☕ Coffee Journey - Mission Statement

Welcome back to another episode of my coffee journey. Today we're talking about Starbucks Coffee's mission statement. 

Let me start by saying that I have never worked for a company where the mission statement was communicated to the employees and put into practice the way SBUX does. 

To me, a mission statement was a bunch of nice words that some PR department put together for the glossy corporate brochures. And I have always been working in Human Resources, so I should know if there were guiding principles to be be instilled in every single person working for the company!?

Just for the fun of it I consulted some of my former employers' websites to find out what theirs was. I found statements like doing normal things in an extraordinary way and provide quality air transport services that connect Switzerland with Europe and the world. 

So when I joined Starbucks, their mission statement was 

To establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffees in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles as we grow:

  • Provide a great work environment and treat each other with respect and dignity.
  • Embrace diversity as an essential component in the way we do business.
  • Apply the highest standards of excellence to the purchasing, roasting and fresh delivery of our coffee.
  • Develop enthusiastically satisfied customers all of the time.
  • Contribute positively to our communities and our environment.
  • Recognize that profitability is essential to our future success. 

Not an easy thing to do, that's for sure. 

How did we implement these guiding principles, and more importantly, how did we keep them alive and relevant? 

We talked about them a lot, starting with job orientation. Every new hire would come to our support center (HQ) for two days, during which they would learn about Starbucks' history, do coffee tastings, understand health and safety standards, and learn the basics about growing, producing and preparing coffee. 

In a growing and challenging market, these principles often turned out to be conflicting, here's a simple example that comes to mind:

Back then we sold Tazo Brambleberry Iced Tea. It was a delicious beverage, actually my favorite, considering I was just getting started to exploring coffee. 

This product came in 13.8 oz glass bottles. From the U.S. Not sure if by ship or airplane. Either way, not very environmentally friendly. What's more, Starbucks, being an American company, did not have any operational standards in place when it came to getting rid of these bottles. So they were thrown in the trash.

Let me tell you: in Switzerland we have been recycling for decades. Many expats who live here jokingly say we are the world recycling champions. So our store partners were kind of shocked to discover that there weren't any bins and pick-up services in place, and none of the executives seemed to care. 

Some of the partners collected the bottles in their locker and took them to a recycling station on their way home. That way they followed the guiding principles not only by contributing positively to the environment, but also to the bottom line, since trash collection is expensive in Switzerland. 

Private households need to put a sticker on each 30 liter (8 gallon) trash bag. A sticker in my community costs CHF 3, that's currently USD 3.19, now imagine all the paper cups that are being thrown away in a store on a daily basis. Add to that the heavy and voluminous glass bottles!

I can't remember what year the Brambleberry Iced Tea disappeared from our stores, but it did. Too bad for a tasty beverage, but the right thing to do. 

Another thing disappeared from Starbucks: the initial mission statement was replaced by: 

To inspire and nurture the human spirit - one cup, one person, and one neighborhood at a time. 

It was complemented by the new guiding principles: 

Why was it changed?

I can only speculate. My guess is the original mission was accomplished, SBUX had become the premium purveyor of the finest coffees, and while the core values stayed the same, the direction had to become more "experience oriented"?

People want more than a delicious cup of coffee - they want to be inspired.

I can get behind that, and I think the third place (watch out for my post - to be published April 23) contributes a great deal to inspiring customers. 

What do you think? Are you inspired by a cup of coffee, served by a friendly barista and enjoyed in a relaxing environment? 

Before you leave, would you please do me a favor?

I've been participating in a monthly writing challenge for over eight years, and today's post is about my son's career day that I happened to be part of by accident. Does he want to become a coffee farmer? Find out for yourself.

Thank you - see you tomorrow!


  1. It's very inspiring to read the second mission statement. Yes every company has a mission statement and Starbucks statements to stand out. It's amazing to see that they have actually implemented it by stopping the ICed tea sale. But they must have been some alternative! Informative post as always.

    Dropping by from a to z http://afshan-shaik.blogspot.com/

  2. HI there. I am not a huge coffee person, but this last winter I have been obsessed with Starbucks Chai Lattes'. They are so good, lol. I know this post was about coffee, but I had to share, lol. Thanks for the post.

  3. That's great that they took their mission statement so seriously and found ways to foster it throughout the company. I do think as companies grow and evolve often their mission statements do too so not surprising they ended up updating theirs. Weekends In Maine

  4. The coffee i love is the home made one because we tend to have our coffee in an astonishing level of heat...steaming and scalding hot... baristas ones are lukewarm for us...ha ha


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