What does the uniform look like for your average server at McDonald’s (don’t Google it)? Or KFC? Or Burger King? When you head to your nearest restaurant, you’re probably too busy drooling over that Big Mac to notice what the restaurant staff are wearing, but if you’re anything like me, you can probably take a stab at one of the primary colors.
Quick! What does your Starbucks barista wear? I immediately guessed “green apron”, and if you did the same, then you’re totally right. As the main color making up its logo and the color you’d readily associate with delicious all-natural, fair trade food, Starbucks and green go together like a Venti Flat White and a wonderfully warm snack.
But from time to time, the keen-eyed among you might notice that the green uniform on your Starbucks barista changes color. Instead of the emerald apron, you pick up your iced tea with a red, orange or even blue apron in the periphery of your vision. But why is that?
You probably hadn’t thought of it before today, but Starbucks actually has a secret meaning to its other apron colors, and depending on the color, your barista might have gotten up to something rather special.
Back in 1971, Starbucks baristas at their original location at Pike Place Market in Seattle wore simple brown grocers’ aprons: a practical uniform that also happened to be reminiscent of the seed that these experts knew so well. But in 1982, executive chairman Howard Schultz joined the company and with his arrival, baristas started to wear green aprons with an updated logo, and when the company went public in 1992, the apron color stuck.
But there are also some special color aprons that indicate your barista is actually pretty awesome. In that early 90s period, Starbucks introduced black aprons for their baristas who were certified in coffee knowledge (in what became the Coffee Master), and barista “champions” – baristas at the top of their game who have impacted Starbucks in a big way – have a rare and special purple apron.
Today, Starbucks often change their apron colors to commemorate special events, like King’s Day in the Netherlands (where Starbucks baristas can be seen wearing orange) or Christmas time, or American baristas – who wear red to celebrate the arrival of Starbucks’ holiday blend.
A pale blue apron indicates that it’s Frappuccino Happy Hour, while in one franchise in Malaysia that aims to promote employment opportunities for deaf people, baristas wear aprons with the word “STARBUCKS” embroidered in sign language. For baristas who are graduates of the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, there’s a green apron embroidered with a mortarboard (the flat, square hat you get at graduation).
Well, there you have it. If you’re in a Starbucks at any point in the future and you notice them wearing a different color apron, now you know what it means! And if they’re wearing a purple apron, you can ask that particular barista exactly what they did to earn it. Isn’t that neat?