customer's gender is not immediately clear (according to your own standards and experiences), move closer when you accept the My Starbucks Rewards® card and, in a confident tone, say, “It took a lot to come out to colleagues as a tea drinker.”


If the customer is a white woman under age 37 and admits she didn’t lean in, refer her to the Impostor Syndrome entry on Geek Feminism Wiki. Place an IMPOSTOR sticker on her My Starbucks Rewards® card as a reminder.

If the customer is a Person of Faith*, ask the customer to complete the sentence: “A priest, a rabbi and an imam walk into a bar …”
*Feel free to use your best judgement in determining which faith and level of devotion.


If the customer uses a wheelchair or other assistive device, do not ask the customer anything; doing so could seem intrusive and inappropriate.

Christine Cupaiuolo is a writer and editor in Chicago.