☕ Coffee Journey - Apron

Welcome to my Coffee Journey. This post is part of the 2022's A - Z Blogging Challenge as well as the Ultimate Blog Challenge. 

So before you begin to read, grab yourself a cup of coffee and get into the mood!

As stated in my reveal post, this year is dedicated to all things (Starbucks) Coffee. One of the first things you may notice as you enter the store as a customer, is that everyone is wearing the iconic green apron. 

Everybody except the person who's wearing the black apron, that is.

What's the significance of the black apron? Is it like in martial arts? The darker, the stronger or more experienced? 

Sort of.

Black aprons are awarded to Starbucks partners (employees) who achieved Coffee Master level by studying and applying any coffee related topic: coffee cultivation, harvesting, roasting, preparing and tasting. 

During my tenure it was my team's responsibility to roll out the Coffee Master program, and being a good role model, I went ahead and participated in the process every single year. 

After all that time, a friend invited me to her presentation last spring. You may read about it here.

Once you've passed the entire procedure, you're given the black apron to wear and to cherish.

What about the red aprons?

These are being worn during the holidays. I look forward to the returning of the red aprons - and cups - every November. I won't be able to avoid talking more about the merry season in some of the upcoming posts.

On rare occasions you may even spot a pink apron. 

Happened to me one year for Valentine's Day, and another time in summer. I found out it was related to a Flamingo Frappuccino promotion.

Back to the classic green apron though. The term green apron has a special meaning that is related to the corporate culture.

Let me explain.

Any company in the retail and / or gastronomy sector is used to getting countless messages from customers. Most are complaints. 

  • "The barista told me they were out of (insert ingredient or product), this is unacceptable."
  • "Why can't I pay, using my Twint App"? (Twint has become increasingly popular means of electronic payment in Switzerland. Even more so during the pandemic.)
  • "I want (insert beverage that is not available in our market). But I saw it on Tik Tok!!!"

Luckily, Starbucks' customer service people also receive positive feedback, and they made it a point to share the respective messages with the stores and people. Over time they noticed the behavior the customers described, included the same qualities over and over. Friendly, helpful, caring, competent, cheerful,...

They started to collect and categorize the attributes, and they got to thinking:  if these traits make our customers happy, we should make sure that all of our baristas exhibit these behaviors. Together with HR, the "Green Apron Behaviors" were developed, and training materials were rolled out. 

Now if you're an unhappy, grumpy person, you probably can't be trained to be bubbly and a joy to be around. Over time, though, hiring managers started to look for these behaviors in potential new employees.

For existing partners it became an appreciation program. They awarded each other "Green Apron Cards" when they observed a colleague exhibiting the respective quality!

What were they?

  • Be WelcomingOffer everyone a sense of belonging.  What goes around, comes around. If you greet your customers as if they were long lost friends, they can’t help but smile back, right?
  • Be Genuine – Connect. Respond. Discover – Connect with the customer to figure out how to best deliver what he or she wants.  
  • Be Involved – Connect with one another, with the company, and with the community.  Starbucks offers lots of opportunities to get involved.  It’s a great altruistic goal.  Both customers and partners can look for volunteering projects to get involved with. 
  • Be Knowledgeable – Love what you do, and share it with others.  It always helps to know your job well. In today’s fast paced world, there are constant changes that require a person to be flexible and keep on top of products and procedures.
  • Be Considerate – Take care of yourself, each other, and the environment. 

More about the mission statement and the corporate culture later this month. 

Are you a Starbucks customer? Can you actually observe that the baristas who serve you display these characteristics?

Let me know in the comments below and make sure to come back tomorrow. 

Head over here for more Ultimate Blog Challenge or Blogging from A to Z Challenge posts.


  1. Oh this is going to be fun! Looking forward to reading what you have all month!

  2. I go to Starbucks -- more during the cooler seasons. I didn't know about the black apron issue. That is very cool! Thanks for sharing!

  3. This is great advice for anyone who deals with customers. It's fun to find out what the different colors mean and I'm looking forward to the next post!

  4. My son and I had to go to Starbucks to check on the aprons! They've been wearing hoodies because of the cold, so I didn't think they wore aprons. Today I could see they do. Thanks for getting me out to Starbucks! Maybe future letter posts will need a visit too! I wish Starbucks had more sugar-free options than just vanilla syrup.

  5. Very interesting about aprons. Green suits you. I don't drink coffee much these days. Drank too much when I was a nurse. I've been to Starbucks maybe once. :-)

  6. Interesting on the aprons... I'll admit I'm not a Starbuck regular as the coffee is too strong for me, but I do like the peppermint mocha I'd get near the holidays. One time after discovering they use the stronger coffee in it, I ordered it with reg. coffee... I didn't like it. Go Figure! I'm also in the A to Z this year, my 7th year.

  7. Glad to connect back with you during another April Challenge.
    I didn't know about this story about the colour behind the aprons.
    Quite an informative post.
    Looking forward to your posts.

  8. Our daughter was a Barista at Starbucks for about 6 years, the last year of high school and 3 of the four years in college plus a bit after she graduated. She does have all those qualities :). I believe she may even have a green apron or two left. LOL.

  9. I love that your AtoZ Challenge theme is COFFEE! I had considered that as a theme, but I'm so, so glad to see that you're doing it. Looking forward to catching up on your posts. Thanks, Tamara!


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