Heading to Starbucks this morning? A new holiday menu is on offer and your morning latte is going to come in a green cup. Starbucks is known for kicking off its winter menu with a festive cup design each year, but the cup is generally red. This year’s (first?) seasonal cup is a deep bright green, and features “a mosaic of more than a hundred people drawn in one continuous stroke.” Starbucks’ press materials say the cup “represents the connections we have as a community, it’s meant to be a symbol of unity, and encourage us to be good to each other.”
So why green? And why all this talk of community and unity? And more importantly: Will Starbucks unveil a red cup, too?
Remember back to last November. Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and half a dozen other Republican nominees for President of the United States challenged the candidacy of Donald Trump. Last November was also when the 2015 Starbucks’ red cup controversy hit its peak.
On November 1, 2015 Starbucks released a new holiday cup: The simple red and burgundy ombre design seemed at first minimalist, even modern compared to Starbucks’ previous red cup designs, which depicted wintery and vaguely holiday-themed drawings and graphics against a red background. But within days Starbucks’ innocuous red cup became a symbol of everything many Americans have started to resent about this country — individual differences, diversity, acceptance, change. The unprecedented design was declared not Christmas-y enough. By November 10, disgusted with how Starbucks’ was ruining Christmas (and their lives?), thousands of Starbucks fans revolted. Simultaneously, the presidential election, unprecedented in its scope, carved a deep divide across the nation.
Who knew a cup could mean so much to so many?
Starbucks mostly remained mum on the issue of the red cup in 2015, and went along its merry way selling gingerbread lattes and peppermint mochas. But this year, Schultz and company are striking back with a thoughtful message about community and friendship. Though rumors of a forthcoming red cup persist, Starbucks wants its fans to consider this green cup for a minute.
“The green cup and the design represent the connections Starbucks has as a community with its partners (employees) and customers. During a divisive time in our country, Starbucks wanted to create a symbol of unity as a reminder of our shared values, and the need to be good to each other,” said Howard Schultz, chairman and CEO in a release.
The art on the new cup was drawn by artist Shogo Ota, a Seattle-based designer who owns Tireman Studio. The line drawings — depicting people of all backgrounds and creeds coming together — are an extension of Ota’s recent work with Starbucks, which includes posters, store, and web graphics. Ota decked out the windows of a location in Seattle with his sketches before marking up one in New York City’s Renwick Hotel. A release notes that his design is “a symbol for stitching people together as a united community.”
In addition to the green cup, today Starbucks customers will find the company’s full menu of holiday drinks on offer as well:
Caramel Brulée Latte
Chestnut Praline Latte
Skinny Peppermint Mocha
So what about those red cup rumors? It’s possible red cups may make an appearance later this month. Starbucks obsessives have noticed boxes at stores labeled “No peeking until November 10.” Could they contain red cups? The prevailing theory says yes.