Starbucks announces the return of the Coffee Master program for retail partners in North America. The program recognizes partners and celebrates their coffee passion as a symbol of Starbucks ongoing commitment to ensuring a sustainable future of high-quality coffee.
Starbucks partners’ passion and knowledge about coffee is one of the many things that sets the company apart, drives connection and makes the Starbucks Experience spark joy. Nearly 20 years ago, Starbucks introduced the Coffee Master program and black aprons as a special designation for partners around the world who are experts in coffee knowledge.
In his first 30 days back as CEO, Howard Schultz and senior leaders have met with partners all around the country in collaboration sessions to co-create the future of Starbucks together. One piece of feedback has been clear: becoming a Coffee Master and receiving a black apron was one of the coolest parts of being a barista at Starbucks. It continues to be a source of pride for partners to visually showcase their knowledge and skill.
In response, and in celebration of partners’ coffee passion, Starbucks is bringing the Coffee Master program and black aprons back to North America. In addition, partners who become a Coffee Master will have the chance to be selected for a trip to origin – or “the first 10 feet” of the bean to cup journey – specifically, Starbucks coffee farm, Hacienda Alsacia, in Costa Rica.
The story of Starbucks aprons
From the iconic green to black for Coffee Masters, the Starbucks apron has become a way to celebrate events and milestones and recognize partner contributions.
The apron was a part of Starbucks from the first day it opened its doors in Seattle’s Pike Place Market in 1971. Partners wore simple brown grocer’s aprons – the same shade as the original Siren logo and the whole bean coffee they weighed and scooped each day.
In 1987, Starbucks partners began wearing aprons in the now-iconic Starbucks green and updated with the company’s new logo. Now, in more than 80 markets around the world, nearly 400,000 Starbucks partners embrace the green apron as a symbol of Starbucks mission to inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.
Black aprons will be worn by Coffee Masters – eligible partners who complete Starbucks Coffee Academy. Launched in 2019 and developed to open-source coffee knowledge, Coffee Academy is available in 60 countries with more than 180,000 course enrollments to date – both Starbucks partners and customers – building their love, passion and knowledge of coffee together.
Partners wear red aprons to celebrate the arrival of red cups and the holiday season.
Veterans and military spouse aprons
Special embroidered aprons with an American flag celebrate Veterans and Military Spouses.
Starbucks College Achievement Plan grad aprons
Graduates of the Starbucks College Achievement Plan receive a green apron embroidered with a mortarboard.
Signing store aprons
Partners at Starbucks signing stores globally wear aprons with the word “Starbucks” embroidered in sign language.
A rainbow of aprons
Other colorful variations have also popped up over the years, like orange aprons in the Netherlands to celebrate King’s Day, pale blue aprons for the launch of Frappuccino Happy Hour, and even a rare purple apron for barista champions.