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Looks like they *really* need that racial sensitivity training

Tim Nelson
May 18, 2018

2018 hasn’t exactly been a banner year for Starbucks when it comes to racial sensitivity. Just a few weeks after settling with the two black men wrongfully arrested at one of the chain’s Philadelphia locations, a fresh incident on the other side of the country raises new questions about how well the company’s baristas relate to communities of color.

This week, a patron named Pedro placed an order at an LA county Starbucks and received a cup that labeled his name as “beaner,” a racially insensitive term directed at Latinos. When he finished his coffee run returned to the restaurant he works at, coworker Priscilla Hernandez was upset by what she saw.

"I asked him if he realized what they had put on his cup. He said no. So I was really upset about it, because that isn't OK," she told CNN.

The La Cañada Flintridge Starbucks chalked it all up as a misunderstanding (and offered a $50 gift card), but Hernandez isn’t buying it. “Out of all the names they could've put on his coffees for 'misunderstanding' him they decide to put 'beaner.'"

CBS Los Angeles was unable to get in contact with the store’s manager, but the company did release a statement that “This is not indicative of the type of experience we want our customers to have when they walk into our stores,” adding that “we have apologized to the customer directly and are working to make things right.”

From a public relations perspective, this latest incident couldn’t have come at a worse time for Starbucks. While the fallout from Philadelphia has already led to an update on company bathroom policies, this latest incident further underscores the need for the company’s upcoming afternoon of racial sensitivity training at 8,000 Starbucks locations. And though early earnings evidence suggests that headline-making incidents don’t affect Starbucks’ bottom line, one has to wonder how many of these incidents the coffee company can take before they’re truly in hot water. 

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