Thursday, April 05, 2007

Setting the record straight on Starbucks

The other day a good friend sent an email that has been circulating around the internet since the start of the War in Iraq, and perhaps as far back as the first Gulf War. It tells the story of a Marine Sergeant who asked the Starbucks Coffee Company to send some coffee to their unit. Apparently Starbucks said no, and said they did not support the war nor anyone in it.

After checking this again at an Urban Legends/ page I got this information about the story:

Comments: It's unclear whether Starbucks ever actually refused to donate coffee to U.S. Marines in Iraq who requested it, but if they did, it wasn't because, as the above email claims, "they don't support the war and anyone in it."

Marine Sgt. Howard C. Wright, who authored the email in May 2004, subsequently issued a mea culpa (currently being distributed by Starbucks in answer to queries) in which he said:

Almost 5 months ago I sent an email to you my faithful friends. I did a wrong thing that needs to be cleared up. I heard by word of mouth about how Starbucks said they didn't support the war and all. I was having enough of that kind of talk and didn't do my research properly like I should have. This is not true. Starbucks supports men and women in uniform. They have personally contacted me and I have been sent many copies of their company's policy on this issue. So I apologize for this quick and wrong letter that I sent out to you.
In its own response to the email rumor, Starbucks explains that while the company has "the deepest respect and admiration for U.S. military personnel," corporate policy prohibits direct donations to U.S. troops because the military doesn't fall under the strict definition of a public charity. Individual employees are free to donate their weekly pounds of take-home coffee, however, and according to Starbucks' statement many have done so.

At this point, we wish to point out what one gets from reading between the lines. When Starbucks states, “…corporate policy prohibits direct donations to U.S. troops because the military doesn't fall under the strict definition of a public charity. Individual employees are free to donate their weekly pounds of take-home coffee, however, and according to Starbucks' statement many have done so.”

What it appears they are saying is that because there is no tax deduction for donating to the Marines, they will not donate. They could give a fig what their employees do, but they will not donate. Now, let’s be clear here. This is a company that has realized the American Dream with phenomenal growth by selling overpriced coffee and associated products. That is THE American Dream, folks, the one guaranteed by our Constitution and protected by our government, and paid for over and over again by the United States Military.

There are, indeed, several options for Starbucks: they could change their policy; they could double the weekly allocation to their employees so they could then donate to the military, or they could simply allocate advertising money and send it over that way. There are likely other solutions, too, but these are simply obvious ones. It is a wonder then that if they are that obvious, why were they not obvious to the executives at Starbucks?

Perhaps the initial response […Starbucks replied, telling the Marines thank you for their Support of their business, but that Starbucks does not support the war,Nor anyone in it, and that they would not send the troops their brand of Coffee…] which still has yet to be explained, is accurate after all. Perhaps this is another “company policy”. It certainly would appear to be the case after Starbucks failed to come through on a simple request by a man overseas defending Starbucks’ right to make a profit.

Frankly, it would be a major public relations coup if Starbucks would offer to the Defense Department to send a force of people to Iraq and Afghanistan for Easter weekend, with lots of coffee, and lots of coffee and espresso makers, and serve it to the troops with their Easter meal. That is the kind of advertising that cannot be bought. It is the kind that inspires lasting brand loyalty. But apparently Starbucks can afford to do without the business of those who defend their right to exist.

Perhaps they are waiting for the Marines to win their victory in Iraq, and the Afghan forces to defeat the Taliban once and for all, so Starbucks can move in to both countries and sell their coffee products to the locals there. I guess they are a better class of customers.

We must admit we never felt the allure of Starbucks, never felt their coffee was better than the brand we buy at the grocery store, and in fact, were somewhat wary of the chain because of its meteoric rise.

Now we believe that our initial mistrust of Starbucks is probably warranted, and will continue to not patronize the company.

VN Vets

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations." -- President Abraham Lincoln

"Without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious." --President George Washington

Copyright © 2007: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.


  1. I wonder if it ever occurred to Starbucks to donate their coffee to the USO, which IS a charitable organization. That would go a long way toward dispelling the myth and would be a good write-off for them.

  2. Great idea! Thanks!