I live in Seattle. One of the things I’ve adopted as a Seattle dweller is a wee bit of coffee snobbery. I like craft, local coffee roasters that don’t over burn their beans. So my dislike of Starbucks coffee is pretty high. I go to coffee shops to drink coffee, not coffee related drinks with 4 pumps of mocha-lappa-chocolatta-carmelita with extra foam. (See, coffee snobbery) Though there are two exceptions for me – the nitro cold brew and their small lot coffee that they serve in the roastery or in the Reserve stores are pretty decent, though they are a bit over priced. All that to say, I’m not a lover of Starbucks coffee.
Despite my lack of love of their coffee offerings, I’ve long respected their commitment to quality control. Whether you like it or think it tastes like boiled paper bag ashes, Starbucks tastes the same everywhere you go. You can go to the “original” store in Pike Place Market or the Starbucks in Jonesboro, AR – it tastes the same. That’s amazing to me. But its been their latest move that earned my respect on a much deeper level.
By now you’ve seen what’s happened with the two Black gentlemen being arrested in the Philadelphia area Starbucks for waiting for a friend for 2 whole minutes. One thing (of the many) Starbucks has done in response is to close 8,000 stores and hold a diversity training for it’s employees. Some people looking on think its a PR move and they are pandering. If you talk to employees in their corporate locations, you’ll hear a different tune. But whether or not you think its genuine, their chosen path of action is incredible. Its incredible both for what they did and what they didn’t do.
Starbucks does a LOT of good that largely goes unreported in large part due to them not putting out a press release for all they do. Honestly, I only know of some of the stuff they do because I either volunteered at an event or a corporate employee told me. Its amazing all the things they do. And when this ordeal in Philadelphia went down, they could’ve went on a PR spree highlighting all the work they do both here in America and abroad. They could’ve defended their record with their philanthropy, economic drivers, the things they do for the poor, the refugees, and more. They could’ve regained their lost title of “St. Arbucks” for all of the saintly work they do. They could’ve defended their integrity by highlighting their record. That’s what I would’ve done. Its what you would’ve done. “You think I’m racist? You think I’m self serving? Let me show you all the ways I’m not any of those things! Meet my minority friends. See all the money I give away. See all of my volunteer hours. See my foster care record. Look at my adopted kids. Check my 4H Club card.” We would’ve defended our record in the face of intense public scrutiny.
But they didn’t.
They didn’t remind us of how good they are and why we should just call this an isolated incident. Instead, they addressed the issue at hand and took it head on. All of the times they got it right didn’t matter, they got THIS one wrong and they wanted to deal with THIS one. No defense of their honor. No reminder of their record. None of that. They saw this situation, said we got this one wrong and moved to address it.
There’s a lot for us learn from that example. And for me, there’s a lot to respect in that example.