The coveted Starbucks Coffee Master black aprons return

Starbucks military apron with American flag embroidery, black Coffee Master apron, green apron and red holiday apron

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. 

“My partners want the black apron or something similar to come back and recognize partners that are passionate around coffee.”

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.

“The black apron is what makes it so fun and exciting for our partners! I remember when I first started working at Starbucks as a barista, the first thing set on my mind was learning everything I could about coffee so I can wear the black apron. And let me tell you, when I completed the coffee master program and finally got my black apron, it was the best feeling in the world.”

Green aprons

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

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.

“Some sort of certification process with a black apron would be phenomenal”

Red aprons

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.

"Black aprons are a must!! #bringbackblackapron. The ROI I see in my store is that my partners that have taken the time to expand their coffee knowledge and earn their black apron are the ones that stay with us the longest."