The Real Meaning Behind The Starbucks Apron Colors

When you think of Starbucks and branding, green is the color that immediately comes to mind, as it is on both their logo and the aprons worn by baristas in every store. However, Starbucks also has other apron colors that actually have secret meanings. In addition to the green apron, there are now also black, pale blue, yellow, and red aprons. Further colors you are less likely to see include orange, purple, and tan (via Self).

Red aprons started in 1997, with the arrival of the first Starbucks holiday cups. Each store also received two red aprons for their partners (that's another name for employees, as they are technically not called baristas), who were sampling Christmas Blend coffee or stocking merchandise (via Starbucks).

Some of the colorful aprons mark special events, such as orange aprons, which were worn in the Netherlands to celebrate King's Day. There was also a pale blue apron to accompany the launch of Frappuccino Happy Hour. Yellow aprons were sent to some stores to launch Teavana teas so baristas could wear Teavana-branded aprons (via Daily Mail).

There are also a few designs that are rare or not seen in regular Starbucks stores. In Malaysia, Starbucks has aprons with the word "Starbucks" embroidered in sign language as part of an effort to provide employment opportunities to Deaf people. There is also a tan apron, reserved only for those who work at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room in Seattle.

Starbucks aprons can also acknowledge employee achievement

There are purple aprons that are reserved for barista champions. Every year, only 26 baristas around the world win one, with "Barista Champion" embroidered on the front. Black aprons indicate Coffee Masters, baristas who have completed an internal Starbucks curriculum and become certified as having expert coffee knowledge (via Delish).

Even the original green aprons may have additional meanings. Employees that have served in the military can get their aprons embroidered with their military affiliation and an American flag. The spouses of military members or veterans can get the same embroidery with the addition of "military spouse" under their name. This began in 2015 when Tim Bomke, an army veteran and the Starbucks senior product manager for Starbucks Technology Services, said: "I thought about my wife being a Starbucks barista when I was in Iraq, and wondered what would have made her feel acknowledged for her sacrifices, too."

Another embellishment employees can add to the green apron is a mortarboard, which indicates they have graduated from the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, a partnership between Starbucks and Arizona State University (ASU) that covers the tuition for employees to get a bachelors degree through ASU's online program.

Next time you are idly waiting for your barista or partner to make your coffee, check out their apron and you are likely to learn something about them.