‘By us and for us:’ New Starbucks merch inspired by LGBTQ+ community 


When muralist and illustrator artist Sofie Birkin first began to sketch her designs for the new collection of Starbucks drinkware through the Artist Collaboration program, she wanted to create moments that feel both genuine and relatable. “I’m a queer artist, and I like to make things that feel very empowering and democratic to a wide breadth of people,” Birkin said. “I hope people will see it and immediately recognize that this is by us and for us.”

“I really like to illustrate human connection. The unifying theme is that I just really like to show the ways that people are with each other.”

Birkin’s collection is the latest offering in Starbucks Artist Collaboration program, which celebrates and elevates the voices and stories of artists from around the world. Her hot and cold tumblers will be available in Starbucks stores in the United States and Canada starting May 28, while supplies last.

She often creates meaningful moments with LGBTQIA2+ (also known as 2LSBGTQI+ in Canada) characters in her work, which includes an immersive installation at Denver’s Meow Wolf Convergence Station and the U.K. Royal Mail’s first collection of Pride stamps. “I really like to illustrate human connection,” Birkin said. “The unifying theme is that I just really like to show the ways that people are with each other.” 

She also brings a love of color and kitsch to her collection. “My house is filled with tiny, delightful things,” she said. “I like to create something that someone can hold and enjoy every time they look at it. I hope the collection can bring a little bit of that to people.” 

The first piece Birkin designed was the collection’s colorful 24-ounce stainless steel cold cup, depicting a Pride march with a waving rainbow flag and a swirling pink and red straw. “It's a really important time to talk about our history and about protest and how far we've come but how far we still have to go,” Birkin said. “This is celebratory, but it’s celebratory in a way that is a conversation between friends.” 

Birkin’s 16-ounce stainless steel tumbler offers a still-life moment, with sentimental little objects you might find tucked into a backpack or pocket over the decades – sunglasses, instant photos, lip balm, astrology pins, a sew-on patch and gummy bears. “I really love to work with nostalgia,” Birkin said. “I like to create things where you’re not entirely sure what year it is.” 

The 24-ounce studded plastic cold cup tumbler features a double rainbow – with both a vibrant spectrum of color on the cup’s exterior and a swirly rainbow straw on top. Birkin’s playful cupid on the back adds a touch of whimsy to the design. “I’m just such a romantic,” she said. “I love that kind of thing.”  

A well-loved water bottle covered in stickers was the inspiration for this 16-ounce plastic tumbler (in U.S. stores only) with Pride flags, sunglasses, a rainbow, flowers and an adorable dog wearing a bandana. “I had a lot of fun with this one, I was thinking about Pride season and that time of year,” Birkin said. “It feels really joyful and fun and exciting to me.” 

Building a culture of inclusion 

Since the beginning, Starbucks partners (employees) have informed and inspired our allyship with the LGBTQIA2+ community. Starbucks is proud to support and celebrate LGBTQIA2+ partners and communities every day – from offering inclusive health coverage, to partner-inspired community investments, to advocating in support of civil rights and equality. The company also works with non-profit organizations to provide resources to partners and support allyship and has awarded more than $1.5 million from The Starbucks Foundation in the United States and Canada since 2019 to support LGBTQIA2+ organizations. 

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Starbucks Hot Java Cool Jazz is a testament to the value of the arts