A Starbucks coffee shop in Glenpool, Oklahoma, issued an apology on Friday, November 29, after one of its baristas wrote “pig” on the cup of a local police chief who purchased the coffee earlier in the day.
The word also appeared on the other cups of coffee he was picking up for his fellow cops.
Public reaction — not surprisingly — was not friendly to Starbucks.
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Oklahoma is considered one of the most, if not the most, politically and culturally conservative state in the nation, giving regular hefty majorities to hardline GOP candidates.
So the action by the rude barista likely did not play well across the state.
Starbucks will have some perception damage to deal with in the Sooner State.
Here are a few tweets with more information on, and reaction to, the incident.
Kiefer Police Chief Johnny O’Mara says one of his officers picked up five cups of coffee today at the Glenpool @Starbucks for his dispatchers, as a thank you for working on Thanksgiving.
— Amy Slanchik (@amyslanchik) November 28, 2019
The fact that the barista has only been suspended is shameful.
@Starbucks and the left always lecture us not to judge people on the actions of a few, yet they do on a daily basis.
I wonder who Starbucks would call if they got robbed? The barista? https://t.co/CAuMqceIHi
— Andrew Pollack (@AndrewPollackFL) November 30, 2019
Starbucks was quick to respond in a statement.
“This is absolutely unacceptable, and we are deeply sorry to the law enforcement officer who experienced this,” said the company.
“We have also apologized directly to him and connected with the chief of the Kiefer Police Department, as well, to express our remorse,” the statement also said.
“The Starbucks partner who wrote this offensive word on a cup used poor judgment and is no longer a partner after this violation of company policy. This language is offensive to all law enforcement and is not representative of the deep appreciation we have for police officers who work tirelessly to keep our communities safe.”
The statement dated November 29 concluded with, “In the coming days, Starbucks will be meeting with the Kiefer Police Department to begin discussing ways to work together, including a jointly hosted Coffee with a Cop event at Starbucks where local law enforcement can meet with baristas and members of the community to discuss the critical role dispatchers and police [officers] play in keeping our communities safe.”
This is not the first time Starbucks has been in the middle of ideological controversies.
The company’s refusal to acknowledge Christian holidays — though it regularly acknowledges the holy days of other faiths — and the statement of its former CEO Howard Schultz that he personally did not want anybody of a pro-life view buying coffee at Starbucks, has not culturally endeared the chain to middle America.
After Schultz left the company, the organization made efforts to bring the corporate image back into the mainstream by using targeted appeals to veterans and local charities in corporate and franchisee locations.
But the Seattle-based coffee purveyor still has an image problem.
Other chains such as Dunkin’ and Tim Hortons have purposely based their marketing campaigns in opposition to the Starbucks image, portraying themselves as simple, inexpensive, and down-to-earth sellers of coffee and pastries.
Nevertheless, the Starbucks bottom line has not suffered overall, at least as of yet — and the company plans more expansion into the North American market.
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