When you think Starbucks, you probably think of a smiling barista holding out a cup with your name misspelled. Have you ever noticed the color of the apron your barista is wearing? While you might think that all employees wear the iconic green Starbucks apron, you'd be incorrect. In fact, there are quite a few apron colors at the neighborhood chain everyone loves to hate (PSL, we're looking at you), and they signify something special about the barista who's wearing it.
Over the years at Starbucks, per a blog post, "the apron has become a way to celebrate events and milestones and recognize partner contributions." While any employee can wear the signature color of the green Starbucks apron, employees who have served in the military or are a military spouse have the option of getting an American flag embroidered. Graduates of the Starbucks College Achievement Plan earn a green apron with a mortarboard embroidered on it.
Starbucks introduced black aprons in the early 1990s to signify those who successfully finished the Starbucks' Coffee Masters program, meaning they have an expert coffee knowledge. Now that's someone you want making your coffee drink. You'll spot Starbucks baristas wearing red aprons with the Starbucks logo during the holiday season to celebrate.
At a store in Malaysia, deaf baristas wear aprons with the word Starbucks embroidered in sign language. There are even more colors to signify special store events and holidays. In the Netherlands, baristas rock orange aprons to celebrate King's Day. When Frappuccino Happy Hour launched, baristas wore pale blue aprons to recognize the promotion.
Barista champions receive a special purple apron to signify their devotion and skill to the craft of coffee. Starbucks holds a Barista Championship yearly where "15,000 partners from more than 30 countries" apply to compete. The field is narrowed down to two dozen winners, and from there, the Barista Championship is underway.
So the next time you head to your neighborhood Starbucks and are trying to decide what hot drink or secret menu frappuccino to buy, take a moment to consider your barista. The chances are high that they haven't had the best day at the counter, and as someone who has worked in food service can tell you, one kind conversation goes an awful long way.